Job Profile: Pharmaceuticals Project Manager

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Our world's pharmaceutical industry generates a total yearly revenue of around $300 billion. In a report from the World Health Organization (WHO), it was predicted that this value will skyrocket to $400 billion in the next three years. Pharmaceutical companies make their profits from creating medicinal products from plants or chemicals to promote wellness. None of this revenue would be possible without the hard work of project managers though. Pharmaceuticals project managers are given the hefty task of overseeing the entire development process for new health treatments and medical equipment. From the initial idea through the market sale, project managers work with a team of doctors and clinical researchers to develop pharmaceuticals that are both safe and effective. The following is full job overview discussing what health professionals can expect from focusing their career in pharmaceuticals project management.


According to the mega salary database, the pharmaceuticals project managers currently working in the United States earn a high average annual base salary of $85,388, which is equivalent to an hourly wage around $40.38. Like some other health care professions, project managers in the pharmaceutical industry often receive bonuses, profit sharing, and other benefits to bring their total compensation up to $123,050 yearly.

Beginning Salary

When just starting a career as a pharmaceuticals project manager, individuals can expect to land in the bottom tenth percentile of earnings with an annual salary around $55,059. However, project managers with more years of clinical research experience in pharmaceuticals and leadership roles in big companies often make a six-figure base salary over $135,918 each year.

Key Responsibilities

Pharmaceuticals project managers are given the ultimate responsibility in taking charge of the research and development process so that a new medicine can successfully be born. Project managers must effectively manage the engineers, doctors, researchers, and other experts to make sure that medical trials are running smoothly on time and budget. Daily duties might include creating status reports for management, ensuring compliance with regulatory bodies, managing timelines, evaluating the project risks, specifying project plans, establishing work schedules, keeping meticulous research records, and gathering project resources. At times, pharmaceuticals project managers must make the tricky choice to stop development when too many side effects persist.

Necessary Skills

In order to be successful, pharmaceuticals project managers must be able to multi-task well and wear several different hats in the clinical research process. Project managers must have strong leadership skills for managing at least several pharmaceutical professionals participating in the medical trials. Interpersonal skills with an extroverted personality is a must because pharmaceuticals project managers are constantly interacting with others. Pharmaceuticals project managers should fine-tune their critical thinking, analytical, budgeting, decision-making, and problem-solving skills to be ready for anything. Time management skills are also essential for project managers to keep team members motivated to meet tight deadlines.

Degree and Education Requirements

Before you can jump into the exciting realm of pharmaceuticals project management, you'll need to possess at least a bachelor's degree from a four-year educational institution. Most project managers select an undergraduate major in business administration, but it could also be helpful to earn a degree in management, clinical research, health administration, engineering, or organizational leadership. Several accredited business schools offer certificates in project management that will develop critical specialized skill sets. For quicker advancement beyond entry-level, many pharmaceuticals project managers decide to attend graduate school. Consider pursuing a Master of Health Administration (MHA), MBA in Healthcare Management, or Master of Science in Project Management (MSPM).

Pros and Cons of the Position

Working as a pharmaceuticals project manager will provide several rewards and challenges that should be weighed before selecting the career. Firstly, pharmaceuticals project managers have the rewarding ability to pioneer cutting-edge breakthroughs for treating diseases or illnesses and could potentially save millions of lives. Of course, the pharmaceutical industry offers project managers an above-average salary potential for lucrative rewards too. Unlike many other healthcare management jobs, pharmaceuticals project managers also typically work in 9-to-5 shifts with longer hours only around deadlines. On the flip side, pharmaceuticals project managers can experience a high level of stress in making sure the development process is going smoothly because millions of dollar signs may be on the line. Many have on-call duty to quickly respond to project delays or emergencies. Having years of experience is also often required for working in pharmaceuticals project management.

Getting Started

While earning an appropriate education, it's important for aspiring pharmaceuticals project managers to immediately begin building practical experience in the medical industry. You could participate in clinical research projects, take on administrative internships, work-time at a pharmacy, or volunteer to lead a health-related community project. Some project managers begin their careers by working as clinical research associates before switching to the business management side of pharmaceuticals. Take advantage of online and part-time evening courses in graduate school to further your knowledge without interrupting your career. You may also want to consider bolstering your credentials by earning certification from the Project Management Institute. Requirements vary greatly, but you could be eligible for being a Project Management Professional (PMP), Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM), or Program Management Professional (PgMP).

Future Outlook

In general, the project management field is booming with opportunity for new graduates to manage the production of new products. According to Anderson Economic Group, there will be around 1.5 million project management jobs created across all industries every year until at least 2025. The PMI Institute also predicts that the number of project-oriented employees will rapidly grow by 8.2 million over the next decade. Those wishing to specialize in launching new medicines for pharmaceutical companies may find more competition though. The BLS has reported that employment of natural sciences managers, including those in pharmaceuticals, will grow slower than average at six percent. Jobs will likely be most abundant in private pharmaceutical firms, government agencies, and non-profit health organizations. Overall, pharmaceuticals project managers play a prominent role in the creation of new medical treatments by planning, implementing, testing, and reporting on the project's process. These highly trained managers manage the daily operational aspects of pharmaceutical developments to keep meeting project milestones in a timely fashion. If you choose to become a pharmaceuticals project manager, you could leave your lasting market on the health care field by supporting the growth of the latest life-saving pharmaceuticals. Another great resource: Top 20 Affordable Master's Degrees in Healthcare Administration is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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