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Lisa McFadden
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Non-Traditional Career Paths in Biomedical Science

In addition to an academic career path, you may want to explore other science career opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry, biotechnology, or clinical diagnostics. Or perhaps you want to leave the bench altogether and are considering scientific writing, teaching, public policy or patent law. You may be able to move into an entry level job in some of these areas however, for most of these paths, you will have to complete a period of further training, with or without special certification, or acquire an additional degree before stepping directly into your first independent position.

The lifestyles vary for different career paths. The world of academics is mainly focused on hypothesis-driven research, which involves grant writing and manuscript publications. Once you obtain an academic position, a career in academics tends to be quite stable and offers flexible work hours, but the salary is not as competitive as other industries. On the contrary, a career in biotechnology or the pharmaceutical industry will offer more competitive salaries, but the focus may be more geared to product development. So, the environment is much more structured and can be quite unstable as companies change the focus of their biomedical activities, often very rapidly. In our economic climate, mergers have often occurred between pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies which may disrupt research programs and personnel. Therefore, it will be important for you to carefully examine your own interests and lifestyle and choose the career that works best for you.