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Pharmaceutical Engineer: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a pharmaceutical engineer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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Pharmaceutical engineers help develop and design pharmaceutical products, and also may be involved with research, or the planning of manufacturing and production. A bachelor's degree is a minimum requirement for entering this field, although a master's or doctoral degree may be preferred depending on the responsibilities of the position.

Essential Information

Pharmaceutical engineering involves the manufacturing process of pharmaceuticals and related therapies, and pharmaceutical engineers are the professionals who help develop the manufacturing plants and design pharmaceutical products. A Bachelor of Science is the minimum amount of education required to become a pharmaceutical engineer, but a master's or doctoral degree is strongly encouraged.

Required Education Bachelor of Science minimum requirement; master's or doctoral degree in pharmaceutical engineering also available
Other Requirements Certification may be beneficial; must be renewed every three years
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 4% for broad field of engineers not listed specifically by industry
Median Salary (2015)* $95,900 for broad field of engineers not listed specifically by industry

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description for Pharmaceutical Engineers

Pharmaceutical engineers may specialize within different areas of pharmaceutical sciences, such as product delivery, regulatory requirements and design quality, among other options. They can work in a variety of science-based, hands-on settings. Some industries welcoming pharmaceutical engineers include pharmaceutical companies, universities, agencies and national laboratories. The National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are two possible employers. From discovering a drug to developing regulatory guidelines, pharmaceutical engineers work towards the development and betterment of society's health.

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Pharmaceutical Engineer's Duties

Depending on their emphasis, pharmaceutical engineers can be involved with conceiving, designing and producing pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical therapies from biological and chemical materials. They may also have a hand in packaging and labeling the end products. Pharmaceutical engineers spend a lot of their time in research facilities and manufacturing plants. Their responsibilities also include quality assurance and regulation. This process requires them to sustain facilities compliant with the FDA's Good Manufacturing Practice Regulations, as well ensure environmental and personal safety.

Requirements for Becoming a Pharmaceutical Engineer

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists a Bachelor of Science as the very minimum education required for pharmaceutical engineers. An individual wishing to work in research and development typically needs to hold a master's or doctoral degree; colleges and universities offer graduate programs in pharmaceutical engineering. Pharmaceutical engineers may choose to become a Certified Pharmaceutical Industry Professional, which is a designation administered by the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering. The credential must be renewed every three years, and anyone in the pharmaceutical industry qualifies for certification.

Salary and Employment Information

The BLS doesn't currently compile statistics specifically for pharmaceutical engineers, but it stated that all engineers who aren't reported separately earned a median annual salary of $95,900 as of May 2015. The BLS estimated slow employment growth for this category, at 4% between 2014 and 2024.

Pharmaceutical engineers have a range of responsibilities, including research, design, and planning for manufacturing of pharmaceutical products and other therapies. They need to be aware of quality regulation and facility compliance, and can work for universities, laboratories or private companies. Pharmaceutical engineers typically earn at least a bachelor's degree, and can pursue certification in this field.

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