Drug safety and pharmacovigilance (PV) professionals play a critical role in safeguarding patients from the adverse effects of medicines used to prevent diseases, manage health conditions and improve quality of life.

Monitoring drug safety in clinical trials, as well as in drugs that have already been approved for market, is a serious business. No one wants to harm patients, of course, but adverse effects still arise all the time — which makes the role of drug safety workers essential in the life sciences industry. For example, they’re able to:

  • reduce risks, adverse reactions and patient harm
  • detect previously unknown adverse effects
  • understand the nature and severity of known adverse effects
  • analyze a drug’s risks and determine any actions needed to improve drug safety
  • ensure the accuracy of information in provider-patient communications

In other words, drug safety and PV professionals play a key role in ensuring the safety of patients in clinical trials, monitoring real-world data to identify signals and trends that will affect patient outcomes — and ultimately contributing to the success of a marketed drug. But what does it take to make it in the field of drug safety today?

Let’s look at the top five skills for drug safety workers, then break down a few different career paths in this fast-growing field.

5 skills and traits drug safety workers need to succeed

Whether you’re interested in hiring today’s top drug safety workers or advancing your own career in a PV role, the following five skills, competencies and traits will be key.

data analysis

In drug safety, it’s incredibly important to identify potential problems before they arise — and that boils down to being skilled at data analysis. By proactively identifying anomalies or outliers in the data, PV professionals can enable pharma and life sciences companies to get out ahead of any potential adverse events.

regulatory compliance

Understanding the increasingly complex guidelines governing patient safety can save valuable time and money in clinical trials, ensuring that key projects go according to schedule. Knowing how to interpret, apply and ultimately comply with relevant regulations, therefore, is essential.


Patient safety goes beyond regulations — it’s about doing what’s right, and in the best interest of the patient, at all times, period. This has to be the primary focus, above everything else.

project management

With multiple products often in development at the same time, drug safety roles require heavy-duty project management skills. Not surprisingly, then, the ability to keep everything on track while handling multiple workflows is essential for success in this field.


Having great communication skills makes a big difference in most roles, but within the PV space, it’s simply non-negotiable, as poor or unclear communication can literally mean life or death. Plus, strong communication skills are invaluable for gaining trust, building relationships, solving problems and gathering feedback — all things that can help pharma and life sciences companies get (and stay) ahead.

looking ahead: career paths and the future of PV

With the PV market expected to register a compound annual growth rate of 8.65 percent over the next five years, more and more drug safety workers will be required in order to keep up with that demand.

In light of that accelerating demand, it’s worth asking: What are some of the most common career pathways for professionals in the field? Below is a quick overview.

  • Many people who work in drug safety and PV have MD, RN or PharmD degrees, but there are also roles — specialists and coordinators, for example — that don't require you to have an advanced healthcare degree.
  • Most people in the field receive extensive on-the-job training while working for a pharma company or CRO. You can also take classes to receive drug safety and PV certification.
  • Notably, drug safety physicians are not required to be U.S. board certified, which makes this a great option for foreign MDs, as well as MDs who have not completed a residency or board certification.

The key takeaway? There are countless opportunities for focused, dedicated professionals interested in pursuing careers in this dynamic and exciting field. But what can pharma and life sciences companies do to start hiring more of them today?

next steps

As one of America’s leading staffing providers for drug safety and PV professionals, Randstad has comprehensive solutions, including on-demand talent, to support clinical trials at any stage. Get in touch with us to learn more.

Alternatively, if you’re looking to make your next career move in drug safety or PV, you should start exploring opportunities with Randstad right away.