Career Focus: Job Trends in Biologics

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This blog post describes trends seen in on-line job postings for jobs that involve Biologics in the U.S. from November 1, 2015 to October 31, 2016. We show you the skills employers request most often in job ads, employers posting the most jobs, and other information. To do this, we analyzed on-line job postings using a tool called Labor Insight from Burning Glass Technologies. See the Methods section, below, for more information.

If you are interested in working in the Pharmaceutical or Biotechnology fields in the hot new area of biologics, it helps to know if jobs are available where you want to work and which employers are hiring.  Once you know these things, you can better choose Master’s of Business and Science electives and professional development activities outside your academic program that can help you get the job you really want. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What Are Biologics?

The following definition is provided by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and can be found here: http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/CentersOffices/OfficeofMedicalProductsandTobacco/CBER/ucm133077.htm

What is a Biological Product? Biological products include a wide range of products such as vaccines, blood and blood components, allergenics, somatic cells, gene therapy, tissues, and recombinant therapeutic proteins. Biologics can be composed of sugars, proteins, or nucleic acids or complex combinations of these substances, or may be living entities such as cells and tissues. Biologics are isolated from a variety of natural sources - human, animal, or microorganism - and may be produced by biotechnology methods and other cutting-edge technologies. Gene-based and cellular biologics, for example, often are at the forefront of biomedical research, and may be used to treat a variety of medical conditions for which no other treatments are available.

How do biological products differ from conventional drugs? In contrast to most drugs that are chemically synthesized and their structure is known, most biologics are complex mixtures that are not easily identified or characterized. Biological products, including those manufactured by biotechnology, tend to be heat sensitive and susceptible to microbial contamination. Therefore, it is necessary to use aseptic principles from initial manufacturing steps, which is also in contrast to most conventional drugs. Biological products often represent the cutting-edge of biomedical research and, in time, may offer the most effective means to treat a variety of medical illnesses and conditions that presently have no other treatments available.

For more information on this exciting new area of innovation, see this great new report!

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________National Trends

In the last year, employers posted nearly 8,916 entry-level positions requiring at least a Bachelor’s degree that involve working with Biologics.  Entry level jobs include those that request between 0-5 years of experience.   

There are many different job titles involved in Biologics work, with no one type of job dominating the mix.

As you can see in the table below, no one job title makes up more than 2% of all biologics related jobs posted last year. Account Managers (Sales), Process Engineers, Regulatory Affairs Managers, Medical Writers, and Biologists topped the list, but each job made up only between 1.4 and 1.9% of all Biologics job postings in the last year. 
 

The top 10 employers for Biologics jobs nationwide are: 

1) Sanofi Aventis
2) Catalent Pharma Solutions
3) Merck & Company
4) Bristol-Myers Squibb
5) Pfizer
6) Novartis
7) inVentiv Health
8) Astrazeneca
9) Abbott Laboratories
10) Baxalta

 Jobs in Biologics are most highly concentrated in the New York/New Jersey/Pennsylvania area, easily accessible to MBS graduates who wish to stay in the area.

There are also strong clusters of jobs in the Boston area, California, and a few other urban hubs around the U.S.

Map: Concentration of Biologics Job Ads across the U.S. November 2015-October 2016 

 

Employers Seek Applicants with a Mix of Business and Science Skills for Biologics Jobs

As the chart below shows, employers prioritize a mix of science skills, such as biologics development, biotechnology, validation, chemistry, as well as key business and manufacturing related skills, including project management, Good Manufacturing Practices, Excel, Budgeting, and others. The MBS program positions students well to be competitive for these types of jobs. 

When we look at the data by clusters of related skills, we can see that the largest set of skills needed combines knowledge of both science and manufacturing.  IT and Business knowledge are also quite important for these jobs. 

Conclusions

There are a wide range of opportunities to work with biologics in multiple types of roles. The jobs are concentrated most heavily on the east coast, especially in the tri-state area near Rutgers and in the Boston areas. There are also other pockets of growth around the country.

To succeed in this emerging area of work, students should consider learning not only about the science of biologics, but also about development and manufacturing processes. Obtaining business skills such as project management, budgeting, and others, will also likely help you to find a satisfying position in this area of work. 

Methods

To do this analysis, we used a tool called Labor Insight from Burning Glass. It allows you to mine data from on-line job postings so you can see trends in the job market, such as job titles and skills in high demand and where jobs are concentrated, among other things. Because many jobs are posted several times in different places online, the system uses several methods to eliminate as many duplicate postings as possible (See here for more information: http://burning-glass.com). To get to the interesting information, Labor Insight breaks up all the pieces of the job description into fields that can be analyzed.

This analysis included on-line Biologics job postings using a special filter designed by Burning Glass to locate these job postings. We examined all Biologics job ads except those that required additional education or credentials beyond the MBS level. We examined jobs posted from November 1, 2015- October 31, 2016. To help students and other entry-level jobseekers, we limited the analysis to jobs requiring at least a Bachelor’s degree and 5 years or less experience.

While this analysis can show you important trends in the job market, there are limitations. Not all jobs are advertised on-line and not all of those on-line are captured by Burning Glass. The unstructured nature of job ads can make it difficult for the system to identify individual pieces of information effectively in some cases. So, there may be some irrelevant jobs caught in the net and some relevant jobs may get left out. Overall, however, I hope that this analysis of “real-time” jobs data gives you a basic understanding of what is in demand in your area of interest.