How To Get Into The Drug Safety Field

Drug safety, or pharmacovigilance, is an ever-growing field in the modern day. There are many requirements to getting such a job, as they are highly sought out, and there are even more facets of work within the field. But first things first; what kind of education and experiences do you need to get a career in drug safety?

Education and Experiences

If you’re considering drug safety as the field for your career, you’ll want to have some skill in science; medical is preferred, but really any scientific experience will help beef up your resume. Working as a lab assistant and data entry positions will show possible employers that you have the know-how to handle the basics of drug safety, and they can train you from there! But what about education?

Most people that go on to work in drug safety begin with careers with Bachelors degrees in pharmaceuticals, although virtually any medical science degree is likely to get your foot in the door. That said, more education never hurts, and a Masters degree is even better! From there, the entry point to the world of drug safety is a case processing position.

Case processing is essentially glorified data entry. You will be entering information from patients about the side effects of drugs into a larger database, which will then be evaluated by a risk management team. It isn’t the most glamorous work, but if you can stick with it, there is a lot of room for upward mobility! While there is a lot of room to grow, the path that you’ll take up the ladder is typically one of two.

Career Options

The first path is the line management path. This includes things like senior drug safety officer, manager and director. They are fairly straightforward and focus more heavily on the day-to-day operations of the facility. If you can show the organization a great work history as a case processor, it won’t be hard to climb the ranks this way!

The second path is the more technical one, and is a bit trickier. Careers with this path are typically things like risk management, epidemiology and signal detection positions. In general, these jobs will require more scientific and marketing understanding than the first option.

Risk management is a senior position in drug safety where people focus on the health risks of pharmaceutical drugs, which are identified by the case processors that you learned about earlier. This involves things like producing reports on the risks of different medications, so the more science you have under your belt, the better!

Signal detection positions will require you to have a much more extensive knowledge of the science behind the drugs, as well as how to identify market trends. It is a big responsibility and a lot to learn, but most organizations will happily teach you what you’ll need to know. If not, you can always contact The Pharmaceutical Information and Pharmacovigilance Association (PIPA), which is available to give lessons to those seeking career progression.


Drug safety is like a lot of scientific fields, which means that the more experience that you have going in, the faster you’ll be able to progress. If you come to a company with a Masters in pharmaceuticals or a medical science degree, you’ll likely see much faster progression than someone that only came in with a college general education laboratory requirement. On the whole, drug safety is a fairly straightforward field to get into, provided you have the right experiences and education!

Founded by Mark Sadaka in 2008, Pharma WatchDog is based in New York and New Jersey. Mr. Sadaka’s educational background and legal expertise in complex litigation, from consumer protection, medical device and pharmaceutical litigation to product liability and toxic tort, has made Mr. Sadaka a nationally recognized trial lawyer and trusted counsel for nearly a decade.

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