From unprecedented situations like the COVID-19 pandemic to the continued aging of the worldwide population, there are many pressing medical needs today that require the expertise of biomedical science professionals.
This increased demand has led to a myriad of exciting opportunities for those with the specific knowledge and skill sets required to contribute to the ongoing evolution of the practice. What’s more, the roles defining the biomedical science industry are not limited to those based in a lab. The field has expanded to include many business and clinical roles, as well as those rooted in research and science. In this way, professionals now more than ever are able to take a passion for biomedical science and layer in their unique interests and abilities to find the perfect role within the field.
Read on to learn more about exactly what the practice of biomedical science entails, the variety of job opportunities available to those with master’s- and PhD-level training, and how you can kickstart your career in biomedical science today.
What is Biomedical Science?
Biomedical science combines the study of human physiology, human pathology, and pharmacology to draw conclusions and make necessary advances toward solving significant health problems facing society.
“It’s really an all-encompassing term,” says David Janero, director of the pharmaceutical sciences graduate program at Northeastern. “It goes from wet-lab research to address problems associated with therapeutics, disease mechanisms, and other related areas, [and] invokes disciplines such as pharmacology, biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology, molecular medicine, medicinal chemistry, and so on.”
The many facets of this work allow aspiring biomedical scientists the opportunity to tailor their careers to fit their unique interests—a benefit of this particular field that has led to increased interest among those with a passion for science and medicine.
Pursuing a Career in Biomedical Science
Despite the many scientific applications of biomedical science, Janero explains that the jobs available within this industry today are not limited to those related to research. “I think the general perception is that biomedical science is mainly a wet-lab discipline,” he says. “But there really is a diversity of opportunities in this field.”
Did You Know: A “wet-lab” is a laboratory in which scientists handle chemicals or other “wet” materials in order to conduct experiments. A “dry-lab,” on the other hand, is a location where scientists draw conclusions about realities that occur naturally in the world by replicating them using computers or mathematics.
A biomedical device must go through a series of phases—ranging from development and testing to sales and marketing—before it can be implemented as a medical solution. For that reason, “it’s not uncommon to have a project team…[made up of] laboratory technicians, salespeople, marketing people, legal people, as well as scientists of various disciplines,” Janero says.
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Biomedical science professionals also have the unique opportunity to work in the private or public sector, allowing them to further tailor their career opportunities to fit their particular interests.
Yet no matter which applications of biomedical science one is looking to pursue, professionals must start by obtaining an advanced degree in the field. As Janero explains, “solid training in the biomedical sciences at the PhD or master’s level provides a kind of necessary flexibility, because it calls upon the student to develop a number of skills not limited to those required at the bench.”
This includes the honing of critical soft skills—such as communication, critical thinking, and collaboration—alongside practical hands-on abilities, a combination that is vital for success in all of today’s biomedical science roles.
Below we explore the top five career options available for those at both biomedical scientists with either a master’s or a PhD in the field.
5 Top Biomedical Science Careers for Master’s Degree Holders
Biomedical Laboratory Technician
Salary: $62,007 per year
Responsibilities: Biomedical laboratory technicians hold a wide array of responsibilities, primarily within a wet-lab setting. According to Janero, they participate in drug discoveries, profiling novel compounds as potential drugs, synthesizing and purifying new chemical matter, and much more.
Senior Clinical Research Associate
Salary: $99,607 per year
Responsibilities: Clinical research associates provide advanced technical support during the clinical research process, including testing, handling equipment, and presenting findings. Due to the private nature of this work, these individuals are often held to high ethical standards and must strictly follow established processes to prevent unwanted contamination of collected data or patient records.
Salary: $69,189 per year
Responsibilities: Biomedical scientists at this level can design and implement experiments in a research environment. They may work independently or under the supervision of PhD-level scientists, and are often required to publish articles in academic journals on their findings.
Senior Medical Writer
Salary: $86,890 per year
Responsibilities: Medical writers create manuals and other training or educational materials for readers both with and without medical backgrounds. They often conduct the research needed to develop these materials and thus require a robust understanding of the biomedical science field as a whole. Their writing must translate between audiences, speaking to medical professionals, patients, and even, at times, commercial audiences.
Senior Medicinal Chemist
Salary: $108,791 per year
Responsibilities: Medical chemists create the chemicals and compounds that are used to develop helpful medicinal drugs. This often includes making calculated adjustments to chemical compounds while studying each chemical’s reaction to each other and its environment and leveraging that information to understand how a drug will behave in the human body.
5 Biomedical Science Careers for PhD Holders
Tenure Track Professor of Biomedical Science
Salary: $95,437 per year
Responsibilities: A full time, tenure track professor of biomedical science teaches cohorts of graduate and undergraduate students about a variety of biomedical science practices. Many professors at this level also continue their hands-on work in the university’s labs. They may mentor students, oversee their research, and launch university-funded projects or trials.
Medical Sales Director
Salary: $101,228 per year
Responsibilities: Medical sales representatives combine a vast knowledge of biomedical science practices with the advanced communication skills of a salesman. Their primary responsibility is to sell medical devices to private companies and clinics, including tracking down potential customers, developing a pitch of their products, and addressing any posed questions or concerns. Medical sales directors may also mentor entry-level sales reps on their teams.
Senior Biomedical Scientist
Salary: $104,151 per year
Responsibilities: The title of senior biomedical scientist is an entry-level wet-lab role for PhD-holders. These individuals spend much of their time carrying out research hands-on, reporting their findings to those higher up within their organizations.
Salary: $105,838 per year
Responsibilities: Principal investigators take the lead in laboratory research. They set parameters for experiments, outline the steps for testing, and oversee a team of scientists who then conduct the experiments. According to Janero, at this stage, a principal investigator “basically becomes an internal guide and advisor to your group as well as to the entity you’re working in,” which can range from a university department to a pharmaceutical company.
Pharmaceutical Marketing Manager
Salary: $107,412 per year
Responsibilities: Pharmaceutical or biomedical marketing managers oversee the strategies and messaging of drugs and other medical devices within the marketplace. This might include working on branding, advertising campaigns, or other lead generation practices. These individuals often act as the liaison between the marketing director and all other marketing representatives on staff.
Take the Next Step
For professionals hoping to land one of these specialized careers within the biomedical science field, a graduate degree is an effective next step. Consider your career goals, then start exploring the master’s and PhD programs in biomedical science offered at top universities like Northeastern.
“Our programs don’t educate with any particular outcome or career bias in mind, other than making sure you are as well-equipped as possible in your educational area of focus,” Janero says. “We just want to make sure our students are market-ready and competitive in their unique fields.”Ready to take the next step in advancing your biomedical science career?
Explore the master’s in biomedical science and PhD in biomedical science programs at Northeastern, and get in touch with an enrollment coach today for advice on which might be the best fit for your goals.