The best life sciences jobs in 2017

  • career advice
  • February 23, 2017
Life sciences organizations sit at the intersection of some of the world’s most exciting innovations in cutting-edge fields such as biotechnology, pharmaceutical and biomedical technologies. They’re curing cancer, developing sophisticated life-saving medical devices and preserving the environment. Projects like developing and testing new drugs or other forms of treatments often involve hundreds of professionals and require years to collect, analyze and verify data. That’s driving the industry’s growth and creating tens of thousands of new jobs.
As of December 2016, there were nearly 20,500 job openings and an unemployment rate of just 2.8 percent in this field, nearly two percentage points lower than the national average. Our research finds that the five hottest life sciences jobs are: 


Clinical Research Associate

Clinical research associates are on the front lines of on-going clinical trials. Their responsibilities include recruiting patients who participate in drug testing, and serving as the primary liaison between those test subjects and the other research and development teams. Ideal candidates have earned a bachelor’s degree in a scientific discipline, and have experience working in clinical research, clinical operations or data scientist roles. Annual salaries are expected to range from $62,794 to $74,400, with the midpoint being $67,841, according to Randstad research.
Job postings for clinical research associates jumped 21 percent from 2015 to 2016, the second largest increase on our hottest jobs list, behind only…

Drug Safety Associate

Of the five jobs on this list, drug safety associate boasts the largest increase in the percentage of available jobs growth between 2015 and 2016 (42 percent). Drug safety associates track and report any unfavorable side effects of a new drug not only during the clinical trial process, but also after it receives approval for sale to the public. The more advanced a degree an applicant has earned, the fewer years of experience a potential employer may require. For example, someone with a BS/BA in a relevant discipline may need three or four years of experience, while a candidate with a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) may only need one or two years of experience.
This year, drug safety associates will earn $64,697 to $77,086, with the midpoint being $70,083, according to Randstad research.

Clinical Study Manager

Clinical study managers oversee all aspects of clinical trials and other research projects that can be regional, national or even global in scope. They are responsible for leading multiple cross functional teams to ensure their projects stay on deadline and within budget along the multiple phases required of all clinical trials. Companies typically look candidates with at least a BS in Life Sciences or related field, and at least four years of experience managing relevant research projects. 

The salary range is between $96,877 to $120,439, with a median average of $107,121, according to Randstad research.

Regulatory Manager

Before any new drug is made available to patients, it must undergo years of rigorous multi-phase testing to meet strict requirements set by the FDC and other national and international government regulators. Regulatory managers serve as the primary go-between for researchers and regulators. Like clinical study managers, the salary range for regulatory managers is higher than the industry average. 

In 2017, regulatory managers can expect to earn $106,338 to $130,621 a year, with the midpoint being $116,896, according to Randstad research.

Medical Writer

Medical writers are responsible for crafting scientific, research and educational life science documents for publication across a variety of mediums. Unlike some of the other jobs on this list, most openings are concentrated in established medical markets in the Northeast and San Francisco. In addition to having a background in a specific life sciences discipline, a medical writer must demonstrate proficiency with writing and publishing technologies such as Microsoft SharePoint and document management systems. 

Medical writers can expect to earn annual salaries between $71,535 to $84,756, with an average of $77,283, according to Randstad research.

National demand

These are five distinct jobs that each require applicants to meet specific educational and professional requirements. Yet, they can all be part of regional, national and even international campaigns. So, it should be no surprise that the industry will create more new jobs this year, and not just in the traditional medical centers on the east and west coasts. Demand for applicants for some of these positions is high in “fly-over states” such as Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Colorado and Nevada, and in southern states like North Carolina and Florida.

See our full list of the best life sciences jobs in 2017.