Masters, PhD or a job?

Male student reading a book

What are the options for me when I graduate?

Before you consider the next step, make sure you are making the right decisions whilst studying for your undergraduate degree. For people interested in an eventual career in the pharmaceutical industry there is evidence that many people make the wrong choice, and then have difficulty getting into the type of work they wish to do.

The opportunities for people with a good life science or chemistry degree are wide ranging. There are also a number of opportunities for those with maths, physics, engineering and IT qualifications. Successful recruits are likely to have spent time in industry as part of their degree or through a summer placement. A new graduate can expect some of their work to be routine, at least initially.

Although there are fewer opportunities for those with a PhD, the starting salary will be higher and the work they will be expected to do will be more investigative, using the skills and knowledge acquired during postgraduate study. A PhD is very useful if you see yourself continuing with research, but is less useful in other parts of the industry.

The following findings have been taken from the Pfizer Skills Report (the full text can be accessed from the link on the right hand side of this page):

"It is vital to ensure that education and training provides the requisite skills base.  From the deficiencies described in our report it is clear that this is currently often not the case.  There are several commonly shared areas of concern across disciplines

  1. A lack of knowledge of the basics e.g. chemists who cannot describe what a mole of compound is, or clinicians with little knowledge of the principles of clinical trial design
  2. A lack of knowledge as to how to apply theory to actual practice e.g. graduates who can only follow a prescribed protocol and do not have the skills to develop new methodologies independently
  3. A lack of practical skills e.g. in vivo biology and toxicology or the awareness of the types, uses and applications of complex technologies." (Pfizer, April 2007)

Therefore, make sure you have a sound grounding in the fundamentals of your discipline and the practical abilities to apply the knowledge you have learnt.

For more information to help you make the decision between further study and employment, take a look at Why a Masters or PhD?


Case study

Quality and compliance

Eamonn, Executive Director, using a computerThere is no such thing as a typical day – the main feature of my work is the variety – on any particular day, I could be almost anywhere in the world.