Pharmaceutical Industry Jobs: 5 Essential Skills
Are you applying for pharmaceutical industry jobs?
If you are applying for current job opportunities in the Pharmaceutical* sector, there are 5 essential skills you’ll need to develop to be successful in your employment.
*The pharmaceutical sector includes medical device manufacturing, biologic medicines, veterinary medicines and medicinal cannabis cultivation.
This blog can help you understand the topics, cultures, and skillsets you’ll need to learn about prior to applying for current Pharmaceutical Industry job openings.
If you’re applying for current job openings in the pharmaceutical sector:
During your interview — the more you can highlight your pre-existing knowledge of GMP in relation to the Pharmaceutical industry — the more likely you’ll become short-listed as one of the top Pharmaceutical or Medical Device job candidates.
Skillset criteria for gaining employment in the pharmaceutical and medical device sectors
What specific skills and knowledge are required to gain employment in the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing or Medical Device Production sectors?
The ‘skill set requirements’ and ‘candidate selection criteria’ for current job openings in the pharmaceutical/medical device sectors will, of course, depend upon the particular organisation, products, and job role description.
While skillsets can vary depending on the responsibilities of the job opening, there are some crucial requirements that are industry wide, and globally required, to be successful in these sectors.
What’s important to keep in mind when applying for advertised Pharmaceutical industry jobs, is that these sectors are highly regulated industries.
Regulated industries require intensive training in regulations compliance requirements, which must be closely monitored and recorded.
A highly-regulated industry simply means that strict quality control measures (as well as risk management protocols) must be sustained at all times. This includes API ordering and source materials testing, manufacturing processes including packaging and labelling, and warehousing/distribution including cold chain requirements for certain types of medicines. These must be tightly monitored, regularly audited by the Quality Department/Operational Managers as well as Regulatory Authorities.
Quality controls and risk-management in highly regulated industries — such as the Pharmaceutical sector — are subject to intense scrutiny by internal auditors as well as by external auditors representing Regulatory Authorities (TGA, FDA, EMA, MHRA, NRA, AMA, SAHPRA, BfARM, and others).
Read more about who regulates GMP compliance (list of regulatory agencies).
In general, applicants for Pharmaceutical industry jobs should take into account the following:
- GMP compliance knowledge is mandatory for employees at all levels, and in nearly every job role
- from the lab and production lines through to warehouse and distribution personnel
- including good record-keeping knowledge and documentation
- These industries rely on personnel adopting a regulatory compliance mindset
Most organisations will highly value a candidate’s pre-existing experience in the sector.
But what if you have no prior experience in the pharmaceutical industry?
Having current GMP knowledge (cGMP training) could be extremely helpful to you in terms of your resume/CV, job application, and interview.
The best part is, you can get this GMP training online from a recognised industry leader (PharmOut Pty Ltd) at a minimal cost.
- For well under $100 USD (as little as $30 USD per online course), you can learn:
- the essentials of GMP compliance
- cGMP regulations and regulatory authorities
- GMP auditing essentials for regulatory compliance (audits being performed by the TGA, FDA, EMA, MHRA, BfARM, and other regulatory authorities)
- There are additional advanced GMP compliance courses you can complete to improve your chances of getting an interview or job offer, including:
- Some specifically designed for engineers, architects and designers seeking to apply for current job openings in the historically stable Pharmaceutical manufacturing sector
- Some programs designed for quality management roles or manufacturing job openings covering specific pharmaceutical industries, from veterinary medicines to herbal medicines to biologicals/blood and human tissue products to cultivation of pharmaceutical crops, such as raw source products used in cannabis medicines
These courses are all available online, 24/7, upon placing an order (online).
You will also gain a printable/PDF attachable Certificate of Completion for that topic; that you can attach to your CV when you apply for a job opening in the sector.
Your first priority will be to learn the concepts of compliance with Good Manufacturing Practice regulations (GMP compliance).
- You can do this readily by taking 2 or 3 pertinent online Certificate GMP courses to begin your GMP education.
- There will, of course, be numerous additional Quality Management concepts you’ll need to learn.
- Supervision on the job will also be required.
Be prepared: if you win a job in this sector, it may take you some time to become acclimised to the level of quality management and diligent cross-checks that are crucial for ensuring drug safety, patient safety, and product efficacy.
The importance of mindset when working in a regulated sector
In the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry, it’s all about developing a quality culture mentality. It’s about ensuring product quality, safety and efficacy at every step of production.
Quality management principles must be applied at every stage of production. This covers all aspects of pharmaceutical manufacturing and quality control measures. From receiving incoming source materials (and ordering logistics) for medicines to labelling and packaging, warehousing and distribution. From product release to the distributing facility (or biological medicines unit at a hospital, such as for radiotherapy medicines) to monitoring for potential side effects or ‘adverse drug-event signals (SAE)s’ which is known as Pharmacovigilance.
- GMP requirements must be adhered to at all times, by all employees.
- Personnel, contracts and vendors – including overseas suppliers – must comply with regulations and industry guidelines such as those published by the Pharmaceutical Inspection Cooperation Scheme (PIC/S).
- All employees, for example – including contractors and even supplies and vendors — must be trained in Good Record-Keeping (GRK) practices and data integrity requirements.
When it comes to Pharmaceutical Industry jobs, it’s all about understanding what’s required to comply with GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) – and a culture of excellence in terms of “follow-up” and “follow-through.”
Before you search SEEK ads for pharmaceutical industry jobs, ensure you have fully developed these 5 essential skills.
The Top 5 Essential Skills for working in the Pharmaceutical Industry
The top 5 skills to work in the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry include:
Skill #1: Excellent communication skills
- Good reading comprehension skills are mandatory in this sector, which relies heavily on Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and Work Instructions (WIs)
- Clear and concise communication
- Verbal communication must be clear and readily understood by teammates and other stakeholders
- Written communication must also be clear and concise and follow proper formats (take the 1-day SOP Technical Writing course and hone those writing skills!)
- A harmonious and collaborative approach
- A good listening ear – and no fear of asking questions if you aren’t certain of any aspect of an SOP or work instruction
- An ability to recognise, understand and communicate when something doesn’t go to plan (such as when an operating procedure or work instruction isn’t followed precisely, which could lead to a recall)
Skill #2: Good Record-Keeping (GRK) skills
- Legible handwriting
- Dedication to following strict procedures for file naming conventions, computer security procedures, document change approvals, and other documentation formats
- Processes documentation change management records
- Following the ALCOA+ principles
Skill #3: A keen sense of observation
- A dedication to complying with GMP regulations
- A keen sense of observation
- Vigilance for GMP compliance and the ability to spot a potential risk to product quality or safety, including workplace health and safety for employees working with active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs)
Skill #4: A passion for protecting public health
- A keen sense of responsibility for complying with quality and safety regulations (GMP compliance)
- A dedication to remaining observant at all times in the workplace
- The ability to keep your mind on the job and avoid distractions
- The ability to write detailed reports
- Being well organised including time management for follow-up activities such as ‘root cause’ CAPA investigations
Skill #5: Ability to adopt highly structured, frequently repetitive behaviours to ensure the prevention of cross-contamination.
- When it comes to GMP compliance, consistency is crucial.
- This means you’ll need to be able to read, comprehend, and adhere to Work Instructions (WI) and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
Of course, these are not the only skills you’ll need to gain a role in the pharmaceutical and medical device sectors.
And successful employment in the Pharmaceutical sector relies on a plethora of factors.
While you need to be consistent with GMP requirements above all else, you’ll also need to be:
- collaborative and adaptive to the organisation’s culture
- willing to maintain your integrity in adhering to GMP
- dedicated to patient safety and drug efficacy
- responsible for sustaining the regulatory compliance culture of “quality first”
- capable of sustaining the quality culture at all levels of the operation
Skill requirements and job candidate criteria will rely on the specified role requirements, of course, but also require:
- fitting in with the dynamics of the company that hires you
- whether or not you have previous experience
- or are new to the sector
- expanding your depth of knowledge to fulfil the role
- positive relationships with colleagues
- an ability to read the room (and adapt to the existing culture) while NOT compromising on product quality
- finding the right balance between proactive improvement suggestions and not unnecessarily rocking the boat or inadvertently adding more tasks to already superbly busy working schedules
- patience – this industry can be slower to adapt to change than others because change management is very complex – every change, no matter how seemingly small, needs to be risk-assessed and risk-managed in a very formal risk management system and PQS (Pharmaceutical Quality System)
To start your journey and improve your interview chances when applying for job openings in the Pharmaceutical sector, order a training bundle (industry-specific) or start with 3 essential training courses for GMP-reliant roles: GMP01, GMP02, and Good Recordkeeping.
Page first published April 12, 2021.