While news on the job market is still grim, there are a few areas that are growing in spite of the down economy – some of which have more jobs than viable candidates to fill them.
One such sector is regulatory science, a field that has been growing steadily for the past several years.
Regulatory science includes:
- Regulatory affairs
- Regulatory writing
- Risk management
- Regulatory law
Regulatory scientists may work in any of these areas, evaluating potential products and trials, mediating among various parties, finding common ground, and gaining consensus.
According to the article All in the Details: Careers in Regulatory Science on the Science Careers website, “The field [of regulatory science] requires expertise from scientists in a variety of disciplines, including physicists, life scientists, chemists, and engineers. FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration], a natural home for regulatory scientists, offers employment in more than 30 distinct disciplines, including research science, pharmacy, statistics, veterinary medicine, nursing, and clinical medicine.”
“Regulatory science is an area that usually has more jobs than qualified candidates,” the author goes on to say. “Some areas are falling far short of filling jobs…global regulatory affairs (particularly positions that require Spanish or Japanese language skills), biomarkers, and diagnostic testing [are] areas that are especially strapped for applicants.”
Skills necessary to be successful in this field include:
- Project management
- Ability to learn from the experience of others
The Regulatory Affairs Professional Society (RAPS) website includes this list of skills and other relevant tips and information on entering the field. The RAPS 2010 Scope of Practice & Compensation Report for the Regulatory Profession is especially helpful, showing salary information by degree level, certification, type of employer, and more. For Ph.D.-level candidates, the salary for Associate positions start in the low $80K’s, while Manager-level positions move into the $120K range.
While there are jobs available, training is still required. There are graduate certificate and degree programs in regulatory science, as well as a certification process. Regulatory Affairs Certification (RAC) is a recognized credential sought by many employers.
Another point of entry to consider is a fellowship in regulatory affairs. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, for example, offers the Commissioner’s Fellowship Program, a 2-year fellowship that combines coursework with the development of a regulatory science research project.
Before investing time and potentially money into training for this career, meet with regulatory professionals and find out all you can about their work, their own career paths, and the ins and outs of the profession. RAPS has several local chapters , many of which have their own LinkedIn groups. Check out a group in your area, or email the chair directly to set up a coffee or lunch meeting, or even a phone call.
The more you know, the better prepared you will be to step into this exciting career!