Innovation throughout the life sciences sector is growing quickly, and job opportunities are increasing along with it — meaning competition for top talent remains high. This year, for the first time ever, there were more job openings than there were job seekers, and highly specialized life sciences talent will continue to be especially scarce.

With the current costs for securing approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and bringing a drug to market hovering around $2.6 billion, pharmaceutical organizations need to make sure they hire the best and brightest life sciences talent available to ensure optimal return on investment. With so much competition for a relatively small pool of talent, employers will need to increase their retention efforts to keep their top performers on staff.


The biopharmaceutical industry currently employs more than 854,000 people in the United

Some of the most in-demand roles driving competition throughout the life sciences sector in 2019 include:

analytical chemists

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is predicting employment opportunities to grow six percent for chemists between 2016 and 2026, citing increased production of medical nanotechnologies and a greater need for “green chemistry” expertise as the main drivers of growth. Charged with analyzing substances to determine their composition, analytical chemists are especially needed in the pharmaceutical industry to evaluate the safety and nature of interactions between medical compounds.

clinical trial managers

Demand for clinical trial managers is expected to be high in 2019. The number of new drugs approved by the FDA was at a 21-year high in 2017, and with the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) using a number of different pathways to expedite the development and the approval of novel drugs, this trend is expected to continue. With a rise in the number of approvals and a greater push to shorten development timelines, the need for the people responsible for these studies is also on the rise. Candidates with master’s degrees in clinical research and experience using research databases will be most desirable, as well as those who are familiar with the regulatory landscape and ethical concerns that may be pertinent with the increased introduction of approval-expediting methodologies.

drug safety specialists

Drug safety specialists are expected to be in demand throughout 2019 as the pharmacovigilance industry continues to be one of the fastest growing throughout life sciences. The number of trials each year are on the rise, and with the emergence of new drug markets outside of the U.S., drug safety professionals are stretched to meet the industry’s needs. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), half of all of the pharmacovigilance efforts globally are conducted in the U.S. Candidates should be highly detail-oriented to accurately evaluate product quality and assure adherence to associated regulations and SOPs. These attributes will be needed even more to maintain accuracy as workflows accelerate in this growing field.


The BLS expects biochemist roles to increase 11% between 2016-2026, which is faster than the average rate for all occupations.

medical writers

The increase in demand for medical writers is fueled by the growth of more sophisticated products and the need to keep up with the increasingly complex medical information today’s consumers demand. As product complexity grows, the calls from regulatory bodies for greater transparency and data disclosure continue to increase. In fact, among medications approved by the FDA, just 35 percent of trial results per drug were publicly available. To support this growth and the demand for increased transparency, medical writers are being asked to do more in areas that have traditionally been served by statisticians, regulatory professionals or clinical research teams.

At 13%, laboratory technicians are expected to experience faster-than-average growth, according to the BLS.

regulatory affairs associates

Employment opportunities for regulatory affairs associates are expected to grow in 2019, with nearly 26,000 new jobs projected to be created between 2016 and 2026. New advancements in workplace technologies are making regulatory affairs associates more efficient at their jobs, but with the increase in calls for data disclosure and transparency and the agreement between the FDA and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in 2017 to share information, the landscape continues to change.

keys to attracting life sciences talent in 2019

With so many organizations now vying for the same small pool of talent, standing out and attracting highly skilled candidates has become a challenge. That’s why more and more companies are offering better benefits and perks packages and increasing starting salaries for highly qualified candidates.

Employers who choose to prioritize this strategy can expect to see gains in both the quality and quantity of talent they attract. There's a sizable gap waiting to be filled between what today's talent wants and what the majority of employers are offering: In Randstad's Workplace 2025 survey, fewer than half of employee respondents reported being satisfied with their companies' benefits, and 42 percent said that subpar benefits and perks were reason enough to leave.

But it's no longer just as simple as providing a standard set of benefits — employee preferences are changing, and employer offerings must also adjust to keep pace. Staying up to date with the latest trends in workers’ expectations will be key for businesses looking to attract and retain top talent in 2019.

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