We caught up with Paula Kearney, head of our BSc in Process Technology programme, to gain an insight into what a career in the biopharma process technology sector involves.
Paula has over 27 years'’ experience within the pharmaceutical & biopharmaceutical industry having previously worked in MSD Swords, Ipsen Beaufour and Gerard Laboratories. Throughout her career, she has gained extensive experience in both drug substance and drug product manufacturing. She’s held senior laboratory roles in both the microbiology and analytical services field before progressing her career into Quality Systems and then to Learning and Development. She now designs and delivers bespoke training programmes for the industry and also lectures for Griffith College Dublin and TUD.
What do process technicians do?
A process technologists’ role in the biopharmaceutical industry encompasses many duties as they work at all stages of the manufacturing process. These can vary from upstream and downstream operations to working in controlled and aseptic environments such as cleanroom suites, isolators and restricted access barriers. In the medtech industry, a process technologists’ role is to produce a quality, compliant medical device product that meets the required ISO 13485 standard.
Why should I work in the industry?
Biologics manufacturing has grown in Ireland over the last 10 years and has accounted for over €10bn of investments. New Biologics companies have come to Ireland and many existing companies are diversifying their activities from "small molecule" chemical-based production towards "large molecule" biologics medicine. The biopharma sector In Ireland is set for further expansion, due in part to the significant R&D investment the sector has received in recent years. The continued investment and the key place that the biopharma and medtech industries have in the Irish economy will only lead to further growth and new jobs being created. The demand for talent has never been higher.
What are the career opportunities in the area?
There are endless career opportunities in this area in the biopharma and medtech industries. The availability of skills and talent is seen by the industry as a key pre-requisite for future competitiveness, investment and employment. All staff must have knowledge of contamination, sterile processing and cleanroom operations. “Soft” skills including communications, teamwork, problem-solving, and influencing skills are essential for all roles. Some career opportunities include; Production Operator/Technician, Maintenance Technician, Manufacturing Team Leader, Process Improvement Specialist, Quality Assurance/ Quality Control, Regulatory Compliance and Training Specialist.
Ireland’s top biopharmaceutical & medtech companies are always looking for people to fill process technician roles, for example, Pfizer, Vistakon, Johnson & Johnson and Boston Scientific, just to name a few, are all actively looking for process technicians.
What salary can I expect?
The average annual salary for a process technician in Ireland is between €30,000-€50,000.
How can I develop my skills for a role in the area?
Our Level 7 BSC in Process Technology offers the opportunity for current pharmaceutical professionals to upskill for the biopharmaceutical industry and also allows people from other sectors to transfer their skills into engineering and quality roles in this industry.
This blended (on-line and in-class) course has been designed to provide participants with a stimulating, positive and enjoyable environment along with the opportunity to broaden and enhance employment prospects. This degree will provide people with the skills necessary to pursue new career opportunities in Irelands growing biopharmaceutical and life sciences industry.
This course delivers on the specific skills required for both pharma and biologics manufacturing which includes aseptic and sterile manufacturing, cell culture, upstream and downstream processing, drug substance production, media and buffer preparation, good lab practice (GLP), molecular biology, protein characterisation and bio-organic chemistry. It also includes the soft skills required for the industry which are communications, teamworking, technical writing, problem-solving and lean operations.
What are the requirements?
To be able to apply to our BSc in Process Technology programme, applicants must have a QQI Level 6 Higher Certificate (120 Credits) in Science, Engineering, Quality or related discipline. Those with previous experience in the industry may apply through an APEL process.
You can find out more about up-skilling in process technology here.