How to Become a Pharmaceutical Engineer

Pharmaceutical Engineer Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $80,370
Avg. Pay / hour $38.64
Education 4+ Years
Job Outlook 6%

Pharmaceutical Engineers are professionals who focus in a specialization within biomedical engineering.

Their work is focused on the study, the development and the testing of new drug treatments and medicines.

Their work is instrumental in making progress in medical advancements.

Individuals who want to become a Pharmaceutical Engineer will need a combination of personal characteristics and a college education in order to enter this profession.

Some helpful skills that can help individuals enter this profession include having strong mathematical skills, being detail oriented and being analytical.

Education Requirements to Become a Pharmaceutical Engineer

Individuals who want to become a Pharmaceutical Engineer will need to complete a bachelor’s degree as a minimum requirement.

In addition, individuals may also work on attaining a graduate master’s degree for better job opportunities.

Individuals with a master’s degree have better job prospects compared to those with solely a bachelor’s.

Engineering is a trade that requires individuals to have strong mathematical skills.

Individuals who know they want to enter this profession as a high school student will need to focus on classes in mathematics and science courses such as chemistry, biology and physics.

This will help individuals gain the foundations of math that is used extensively in the engineering professions.

Once enrolled in an undergraduate program, individuals who want to become a Pharmaceutical Engineer will need to focus their degree in engineering or biomedical engineering.

A degree in biomedical engineering includes a curriculum that focuses on engineering and biological sciences.

Many courses are focused in a laboratory or classroom setting in which students will learn a variety of topics including: biomaterials, circuit design, computer programming and fluid and solid mechanics.

Individuals who do not study biomechanics as an undergraduate still have prospects in seeking a position as a Pharmaceutical Engineer.

They are highly recommended to take classes in the biological sciences or gain on the job training in biomedical engineering.

In addition, these individuals have the opportunity to complete a master’s program in biomedical engineering and attain a degree in this specialty.

Individuals who wish to pursue a researching career in pharmaceutical engineering are required to hold a master’s degree in this area.

Pharmaceutical Engineer Job Description

Pharmaceutical Engineers use their knowledge in biology and engineering to study, develop and test a variety of drug treatments or medications.

These professionals may also specialize in a particular area in pharmaceutical engineering including design quality, product delivery or regulatory requirements; areas that are most common in larger organizations.

Exact job duties will depend on the industry an individual works in; individuals can work for a variety of industries including universities, laboratories or pharmaceutical companies.

Pharmaceutical Engineers can be involved in the development of new drugs and treatments.

They may focus on the study and development of new treatments or assist in the creation of new regulations for the safe use of pharmaceutical drugs.

Individuals focusing on regulation will assist in the development of governing guidelines for medicinal use.

Individuals who focus on the development of new treatments and medicines will use chemical and biological materials to create prototypes or trial samples.

They will test trial samples to determine their effectiveness then strategize ways to improve the treatment or medicine.

Pharmaceutical Engineer Salary and Career Path

During 2012, the median salary for Engineers working in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing was approximately $87,340 per year.

Exact wages will depend on a variety of factors including years of experience; some biomedical engineers earn up towards $139,450 per year.

Many individuals working in this profession have a full time schedule which sometimes fluctuates to longer hours if there are deadlines to meet.

The job outlook for Biomedical Engineers is expected to increase at a fast paced through the year 2022.

Job growth is expected to increase by 27 percent adding 5,200 new jobs through the next decade.

This growth is attributed to the demand coming from physicians and patients aware of the technological advances in medicine.

Pharmaceutical Engineers are professionals who specialize in the biomedical sciences to plan, test and create new forms of medicine, technology, equipment or treatments.

Not only is this a challenging career for those who want to be at the forefront of medical advancements, but this is also one of the highest paid jobs and careers when compared to other engineering professions.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$89,530
New Jersey$110,700
New Mexico$134,120
New York$106,690
North Carolina$92,240
South Carolina$99,980

The top earning state in the field is New Mexico, where the average salary is $134,120.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

New Mexico - $134,120
Arizona - $120,970
Minnesota - $119,250
Connecticut - $116,430
Massachusetts - $115,670
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Bioengineers and Biomedical Engineers, OCC Code 17-2031, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a pharmaceutical engineer?

Pharmaceutical engineers are engineers who work in the medication manufacturing field.

They are usually employed by pharmaceutical companies, universities or laboratories.

Their work consists mostly of designing and producing medication and pharmaceutical therapies but they can also be involved in the product packaging, distribution, and labeling part.

Many pharmaceutical engineers search to find new and improved ways of manufacturing pharmaceuticals.

They also establish safety procedures for people who work with chemicals and ensure that work environments are compliant with safety regulations.

Most pharmaceutical engineers work full-time but in some cases, they may work more than 40 hours a week.

Along with scientific knowledge, engineers who work in the pharmaceutical field need a variety of skills, including analytical and mathematical skills.

In order to be able to explore new ways of manufacturing pharmaceutical products, engineers employed in this field also need creativity and ingenuity.

How much does a pharmaceutical engineer make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for engineers employed in the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing field was $100,800 in May 2018.

The exact salary of a pharmaceutical engineer depends on his or her level of experience, the local economy, and their employer.

Those who have a supervisory position may earn more.

How much does it cost to become a pharmaceutical engineer?

A pharmaceutical engineer needs a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, biochemistry, chemical engineering, or a related field.

The tuition costs vary depending on the school and the program you choose.

The average out-of-state cost for a four-year bachelor’s degree program is around $170,000, while the average out-of-state cost for a four-year bachelor’s degree program in biochemistry is around $200,000.

Some positions may also require a master’s degree or a Ph.D.

A master’s degree program can cost anywhere between $30,000-120,000, depending on the school and the program you choose.

What is the demand for pharmaceutical engineers?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for chemical engineers, in general, is expected to grow 6 percent from 2018 to 2028.

However, employment growth depends on the manufacturing field and the demand for the product.

The fast advances in innovation in biotechnology lead to the appearance of new pharmaceutical fields, which may lead to new jobs for pharmaceutical engineers.

How long does it take to become a pharmaceutical engineer?

Pharmaceutical engineers need a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, biochemistry or chemical engineering, which usually can be earned in around four years.

Some positions may also require a master’s degree or a Ph.D.

Getting your master’s degree can take around 2 years, while a Ph.D. program can be completed in approximately 3-5 years.

All in all, how long it will take until you complete your education depends on your determination and the exact position you are targeting.

A four-year bachelor’s degree program may be enough for entry-level employment in the field but some positions also required several years of additional training and experience.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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