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Top 5 Jobs for Introverted Life Scientists

5/1/2017 11:46:45 AM

Top 5 Jobs for Introverted Life Scientists May 11, 2017
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

What kind of PhD-level science jobs would be right for an introvert?
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The most expected answer is probably, “All of them.”

Because, after all, many research-based jobs are focused on independent work, rather than group projects. It’s not like, say, sales, nursing or retail, where being an introvert would likely be a liability.

But even research scientists can’t hide out in a cave—in both academia and industry there will be collaborative projects, committee meetings, conferences, teaching, seminars and other activities involving a more extroverted attitude, even if it’s just temporary.

That said, Catherine Sorbara, who calls herself “an introverted PhD,” writing for the Cheeky Scientist, presents five possible jobs in science for introverts.

Top 5 Jobs for Introverted Life Scientists (No particular order)
Technical Writer
$69,850 to $126,000
Quantitative Analyst
$116,000 to $163,500
Patent Examiner
$55,000 to $153,000
Clinical Data Manager
Scientific Editor
$57,067 to $100,000

1. Technical Writer

Technical writers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “prepare instruction manuals, how-to guides, journal articles, and other supporting documents to communicate complex and technical information more easily.”

For life science PhDs (or even MDs), and even people with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a life science degree, this definition misses the mark. Technical writers in biopharma can have very good and lucrative careers writing regulatory submission materials such as Investigational New Drug (IND) applications and various other materials related to pharmacovigilance and compliance. Their work involves staying up-to-date on global regulatory requirements such as ICH, GLP, GCP, GVP, ISOs, and GHTF guidelines, and a high-level of knowledge of, you guessed it, science.

Sorbara writes, “Travel is rare and working independently from a home office is quite common. There is no team component—written pieces will be sent to a senior editor and you will receive feedback and corrections in return.”

Looking at BioSpace's jobs listing, there are currently 501 postings for technical writers, with examples including Sr. Technical Writer II Investigations-QC Chemistry for Ajinomoto Althea in San Diego, Lead Medical Writer for Dart NeuroScience, also in San Diego, and CMC Technical Writing Manager for Orchard Therapeutics in Foster City, Calif.

The Department of Labor said in 2016 the median pay for technical writers was $69,850. The problem with that figure is that it likely includes technical writers who work in IT, manufacturing, engineering, business, as well as biopharma. According to Glassdoor, the national average for medical writers is $76,031, with a maximum of around $105,000, although a closer look at some of its results show the high end is occasionally around $126,000 and $116,000.

2. Quantitative Analyst

Of course, a technical writer probably likes to write (not really a given with many technical people). If you’re more analytical and into numbers, then quantitative analyst might be more your cup of tea. Sorbara writes, “This person applies mathematical and statistical methods to financial and risk management problems. They go on to develop and implement complex models used by firms to make financial and business decisions on important issues, such as investments and pricing.”

This seems, to some extent, to fall into the area of Data Science which is a super-hot field in biopharma these days.

BioSpace's postings currently include 134 jobs with quantitative analyst in the title. Examples are Business Intelligence and Data Analyst Hematology for AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals (AZN) in Gaithersburg, Mary., Bioinformatics Scientist for BioNano Genomics in San Diego, and Scientific Data Analyst, Informatics, for Nurix in San Francisco.

These types of jobs typically require higher degrees in mathematics, statistics, epidemiology, computer science, engineering, and a background in life science.

According to the 2017 Technology & IT Salary Guide, data scientists in 2017 are expected to have salaries that range from $116,000 to $163,500.

3. Patent Examiner

Sorbara writes, “A patent examiner is someone with a scientific or engineering background that helps regulate the granting of patents.” And no, a patent examiner does not necessarily need to be an attorney.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says, “Patent examiners review inventors’ applications and decide if a patent should be awarded. To help navigate the application process, inventors may hire a patent agent or patent attorney. And patent technology specialist advises attorneys on the technical or scientific details of an invention.”

According to Glassdoor, the median salary for a patent examiner is $83,117, ranging from $55,000 to $153,000.

Examples of related job postings outside the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office include IP Coordinator AstraZeneca (AZN) in Gaithersburg, Mary., and Senior Trademark Specialist also for AstraZeneca, in Wilmington, Del.

More information about patent examiner jobs for the U.S. PTO can be found on the USPTO website.

4. Clinical Data Manager

A Clinical Data Manager is typically a statistician who, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “collect(s) and compile(s) clinical data, such as how well a drug works or how many people have contracted an infectious disease, using diagnostic tests, surveys, opinion polls and experiments.”

The annual median salary in 2015 was $80,110 (for all statisticians). Sorbara writes, “Such a role requires that you are knowledgeable about a range of factors that can affect a clinical trial, such as the demographics of the patient population and adverse side-effects of the test drug compound. Most of these positions can be found in pharmaceutical companies, contract research organizations, or anywhere which serves as a site for clinical trials.”

Current examples of jobs include Clinical Data Manager for Miltenyi Biotec in Cambridge, Mass., Clinical Data Management Systems Manager for Amgen (AMGN) in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and Sr. Clinical Data Associate for Neurocrine Biosciences (NBIX) in San Diego, Calif.

5. Scientific Editor

Sorbara writes, “Ever wish you could be the one deciding the fate of submitted manuscripts to those prestigious journals? A career in scientific publishing brings together many skills that PhDs possess while being ideal for introverts.”

It’s worth pointing out that Sorbana is primarily discussing being an editor for a peer review journal. But there are several book and textbook publishers that would value people with higher levels of life science degrees who are adept at writing and editing as well as catching technical problems in manuscripts.

Glassdoor indicates that the national average for technical editor salaries is $57,067 with a high of about $100,000.

Related jobs include Senior Publications Leader for AstraZeneca in Wilmington, Del. and Senior Medical Communications for Analysis Group in Menlo Park, Calif.

Introversion should not be the final factor if your interest is in being a research scientist. As most people know, there are degrees of introversion and extroversion. Sometimes the best distinction is that an introvert is drained by social interactions while an extrovert gains energy from social interactions. It doesn’t necessarily mean shy. And some people can “turn on” their personality in social situations.

Laurence Shatkin, author of “200 Best Jobs for Introverts,” identifies at least six different types of introverts: realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, and conventional. Knowing which type you are can help you identify the best type of jobs for you.

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