The Benefits of Different Life Sciences Career Paths

Career Paths

What factors are most important when you think about your career path? Are you interested in earning the highest salary possible? Do you want to feel challenged at work? Is your goal to leave a lasting impact on your community? Perhaps you want to work for a large organization with a well-established reputation. Regardless of what your strongest motivation is, there is a career path in life sciences that can help you find fulfillment.

After receiving a degree in an aspect of life science, there are quite a few avenues you can pursue. Understanding which direction to take can be challenging for many professionals, whether they are in an early career stage, or later in their career. A recent BioSpace Community Poll asked about which direction you took (or plan to take after school) in your life sciences career. Here are the benefits of each life sciences career path!

Public Companies

Many people desire to work for large, publicly traded organizations. That is understandable, because these are usually some of the most notable companies within their respective industries and might even be on the Fortune 500 list. Some pros to being employed by a public organization include being in a corporate environment with a lot of resources, generally higher pay ranges and being aligned with an organization with a good reputation. It’s a common belief that having experience with a public organization “looks good on your resume.”

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Private Companies

Private companies are also usually top-of-mind for life sciences professionals because they can offer competitive salaries and interesting opportunities. While they may or may not have the feel of being in a large corporation, many people find that you can do specialized work and projects that are meaningful. Private organizations on the smaller side can also cultivate a more personal environment where you don’t feel like you are just a number among the staff.


Is job stability one of the most important factors for you? If so, working in government might be one of your best options. Almost everywhere you look, you’ll see large companies going through reorganizations and laying off employees. These types of massive restructuring efforts are much less common within government positions. Also, being employed by the government can allow you to see the direct impact of your work in the local, state or national communities.

Stayed in Academia then Moved to a Corporate Position

Teaching and focusing on research are two areas that many life sciences professionals are drawn to. Within the academic environment you can inspire and motivate students daily. After developing key research skills and valuable experience, some academics plan to move into a more corporate environment. Usually, this transition can allow them to make more money and be involved in projects with more practical applications for consumers and patients.

Started Your Own Company

Striking out on your own and embracing entrepreneurship is another avenue that some life sciences professionals consider. Maybe they have a cutting-edge idea that isn’t being capitalized on in the market. Or an entrepreneur might see a way to improve a product or service. Starting your own company can be a big risk, however it’s hard to find another option where you’ll have the same amount of flexibility, freedom and control over your career. Being self employed also allows you to have a choice over the subject matter you focus on.

How much thought have you put into your career path? Have you been intentional about what kind of work you’ve done and the type of environment you’ve been in? A lot of professionals are passive in their careers and don’t actually think about the factors that are most important to them. There are distinct benefits to being employed by public companies, private organizations, within government, academia and starting your own company. Based on your goals and preferences, which career path do you think is best for you?

Porschia Parker is a Certified Coach, Professional Resume Writer, and Founder of Fly High Coaching. ( She empowers ambitious professionals and motivated executives to add $10K on average to their salaries.

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