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STEM Careers: Booming areas in Science

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It’s no secret that Ireland’s science sector is booming, employers across the country continue to demand employees with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) skills. There are many opportunities across Ireland to be a scientist in multiple disciplines, ranging from Medical and Pharmaceutical to Environmental and Life Sciences.

If you love to solve problems, can think independently and have good writing skills, science could be the sector for you. With it being Science Week, I’ve decided to have a look and see what areas and science skills are really in demand.

Technology transfer related skills

There is currently a huge emphasis on people with Technology transfer related skills. Employers are drawn to candidates who have experience with process, or product, development with a background in method development & validation.

With Technology transfer related skills you could be focused more on the science side, with the discipline of Analytical Chemistry (which is always in hot demand) or be more focused on the engineering side Process Engineer, Process Development Engineer, Tech Transfer Specialist/Engineer.

Recruitment specialist in Allergan, Alan Nolan, agrees and said that with the introduction of new products and sites these skills will always be in demand.


Microbiologists are in demand as the skillset is needed across a variety of disciplines and industries. For example, research where you could be employed in universities or institutes or hospitals. Pharmaceuticals or Medical Device where you would be working inside the lab, or outside the lab helping organise clinical trials to evaluate new drugs.

Using microbiology to work in the food and drink industry is also high in demand as microbes have been used for centuries to produce foods such as bread, cheese and yoghurt and alcoholic beverages like beer and wine. Cosmetics, agriculture & the environment are also areas where micro professionals are needed.

Tips for becoming a microbiologist

One of our Pharma clients in the midlands gave me some useful advice for any of you thinking of entering the microbiology industry.

“If you’re seeking a career in Microbiology, NUIG have 2 great course that covers the fundamentals (Higher Diploma in Applied Science (Microbiology) and a Bachelor of Science Degree). Courses in DCU are excellent too i.e. anywhere that offers a 6-month intra placement as otherwise it’s hard to get a sense of the requirements of the role when you start. When hiring manager’s see candidates with these courses on their CV they know they have practical and hands on experience.”

Clinical trial professionals

Advances in research and the growing needs of an aging population are pushing the need for new pharmaceutical products. In turn, this is creating a healthy demand for qualified professionals, able to translate clinical knowledge into practice to deliver and manage clinical trials.

The following are common jobs in clinical research for anyone starting their science career: Clinical Research Associate (CRA), Clinical Research Scientist, Clinical Research Coordinator and Clinical Project Manager (CPM).

QC lab professionals

A market research report from the Industry Standard Research (ISR) in 2016 reveals, only one-third of manufacturing — whether in the development stages or after commercial launch — is conducted in-house. Although this seems like a lot of manufacturing is outsourced, there is still huge volume here in Ireland.

If we take Pfizer, with their increased operations and new products it’s likely that there will be a demand for QC lab professionals according to Talent Acquisition Partner, Sinead Coffey. Those operating within QC chemist roles are also set to see an increase in growth and demand.

QA & QP roles

Attractive large manufacturing operations and innovative ‘virtual’ manufacturing techniques, draw large numbers of quality professionals (QPs) to Ireland’s life sciences sector.

However, when I recently spoke with a biopharma company based in Dublin, one of the areas they were finding a real challenge hiring in was contract and permanent QP’s – especially those who had sterile or aseptic experience.

If you have these skills or experience in set up and established full life science quality or compliance functions, or supported FDA audits, you’ll be in-demand.

Biotechnology specialists

Biopharmaceuticals (alteration of molecules, genes and cells to develop new medicines and therapies) with Early-stage drug discovery/drug delivery is becoming a high growth area.

Ireland has established itself as a place of global significance for the biopharmaceutical industry, winning huge international investment, with the top ten global biopharmaceutical companies already having an international base here.

The biopharmaceutical industry in Ireland generates a massive €66 billion per annum while it’s been reported that the industry has the potential to create 8,400 additional jobs by 2020. All of which will give Ireland a leading reputation as a hub for biotech.

If Biotechnology is of of interest keep an eye on BioPharma Ambition in 2018. The conference, which will be held on 21-22 February 2018, brings together globally renowned experts to discuss the latest research and developments for the industry.

Overall, Ireland’s Life Sciences sector has grown from very humble beginnings in the 1960s to reach global significance. Collaborative clusters in Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology, Medical Devices and Diagnostics have been a key element behind the remarkable growth of this sector which directly employs 25,000 people. An exciting time across the board for science in Ireland.

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