BioSpace describes itself as “the leading online community for industry news and careers for life science professionals…[providing] quality recruitment and job seeking opportunities for professionals in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. The site offers “a multi-faceted venue for industry professionals with an online job board, daily biotech news feeds, and community features connect recruiters, job seekers, and life science professionals.”
And last month they published a “Life Sciences Employment Outlook” study report. The outlook is mixed with a slightly positive slant. While jobs have not rebounded to the levels seen before the 2007 recession, the sector has added jobs, albeit slowly (like the rest of the economy). But it is a very competitive environment. Job applicants are more likely to have bachelor’s degrees, but there has been a 4.6% uptick in applicants with doctoral degrees. PhDs and MDs now represent 34% of the applicant pool. A larger number of applicants, 43.6%, report 10 or more years of industry experience. Job hires in administration and sales are up, while those in process, manufacturing and production are down. The manufacturing downturn reflects the off shoring of production to India, China and other overseas locales with fewer regulatory constraints, lower taxes and cheaper labor.
Job growth occurred in biotech, institutional research, supplier/support services, and in non profit agencies. Job numbers shrank within diagnostics and pharma. Despite the improvements, the unemployment rate for life sciences nationally stands at 15.2% (down from 18.6% in 2010).
The following titles are showing up more often in job offerings:
● Clinical research associate
● Clinical lab scientist
● Director of regulatory affairs
● Regulatory general counsel
● Research assistant
Jobs listings dropped in manufacturing, marketing, project manager, senior scientist and principle scientist (perhaps reflecting the downturn in basic bench research).
The number of applicants for any position can vary widely. For junior scientist, an entry level position, there have been more than 300 persons applying for each post. For postings for “regulatory affairs specialist or coordinator,” less than 5 applications were submitted. The report enumerates the most competitive and least competitive job titles.
The geographic regions with the top number of hires were California’s BioTechBay and BioTech Beach (San Francisco and San Diego), Massachusetts (Beantown=Genetown), and the NJ/NY pharma corridor, which runs from Connecticut down to Philadelphia, with 36.8%, 16% and 8.6% of hires respectively. The implication is that if you don’t live in these places, and want to work in the life sciences, move.
The jobs follow the money. Biotech investment is heavily concentrated in the Bay Area and in San Diego, with $2 billion in capital coming into California in the first three quarters of 2012. Massachusetts has the distinction of being one of the few states that offer research grant incentives to companies that relocate. And traditional pharma still resides in New York and New Jersey.
Average life science salaries are not at levels seen in 2007-2008, but are up in the past year. The low average salary was $66.4K in 2010, with a nice rebound to $70.8K in 2012. This is remarkable given the wage stagnation in other sectors of the economy.
There is no sugar coating. Job growth is slow. But the pill is not completely bitter. Expansion will continue and job growth will continue as the economy recovers. The job “joy” goes to people with advanced degrees and prior experience. Newly minted grads may find some continued challenges. Stay tuned…more news to follow. And do take a look at the full report @ http://www.biospace.com/pdf/2013BioSpaceAnnualReport.pdf