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The Best MBA Jobs in the Pharmaceutical Industry

 |  4 Min Read

As Baby Boomers age and older Americans make up a larger portion of the population, CDC findings show that an increasing percentage of Americans take prescription drugs. This higher demand means more business for pharmaceutical companies, which means a need for greater numbers of highly skilled, upper level pharmaceutical professionals.

With its complex nature, the industry has a variety of positions that require the analytical abilities, business acumen and problem solving skills that MBA graduates possess. Fortunately for these companies, high earning potential, a growing demand, and cutting edge pharmaceutical industry trends are attracting top graduates.

Whether they’re interested in the medical aspect of the business or they’re inspired to work on marketing a new life-changing drug, graduates are finding plenty of reasons to choose these MBA healthcare jobs. While there are numerous roles for highly qualified professionals, the following are the top MBA pharmaceutical jobs:

Senior Management

Pharmaceutical senior management roles are challenging and multi-faceted positions that require professionals to tackle high level strategy related to sales, regulatory issues, ethical questions and many other areas.

In recent years, the pharmaceuticals industry has paid close attention to the ethics of its practices. In fact, the industry recently decided that it’s unethical for sales reps to give away promotional items as advertisements for drugs. Those who have completed business administration healthcare management courses and take senior management positions will often be at the forefront of changes and discussions like these.

Due to the focus on ethics and company reputation, many MBA programs with healthcare management specializations offer courses that specifically explore these issues, which may include:

  • Fair pricing policies
  • Corporate transparency
  • Clinical trial access
  • Promotion and advertising practices

Product Research and Development

Positions in product research and development are often held by MBAs who have at least one other degree in science, whether it’s a B.S. or a Doctorate of Pharmacy. Some of these professionals have had work experience in the pharmaceutical industry before going on to earn the MBA that allowed them to advance to higher level positions.

MBA grads who work in research and development should have an interest in regulatory issues and a commitment to making sure drugs under development adhere to the wide array of federal and state regulations.

These professionals are responsible for putting measures and procedures in place to ensure the output of high quality products. Their efforts on the front end can improve customer safety, prevent highly costly product recalls and cut back on customer lawsuits.


Pharmaceutical companies, like any other organization, rely on marketing to build awareness of their brands and products. MBA graduates who work in marketing capacities need to be strategic, creative thinkers who can lead product launches, shape brand positioning and stay ahead of the evolving and sometimes controversial landscape of pharmaceutical advertising.

Employees in this field not only have to find creative marketing solutions that will appeal to both consumers and medical professionals, they need to have a good understanding of the often complex regulations that apply to drug advertisements. These MBA graduates must be up to the challenge of incorporating necessary technical information without having their messages and strategies lose effectiveness.

Project Management

Project managers are essential team members in nearly every industry, but in the pharmaceutical industry they have especially vital roles. These professionals need to understand the complex product-to-market paths and requirements that are specific to the pharmaceutical industry.

For example, pharmaceutical project managers may oversee and hone the scheduling of clinical trials, the FDA approval process, product launches and the numerous additional steps involved in taking a drug from its development stage all the way to its release and beyond. With changing regulations and unexpected testing setbacks, project managers must be able to anticipate problems and quickly adjust their strategies.

As they work to improve these processes and ensure that progress is being made, they must also ensure that the quality and safety of the drug is not sacrificed.

MBA students looking to work in any of these pharmaceutical areas should take advantage of internship programs with companies of interest. Several large pharmaceutical organizations – such as Eli Lilly and Company – provide internships that focus on preparing MBA students to work in these specific roles.

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