Job Title: Scientist
Type of Company: I work for a pharmaceutical company.
Education: BS, Biology, North Carolina Wesleyan College
Previous Experience: I started as an entry level analytical chemist at a pharmaceutical company. After two years I was promoted to production supervisor and chemical lab supervisor.
Job Tasks: I review data other chemists generate for various drug products and work with outside customers to generate business. I also certify that data have been accurately reported and tested correctly. I schedule work for other chemists and handle incoming and outgoing drug samples. We normally work in teams to ensure a work flow that is efficient and effective from sample receipt through testing by chemists to the release of data to customers. But I also investigate any testing that does not meet specifications and come to timely conclusions. I also help to remove daily obstacles from other chemists work plans so they can do their job effectively.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: Some of the good aspects of my job are the on-the-job of new scientific techniques and instrumentation as well as knowing you are ensuring that drugs are safe and effective for the general public.
The job can be stressful when customers are asking for short testing turnaround times.
1.) Major in chemistry if you aspire to work in a lab and become a chemist or scientist. Take courses in analytical chemistry especially.
2.) Get as much experience testing equipment as possible while in college, especially in high-performance liquid chromatography or gas chromatography. These skills are in high demand.
3.) Take an internship at a lab to get familiar with testing requirements and regulations. Volunteer to learn anything you can on the job. Ask questions on the job and to your professors about industry standards and Food and Drug Administration regulations.
Additional Thoughts: I have been surprised at how rewarding this job can be, especially knowing that it may be you or one of your family members in the hospital one day who needs to take the medicine you are testing. In my experience, working in a chemical lab can provide more flexibility than some other jobs, but you also have to be open to learning new things and taking on more responsibility.
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