5 Great Careers in Medicinal Chemistry


If you’re considering a career in medicinal chemistry, the first thing you should be contemplating is what your life will look like in that field. What exactly does a medicinal chemistry graduate do? Where would you work? What does your career field look like, both now and in the future? Read on to learn more about a career in medicinal chemistry.

What is a Medicinal Chemist?

Medicinal chemistry is the application of both biology and chemistry in the design of new drugs. This is achieved by applying knowledge of chemistry, biochemistry, and physiology to develop solutions for common or uncommon health related problems. Subject matter in the course of your medicinal chemistry education focuses on organic chemistry and synthesis development. Once you’ve learned how to contribute to the development of new drugs, what can you do for a living?

What You’ll Do

Medicinal chemist is just one job title that applies to the greater industry of medicinal chemistry and pharmaceuticals. Graduates with a medicinal chemistry degree can find work in a variety of fields, including but not limited to some of the following:

  • Patenting: Pharmaceutical companies and private- or public-sector patent agencies need medicinal chemists to help develop and patent new drugs.
  • Upscaling: Using process chemistry, you’ll develop effective, safe, and robust synthesis procedures for use in the high-volume production of new drugs and/or active drug substances.
  • Chemistry and Manufacturing control: Conduct small, specialized research with private enterprises to enhance quality control and development procedures in the pharmaceutical industry. This includes work in quality assurance and quality control.
  • Regulatory affairs: Pharmaceutical companies are required to document as they develop and produce drugs, and your knowledge of chemistry, biology, and synthesis puts you in a position to oversee production processes.

These are just some of the possible fields you could work in with a degree in medicinal chemistry, but these do not represent specific job titles. There are a variety of jobs available in these career fields.

Examples of Medicinal Chemistry Careers

The following are just a few of the more common job titles you’ll find available in the field after graduating from a medicinal chemistry program:

  • Pharmaceutical Chemist: Help design, develop, analyze, and evaluate new drugs, while improving the performance and effectiveness of existing drugs.
  • Analytical Chemist: Examine chemical compounds to determine their construction, gaining greater insight into their interactions with one another.
  • Research Chemist: Create and improve the processes used to develop products from cosmetics to drugs by examining the chemical compounds found in nature, as well as figuring out how they interact with other compounds.
  • Product Development Scientist: Apply your knowledge of various scientific fields to the creation of new drugs and medical technologies, while also enhancing existing products.

Enjoy the Growth in STEM Fields

Everyone wants job security when they enter the workforce, and the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) certainly deliver. STEM careers are growing faster than any other field in the American economy. As of 2010, 7.6 million people were employed in the STEM fields, and jobs are still being added at a projected 17% growth rate through the decade 2008 to 2018.

The American economy is changing, and jobs are at the heart of the rapid advancement of technology. A medicinal chemistry degree is the first stepping stone on the path to a successful career in one of the STEM fields.

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