Careers for Lab Professionals Who Want to Get Off the Bench: Molecular, Cyto, Histo, Med Tech, etc.
By Peggy McKee
When we go off to college, sometimes we choose a career that just does not satisfy our needs. Many times scientists with the BS, MS, or PhD in the lifesciences or other science areas find themselves to be unsatisfied with the position that they find themselves in a year or two after graduation. What seemed fun and exciting is now boring and oppressive. Often the love of science and the desire to continue learning is still there, but not the desire to continue in the present career path. If you find yourself in this position, here’s a list of possible jobs for you, complete with brief descriptions where needed. These positions in sales, service, and marketing exist in all areas of medical sales: laboratory, clinical diagnostics, molecular, cellular, medical device, biotechnology, histology, pathology, hospital equipment, and pharmaceutical. If I miss any potential careers, feel free to add them in the comments below. Okay?
Possible careers for those with strong science education but no longer wish to be on the bench:
Inside Sales Positions – These are usually like call centers. The key here is to be okay with the cold call and to have the optimistic attitude for success. These positions can be fun and lucrative. They usually have set hours and require no travel.
Outside Sales Positions – These are usually field-based positions. They require someone with a lot of self-discipline and of course, that “sales personality.” These positions can be extremely lucrative and have a lot of flexibility. Depending on the size of the territory, the travel can be daunting. You should consider going on a ride along if this is interesting to you -- see this video for more info…. While I’m at it, I have three posts that explain different types of medical sales -- Part I, Part II, and Part III, as well as posts on laboratory sales vs. medical device sales, and how pharmaceutical sales compares.
Business Development/Technology Transfer – These positions can range from someone who has a very strong technical understanding who investigates future products or acquisitions to someone who is a super salesman. You need to clearly understand your personality and specifically the job you’re looking at. These positions are all different. Assume nothing – ask a lot of questions.
Applications Specialists – Usually the “applications” part means that you will help make sure that the assay or test is working. Your company may provide a platform and your responsibility is to help the customer get their assays working on your instrumentation. This can be very challenging, and a good field apps person has to be a great communicator. These can be high-travel positions.
Field Service Positions – This position is usually responsible for setting up a new system that a customer purchased and troubleshooting when that system is not functioning correctly. These can be high-travel positions. (click here for more info)
Field Technical Support – Same as above.
Customer Service – Maybe the company needs an extremely technical person to help the customer purchase the correct products. This will usually be a phone-based position. The hours will be set and include very little travel.
Technical Support – In-house – like the field-based position, but without the travel. Communication skills for this position are really important.
Marketing: Strategic – (It’s important to note the difference between strategic and tactical.) The strategic marketing person is responsible for figuring out where the company should invest for future products and what the specifications for those products should be. This is an original-thought kind of person who understands the value of customer feedback and communication.
Marketing: Tactical – This person usually supports the field sales force with bulletins, pricing, and product training. Marketing job descriptions that do not clarify tactical vs. strategic are probably both. Many scientists pursue the MBA to move into marketing. Marketing positions can have a lot of travel. Be sure to ask about the requirements of every job. Never assume anything in the interview process.
Some additional careers you might consider that use your technical background:
Teaching – You probably know as much about this as I do…BioJobBlog has a post on this, as well as other great info on alternative science careers.
Patent/IP work – Some scientists actually pursue a law degree to marry with the technology. Every company will have one of these on staff or on retainer.
Can you think of any more?
Source: PHC Consulting
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