Post-graduates & post-doctoral researchers

If you have completed your PhD and post-doctoral work in an academic institution, making the transition into the pharmaceutical industry can be daunting, but making this transition could have many benefits for your career.

For a research scientist, making the transition from academia to the industry can sometimes be a bit of a culture shock. It’s therefore important to understand the benefits and risks of making this transition, and how to put yourself in a strong position to make this change. 

Initially it may seem challenging applying for jobs in the industry. Often pharmaceutical companies prefer to take young graduates who can learn the ways of the industry and the company from the start, and companies may be resistant to the additional cost of hiring an employee with further qualifications. However, the move from academia to industry, even after many years, is relatively straightforward.

During your time in academic research you will have gained specialist knowledge and skills that can prove useful in the discovery and development of new medicines; these skills are very appealing to a new employer. In general the subject of your research is not as important as the general research skills you have developed through it. You need to be aware of the diversity of your skills and make sure that you’re able to demonstrate them to the employer. 

After your PhD or post-doc you may be ready to move away from the lab bench. Luckily the strong skills that you will have developed in data interpretation, analysis and scientific writing can prove useful in other areas of the pharmaceutical industry. Some jobs, such as in science writing and policy, may even require you to have a PhD, putting you in a very strong position when applying.

For an insight into the range of potential career options available to you, explore Working in the industry

To find out more about the pros and cons of working in the industry, and what skills you have to offer an employer, browse through the links on the left hand side. 

Look through the case studies below to see what other people have done after their PhD: 

Last modified: 20 September 2023

Last reviewed: 20 September 2023