Regulatory affairs specialists enjoy job growth and security even when the pharmaceutical industry's outlook as a whole is on the decline. As pharmaceutical companies are forced to cut jobs and scale back drug production, they rely on their regulatory affairs specialists more than ever to get new drugs tested, approved and on the market in as little time and with as little expense as possible. Experienced, well-educated regulatory affairs specialists are so hard to find that companies have been looking for potential candidate in other disciplines. Despite conflicting reports from both private researchers and the Department of Labor regarding the pharmaceutical industry's future, regulatory affairs jobs continue to hold their own in a competitive market.
Both positive and negative forecasts exist regarding the pharmaceutical industry's future growth. The U.S. Department of Labor anticipates 24 percent growth, much higher than the national average of 9 percent. They report that "employment is expected to increase through 2016" and that "pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing will be one of the fastest growing industries." On the other hand, a study conducted by Regent Atlantic Capital and Fiduciary Network reported the opposite. Their research predicted an industry-wide job loss of 50,000 through 2012. They blame economic downturns, expiration of major drug patents, outsourcing to private laboratories and pressure to reduce the cost of health care for this loss. Both sources indicate regulatory affairs positions are trending in an overall positive direction despite the overall negative direction of the drug industry.
Education and Outlook
Regulatory affairs specialists with the most education will experience the most opportunity and the highest pay. Recruiters especially look for candidates with master's or doctoral degrees in science, but also regularly hire people with medical and law backgrounds who demonstrate related skills and experience. The trend for regulatory affairs professionals with a bachelor's degree entering the field has been by way of internal promotion. These workers begin working in other areas, such as research and development, and are hired from within. Industry demand for these fringe positions is expected to decrease even as regulatory affairs jobs increase, meaning those with with bachelor's degrees will have a harder time entering the field.
Economy and Outlook
The U.S. Department of Labor states "the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industry is not highly sensitive to changes in economic conditions." The industry consistently experiences growth in both jobs and profits, regardless of the overall economic climate. Whether the pharmaceutical industry expands or contracts during a down economy, regulatory affairs specialists are the least negatively impacted, as they are considered the gears of the industry. In contrast to the Department of Labor's research, a report published by IMS Health stated that "the U.S. pharmaceutical market is expected to contract in 2009" as a result of the economy. They claim that job loss prevents people from going to the doctor and filling prescriptions, and that this will translate directly into job losses.
According to research conducted by Salary.com and PayScale.com, inexperienced or entry level professionals start out at around $50,000 annually. Those specialists with as five to nine years of experience earn an average of $66,000 per year. As experience levels reach the twenty year mark, median salaries are around $88,000. Regulatory affairs specialists who have master's or doctoral degrees or who have managerial duties can often earn salaries that exceed $150,000 per year. These salaries often include generous performance bonuses.
Experience and Outlook
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, pharmaceutical companies are having a difficult time finding enough highly qualified, experienced regulatory affairs specialists to fill their open positions. Those who meet these criteria are expected to have more job offers than they can handle. In fact, there has been such a shortage of regulatory affairs professionals that companies have been investing money in recruiting and training promising candidates from other disciplines, just to fill employment gaps. The job outlook for experienced regulatory affairs specialists is one of the best in the nation.
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United States Department of Labor