Top Four California Life Science Job Regions

Published: Feb 15, 2016

Top Four California Life Science Job Regions
February 11, 2016
By Angela Rose for BioSpace.com

If you’re a life science professional in search of your next job, you may want to begin in California. With 2,848 life science organizations ranging from entrepreneurial startups to global operations, the state is a veritable land of opportunity for biologists, chemists, engineers, research associates, scientists and others. An economic engine credited with continually powering area growth, the California life science sector directly employs 281,000 individuals and generates $130 billion in revenue each year.

But its impact is far greater. Many of the companies within it have created—and continue to create—medications, medical devices, research tools and biorenewables that significantly impact human health. Life science professionals in California are actively engaged in research and manufacturing that saves lives with tools and drugs for diagnosing and treating heart disease, cancer and many other diseases.

“California’s life sciences ecosystem is driving the economy and delivering life-changing medicines and technologies that benefit health and well-being far beyond our state’s borders,” Sara Radcliffe, president and chief executive officer of the California Life Sciences Association (CLSA), recently stated in a press release. “The birthplace of biotechnology and a leader in exciting new fields such as digital health, genomics and precision medicine, it’s no coincidence that California is excelling in life sciences job creation, research funding, venture capital investment and so many other measures.”

The CLSA, in cooperation with PwC, recently released their annual report detailing the industry’s growth and current statistics. To help with your job search, here are a few facts we’ve deemed of greatest interest to job seekers like you. Use them to narrow in on your areas of greatest opportunity or to impress hiring managers with your knowledge of the industry. You can find additional facts and figures when you download the CLSA’s report here.

TOP CALIFORNIA LIFE SCIENCE CLUSTERS

While you can find life science companies located across the state, some areas—or clusters—are home to more potential employers. Consider starting your job search in one of the top four: the Bay Area, Los Angeles County, Orange County or San Diego County. See chart here.

Total Life Sciences Employment by Cluster in California, 2014
RANK
CLUSTER
EMPLOYEES
PCT OF TOTAL
1
Bay Area
63,907
23%
2
Los Angeles County
56,246
20%
3
Orange County
42,803
15%
4
San Diego County
38,061
14%
5
Riverside, San Bernardino Counties
12,533
4%
6
Ventura, Santa Barbara Counties
11,834
4%
7
Sacramento Area
10,150
4%
8
Other Northern California
6,145
2%
9
Other Southern California
2,724
1%
 
TOTAL
281,198
100%

California Life Sciences Wages by Sector, 2014
RANK
SECTOR
AVG WAGE
TOTAL WAGE
1
Research & Development, Testing Labs
$127,137
$8.60B
2
Biopharmaceuticals
$157,714
$7.44B
3
Medical Devices, Instruments, Diagnostics
$91,075
$6.79B
4
Wholesale Trade (distrib. of drugs, hospital equip.)
$100,286
$4.65B
5
Academic Research
$69,325
$2.92B
6
Biorenewables (organic compound mfg., ethanol mfg.)
$67,004
$226M
 
TOTAL
$108,893 (avg)
$30.6B

TOP CALIFORNIA LIFE SCIENCE EMPLOYMENT SECTORS

By far, companies specializing in medical devices, instruments and diagnostics employ the greatest number of life science professionals in California. In fact, 74,553 professionals worked for organizations in this sector segment in 2014—an employment increase of 0.2 percent over two years. However, testing labs and research and development companies also offer a large number of opportunities. Employment in this sector section increased 6.7 percent—to 67,619 professionals—from 2012 to 2014.

Top Life Sciences Employment in California, 2012-2014
RANK
SECTOR
2014
2013
2012
Growth 2012-2014
1
Research & Development, Testing Labs
67,619
65,039
63,355
6.7%
2
Biopharmaceuticals
47,163
45,187
44,245
6.6%
3
Wholesale Trade (distrib. of drugs, hospital equip.)
46,346
44,630
44,065
5.2%
4
Academic Research
42,144
41,432
40,729
3.5%
5
Biorenewables (organic compound mfg., ethanol mfg.)
3,372
3,320
3,306
2.0%
6
Medical Devices, Instruments, Diagnostics
74,553
74,642
74,394
0.2%
 
TOTAL
281,198
274,249
270,093
 

Biopharmaceutical companies and academic research are also big employers. While academic research employs fewer life scientists than all but biorenewables, it’s still an influential player. California is home to some of the most prestigious universities and independent research institutes in the nation—attracting brilliant minds from around the globe. According to the CLSA’s data, this “intellectual firepower” attracted 7,328 grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2014—for a total of $3.3 billion.

TOP CALIFORNIA DRUG DEVELOPMENT AREAS

California life science companies had 1,235 new medications in the product development pipeline in 2015. While cancer-related therapies accounted for 366, drugs for the treatment of infectious disease (151), the central nervous system (109), hormonal systems and nephrology (93) and the immune system (77) also filled the pipeline.

California Products by Therapeutic Area, IND through Phase III (Biopharm Insight, Sept. 30, 2015)
RANK
THERAPEUTIC AREA
NUMBER OF PRODUCTS
1
Cancer
366
2
Infectious Diseases (incl HIV)
151
3
Central Nervous System
109
4
Hormonal Systems/Nephrology (incl. Diabetes)
93
5
Immune System
77
6
Musculoskeletal
73
7
Cardiovascular
66
8
Eye / Ear
57
9
Pain
52
10
Gastrointestinal
44
11
Hematological
43
12
Dermatology
40
13
Respiratory
39
14
Genitourinary
14
15
Diagnostic / Imaging / Delivery
7
16
Miscellaneous
4
 
Total Therapies in Pipeline
1,235

“Our latest report paints a vivid picture of California’s life sciences companies thriving through collaboration, innovation, investment and access to resources in academia and the workforce,” Peter Claude, partner and pharmaceutical and life sciences advisory for PwC, said in a press release. “Our collective research has shown that California’s life sciences innovation ecosystem is alive and well; that companies and innovators here are leading in nearly every measureable facet of growth and creating a new era in healthcare marked by the convergence of technologies, information sharing, and focused investment.”

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