Recently I wrote about the types of technical careers available to science graduates within the pharma sector, but what happens if you finish a Science degree and realise you don’t want a typical science job or to spend the rest of your life in the lab?

For many scientists working in a lab seems like the only option however, the analytical skills you develop during your degree are desirable across all areas of the industry and open the door to a number of rewarding and lucrative science careers.

It is estimated that 8,400 job openings will arise within the pharma industry in Ireland over the next five years, so rest assured if you ever decide to hang up your lab coat, plenty of alternative opportunities await. Here are just a few ideas of alternative careers available to science graduates;

Regulatory Affairs

Employees within regulatory affairs act as middle men between companies and regulatory authorities to ensure that products are manufactured and distributed in compliance with legislation.

There are opportunities for Regulatory affairs officers, Managers and Consultants across the pharmaceutical, chemical, clinical research, medical device and biotechnology industries, and an MSc is typically required for entry-level positions.

Regulatory Affairs Specialist was named the 2nd ‘most in demand position’ in science in 2015, and has remained in demand since, so it’s a smart career choice if you don’t want to work in a lab environment.

Commercial Science Jobs

Commercial jobs within the science industry, such as Sales, Marketing & Business Development, involve the promotion and selling of new medicines and drugs that pharmaceutical companies produce.

Graduates working in this area will typically have a science qualification along with business qualification. Excellent communication skills are also very important.


Professionals within Pharma sales liaise with physicians and other medical professionals on new developments in the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical industries.

Their main responsibility is to educate physicians, pharmacists and health care facilities about new cutting-edge products. Due to the highly scientific nature of pharmaceutical sales, an in-depth understanding of complex health sciences including biotechnology and pharmacology is required – making it the perfect job for a scientist who doesn’t want to work in a lab.

To excel in sales, you might want to incorporate business studies into your education via a BSc or MSc in marketing or business administration.


Preparations for the launch of new Pharmaceutical products often begin three or four years before launch to market. Professionals within this area collect and analyse data to support the marketing of medicines during each stage of the product life cycle, this includes pre-launch, launch, and after the product becomes established on the market. As with sales, an in-depth knowledge of the pharma and science industry is a must.

Business Development

Employees in business development evaluate new business opportunities aligned with a pharma company’s therapeutic product divisions and strategic goals. They examine in-and out-licensing opportunities, collaborative development deals, and joint ventures. A BSc or MSc in a science related field alongside strong analytical skills is an advantage.

For life-science and chemistry graduates who want to pursue a non-lab based role, there are many postgrad courses in management / entrepreneurship / marketing in a number of universities across Ireland. UCD in particular have a number of postgraduate courses in business tailored specifically for science graduates.

If you are considering leaving the lab or want to learn more on what is available to you, please feel free to get in touch.

Contact Suzanne