Life Sciences Manager: Job Description and Education Requirements

Sep 27, 2019

Life sciences managers require a fair amount of formal education. Learn more about the education requirements, job duties and employment outlook to see if this is the right career for you.

Part of the duties of a life science manager is working with and directing a team of scientists on projects, as well as reporting directly to clients and supervisors on project progress. Life science managers must hold at least a bachelor's degree, but programs specifically for life sciences management are a bit hard to find. Life science managers should be prepared for a combination of human resources, administrative, scientific and supervisory tasks.

Essential Information

Life sciences managers are tasked with coordinating research, production and design as well as assisting and reviewing scientists. They also train their staff on new technology and develop new innovations that they can implement in their projects. Managers oversee, monitor and set the scientific goals they are given by executives. Their education, which may include both undergraduate and graduate study, involves managerial and life sciences classes.

Required Education Bachelor's degree at minimum; some also have master's degrees, Ph.D.s or even MBAs
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 6% for all natural science managers
Median Annual Salary (2018)* $123,860 for all natural science managers

Source:*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

Life sciences managers are the directors of every facet of a scientific project. They make sure that their teams adhere to safety regulations, policies, parameters and rules to ensure that operations are adequately performed and carried out at maximum efficiency. Life sciences managers map out project plans and create the initial concept of an assignment in order to provide their teams with an idea of what they will be doing, a projected time frame for the project and the final objective.

A life sciences manager is not only in charge of leading a team of scientists, but is also in charge of briefing and updating clients and executives on a project's progress and what results research and experiments have yielded. Essentially, they become the face of the project on which they are currently working.

Life sciences managers hire, evaluate and work with physical scientists, biologists, chemists and other life scientists. They also plan project budgets and coordinate efforts with financial, marketing and production departments. Aspiring managers may also find it helpful to have some prior administrative experience to aid them with their multitude of tasks.

Salary and Employment Outlook

Life sciences managers are grouped with natural sciences managers by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and natural science managers were expected to see growth from 2018 until 2028, which is as fast as the average. The BLS stated in its May 2018 report that an annual average salary of $139,680 was earned by natural sciences managers.

Education Requirements

The BLS recommends earning a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree in anatomy, biochemistry, virology or any other life science field ( As of November 2016, programs in life sciences management were relatively rare, but a few schools offered relevant programs. Aspiring life sciences managers learn how to become effective leaders and are prepared for the irregular business field that they might encounter. Students may also have the opportunity to put their education to use in real world situations through internships. For further management preparation, a graduate program that includes coursework in computer sciences may be advantageous. Learning about law and government can help with laws and regulations.

As science is a fluid field, the BLS suggests that managers continuously upgrade their scientific education. Managers may want to pursue a Master of Business Administration program to aid them in becoming better administrators.

Life science managers oversee research and scientific projects, their teams, and provide project feedback. If life sciences managers can't find a program specific to their title, they can consider degrees in other life sciences fields, such as anatomy or biochemistry. Life science managers should also have management and administrative experience.

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