Education and experience in either biotechnology or project management could set you up to begin a career as a biotech project manager. These professionals work in both capacities within a biotech firm to oversee a scientific research project from start to finish. Job growth is expected to be very strong in this field in the coming decade, and the more advanced your degree, the better you can compete for high level positions in the job market.
Biotech project managers take established business principles and apply them in a scientific setting in order to create new products or improve existing ones. The business portion of their job involves overseeing the life cycle of a scientific project (goal setting, execution, results analysis, etc.), while the scientific portion involves working with scientists, managers, and research sponsors to coordinate clinical and basic research projects. While those with a high school diploma can obtain an entry-level position in this field if they have clinical or product development experience, a bachelor's or associate's degree is preferred by most employers. Someone who enjoys research and analysis, business, and working as part of a team may find this to be a rewarding career field.
|Required Education||Associate's or bachelor's degree|
|Other Requirements||Clinical or product development experience (in lieu of a degree)|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||23% (biomedical engineers)|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$86,220 (biomedical engineers)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Biotech Project Manager Job Duties
Biotech project managers apply established business principles in a scientific setting. Their duties can be distinguished by the business or science component of the project management role.
Project managers oversee the scientific project lifecycle. They set goals, determine the plan, execute the process and evaluate the results. The project manager is responsible for coordinating all the components of the project, which may include determining and delegating resources, resolving conflicts, communicating goals, motivating the participants, prioritizing tasks, managing change and analyzing the outcome. As facilitators, project managers accommodate diverse groups and interests, from project sub-teams to senior management.
In a biotech setting, project managers coordinate clinical and basic research projects. They collaborate with scientists, research sponsors, management and other stakeholders. The project manager determines study protocol, gathers data and analyzes the results. They may be responsible for determining study milestones and delivering progress reports. Biotech project managers might also be accountable for research compliance with FDA regulations and Good Clinical Practices, a protocol used by the FDA.
Educational Requirements for Biotech Project Managers
Project managers are found at many levels in biotech companies. A high school education combined with significant clinical experience may be sufficient to secure an entry-level position; however, advanced scientific and business education is required for senior managers.
Entry-Level Educational Requirements
Candidates with a high school diploma can obtain an entry-level job as a biotech project manager if they have sufficient clinical or product development experience. Those with a background in science, math, statistics, accounting, and knowledge of management and scientific software have the best opportunities. Clinical research experience, particularly in areas such as cardiology, oncology and neurology, is frequently sought by potential employers. An associate's or bachelor's degree in science or project management is preferred by most employers and may substitute for experience.
Advanced Educational Requirements
Biotech project managers who advance to senior management levels have a sophisticated scientific and business education. A Ph.D. in a relevant science is usually necessary, as is drug development and clinical research experience. An MBA is a significant advantage. With the increased focus on biotech education, more institutions are now offering a dual master's MBA/Biotech degree. Although certification is not usually required, the Project Management Professional certification offered through the Project Management Institute and Six Sigma certification, a business management strategy, are preferred by some biotech companies.
Salary and Employment Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't list salary or employment predictions specifically for biotech project managers. The related field of biomedical engineers could see a 23% increase in employment opportunities between 2014 and 2024, the BLS reported. The median salary for biomedical engineers was $86,220 as of May 2015, stated the BLS.
A career as a biotech manager could be rewarding for someone with an education and industry experience in both business and science. The job applies principles from both of these fields to plan and oversee scientific projects, often while working closely with a team of scientists. A high school degree may be sufficient for some jobs, but typically a higher degree is required, particularly for senior positions.