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Bioscience Careers

Process development scientist

  • Produced by the North Carolina Association for Biomedical Research (NCABR)
  • Funding generously provided by the Biogen Idec Foundation

Process development scientists research and develop ways to manufacture products and monitor existing processes and products for quality and efficiency. For example, a process development scientist might be responsible for developing a cell culture process for the manufacture of viruses or proteins that are used in the production of vaccines. Once a new product has been developed and approved for manufacture, a process development scientist finds out how to produce the product on a large scale with standardized protocols. In setting up and supervising initial and ongoing production, a process development scientist always is looking for ways to make improvements in methods and technology by reviewing and interpreting analytical test results and data.

Process development scientists often use sophisticated technology to monitor production and identify faults. They work closely with research scientists, with process engineers and with quality control technicians. Combining extensive knowledge of biotechnology and biomanufacturing, process development scientists also use computer-aided design models to develop manufacturing processes.

As a process development scientist, you must have an investigative and analytical mind and a methodical approach to testing new processes. You will need to be creative and have strong problem-solving skills as well. Good teamwork and motivation skills are essential, as is the ability to write and communicate effectively.

Career Opportunities

Process development scientists will find jobs available across the manufacturing industry, on products ranging from biopharmaceuticals to foods, fuels and cosmetics.


Process development scientists will need at least a four-year Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree. Advanced degrees such as a Master’s or a doctorate often are required as well. Degrees in chemistry or biology will provide solid foundations, while more targeted degrees might include biochemistry, biotechnology, genetics, microbiology, molecular biology and pharmaceutical science.


Process development scientists can expect to earn between $45,000 and $85,000 per year — and perhaps even more — depending on their level of education, number of years’ experience, type of industry and geographic location. The average starting salary is approximately $70,000 per year. Salary information is current as of June 2008.

Recommended High School Courses

(From Career Pathways: Focus on Biotechnology, 2006, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction)

Grade 9

English I; Algebra I or Integrated Math I; Earth Science/Environmental Science; World History; Health/Physical Education; Elective; Elective; CTE Elective

Grade 10

English II; Geometry or Integrated Math II; Biology; Civics & Economics; Second Language; Elective; Elective; CTE Elective

Grade 11

English III; Algebra II or Integrated Math III; Science Elective (Chemistry recommended); U.S. History; Second Language; Advanced Science or Mathematics Elective; Elective; CTE Elective

Grade 12

English IV; Higher-Level Math (Algebra II prerequisite); Science Elective (Physics or Principles of Technology I & II recommended); Elective; Elective (Second Language recommended); Advanced Science or Mathematics Elective; Elective; CTE Elective

NOTE: Science course sequences may vary by school. All students are encouraged to take any available higher-level mathematics and science courses, beginning in middle school. Courses in business, computers and communications are valuable to develop necessary career skills. Students pursuing a College Tech Prep course of study need four related Career Technical Education (CTE) credits. Ask your counselor for your school’s guidelines.