June 2010

Nontraditional Career Options for Life Scientists

Other life sciences disciplines that are experiencing greater-than-normal demand include regulatory affairs and quality control and assurance. However, it is important to point out that both of these career options require specialized training and, likely, some hands-on work experience. A good way to enter the regulatory affairs and quality control fields with minimal additional formal training is to land an internship at a pharmaceutical or biotechnology company or at the FDA. More and more companies and government agencies are beginning to offer internship opportunities to qualified individuals. Unfortunately, many of these internships are not well publicized or widely advertised. Consequently, you will have to do a little work to find them!

Looking for a new job? Check out the ASBMB Job Board.

In conclusion, there is no question that traditional job opportunities for doctoral-trained life scientists are fewer in number and that they continue to disappear at alarming rates. Despite this troubling trend, most life sciences graduate programs steadfastly refuse to change or adjust their training programs to enable their graduates and postdoctoral fellows to compete for non-traditional life sciences job opportunities. Unless systemic changes are implemented at the graduate training level, it is likely that doctoral life scientists who receive traditional training will continue to face long-term unemployment well into the 21st century.

Clifford S. Mintz (cliff@biocrowd.com) is a freelance writer, blogger and speaker at career fairs and professional meetings.


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Excellent advice. For the huge investment required (more than any other profession) to become a researcher, it is unreliable, often low paid, isolating and very long hours. I regret hanging in there so long, watching my friends go into different professions and doing post doc after post doc with periods of unemployment in between. Young scientists NEED to know how poor career prospects are in science research.


Thank you for posting this straight forward and forward looking piece. You are doing everyone a huge favor by not continuing to cover up the harsh realities we face. Academia just will not change, it's just not capable of taking in the incredible rate of change the job market is going through.




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