Education's Role in Life Sciences Growing Substantially


Recently, Aerotek's Director of Life Sciences and Health, Michele Cook, was interviewed and featured by Chemical and Engineering News concerning hiring trends in the chemistry industry.

There's no question education is becoming more important than ever in chemical positions, a trend that began to pick up in 2009 when the average level of education in most positions throughout the sector became a Bachelor's Degree.

Increased educational expectations for positions like chemical technicians began to shift in 2009, from high school degrees to Bachelor's degrees. The main catalyst for this was an increased demand for flexible skills, as these companies wanted to have better odds of promoting employees into different areas of their organizations.

The ultimate goal was for a company to have a workforce with a wider set of skills and a more promotable staff with a cohesive and visible level of value.

Experience, training increasing

Life sciences and health organizations increasingly prefer seeing technician candidates with training and experience, as while analysts are most likely to hold entry-level positions, technicians are now expected to have at least two years of experience. An increasing percentage of graduates are now being hired in contingent labor partnerships as well. There, they work with contract employment agencies for placements in well-known companies.

A wide variety of companies are now hiring in life sciences and health, in both the public and private sectors. These organizations specialize in a variety of areas, including generics, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical devices, testing laboratories, food and beverage and chemical and allied products. Competition is fierce for the best talent, and many job seekers will find that partnerships with organizations and educational locations will help them greatly. Meeting and networking with current employees in the field and securing referrals also remains a successful strategy to get a foot in the door.

Three factors influencing the market

• As the economy continues to improve, manufacturers are ramping up production, and as such they're needing more experienced technicians.
• The industry's workforce is beginning to retire, which is increasing the number of opportunities in the market. However, as the departing employees are experienced and educated, the only way to replace them and retain their quality levels is to find degreed candidates.
• Companies are finding new value in hiring candidates with at least a Bachelor's degree to improve the development pipeline throughout the organization.

Demand for chemical technicians and engineers, especially those that have strong education backgrounds, is quickly expanding and companies now look to hire new graduates directly out of well-known chemical engineering schools. As a result, the salary for these positions has become the highest-paying out of any life science or chemistry role.

This demand will only continue to rise in the future with more employees retiring. As such, any prospective employee with the right qualifications in the field will be in a strong position to succeed in the job market.