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The industry in the UK employs around 67,000 people, including 25,000 in research and development. In addition, the industry generates thousands more jobs in related industries.
These people often have degrees in biological subjects or in chemistry, maths, engineering or other subjects. Some work in research and development laboratories, or work with data generated from the many studies each new medicine, others work in manufacturing on the commercial side, for example in sales and marketing.
However some companies do take people on with A levels (or equivalent) and even, sometimes, with good GCSEs. Training is provided through an apprenticeship leading on to an HND or Foundation Degree. Some people then study for an Honours Degree part time whilst continuing to work for the pharmaceutical company.
ABPI has a section within the ABPI Corporate website with masses of information on careers in the pharmaceutical industry - https://www.abpi.org.uk/careers.
You can a good idea of the type of people who work in the industry, and the jobs they do, through the large number of case studies on the site - including students who are doing a work placement as part of their degree, people who got a job as a result of doing a placement, and those who have worked in several different areas during their career.
If you want to know more about the areas people work in - research and development, commercial, manufacturing or other roles check out the section on Working in the industry, and if you are actually looking for work experience or a job, you can access websites of companies in your area through the Pharmaceutical recruiters page.
Getting a job, or even a work experience placement in a pharmaceutical company can be highly competitive - so you need to sell yourself through a top-quality CV or application form. Visit the careers section within the ABPI Corporate website to learn more about the pharmaceutical industry and the kind of professional careers it offers.