Pharmaceutical Scientist

Job Description


We tend to take our medication for granted; the doctor prescribes a bottle of pills and we take them. Have you ever wondered where our medications originate?

From rain forests to oceans, our medications derive from a variety of places and pharmaceutical scientists are responsible for uncovering new therapies and medications from our planet. Basically, they discover, develop, test and manufacture new medications. 

Pharmaceutical scientists work in labs discovering how different substances will affect cells and pathogens. These scientists must understand how the new compounds will also affect the body as a whole of the person who takes them. 

They reveal their findings to the medical community and synthesize new medicines from their research. Pharmaceutical scientists also educate the public about new medications.




Discovering a new medicine is a long, painstaking process that takes the pharmaceutical scientist through three stages: discovering new substances and compounds that will fight illness; developing the medication by submitting it to rigorous testing including that of animals and humans; and finally, manufacturing the medication so that it can be distributed to those who need it.

Often enough, hundreds of substances and compounds must be tested to see whether they will be valuable to treat a medical condition.

Most of these are discarded through the process of trial and error. It can literally take decades before a new medicine leave the lab and is available from your doctor.

In part because of the complicated and intensive nature of this discipline, most pharmaceutical scientists tend to specialize in one area.

Pharmaceutical scientists can concentrate on finding new uses for existing drugs, discover new medications from natural or synthetic substances, research how the body reacts to certain drugs in order to help make them more effective and safer, study the effects of disease on the human body and what causes the disease, find better, more efficient ways to manufacture the medication, or keep the government and pharmaceutical companies aware of developments.




Pharmaceutical scientists must have a big skill set since they have to discover and develop new medications.

Some of the main skills needed are the following:

Critical Thinking

Must think critically and outside of the box to discover and develop new medications.

Understand Complex Medical Data

Must be able to know how to manipulate complex medical data and know how to decipher it.

Complex Problem Solving

Must be able to solve complex problems and discover new processes and substances for medications.


Must be able to analyze different situations to determine outcomes or solve issues.


Pay attention to detail so as to determine any problems and fix them or to discover things many others wouldn't notice.


Be able to work and communicate with people on your team to solve problems and create positive outcomes.

Math & Science

Must be able to use mathematics to solve complex problems and must have a strong scientific background to know natural processes and how they can be manipulated.


Working Conditions


There are many employment opportunities available for the pharmaceutical scientist. These professionals are found in government agencies and labs, in the research facilities of universities, in biotech and drug manufacturing companies, and contract research organizations or CROS.

Pharmaceutical scientists also teach at universities and hospitals and oversee drug testing.

There are some requirements necessary to being a successful pharmaceutical scientist; the applicant must be able to use computers and sophisticated testing equipment, they must be able to communicate adequately, and they must have patience, as the development of a new drug can take years or trial and error.




Salary Outlook