RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — North Carolina’s biopharma manufacturing market is hot at the moment – with an estimated 5,000 new jobs projected for the sector by 2025, according to a recent study.

The average salary: $97,575 – more than twice that of the state’s overall private sector salary.

Could that be for you? Bioprocess Development Group (BPD) thinks so.

Next week, the group is hosting a symposium, “BioGrow: Training and Education Across North Carolina,” to get the word out about the training programs that exist for those interested in a career in biopharmaceuticals.

“Increasing the awareness of opportunities in this industry is a key priority,” said the North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s Life Science Economic Development Associate Director Katie Stember, Ph.D., who is helping to organize the event.

“Not only are people in North Carolina unaware that these great jobs are right in their backyard, there is a lack of awareness that these jobs are accessible to people without an advanced degree.”

In North Carolina, there are an estimated 80 biopharma sites with around 26,800 employees manufacturing an array of products, including small-molecule pharmaceuticals, monoclonal antibodies, industrial enzymes, vaccines, and cell- and gene-based therapies.

The industry is booming, added Stember, as evidenced by recent expansion announcements by biopharma companies like Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Merck, bluebird bio, Audentes, FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies and AveXis.

Students of ‘all educational levels’ invited

The BPD event is “one small piece of a many-pronged plan” to meet the needs of the industry, Stember noted.

Students of all ages and educational levels – from community college students to professionals looking to uptrain – are invited to attend the event to be held at NCBiotech on March 3 from 12:30 to 5 p.m.

Participating organizations include BTEC (at North Carolina State University), BRITE (at North Carolina Central University), BioNetwork, East Carolina University, BioWork Program, Campbell University, NCBiotech, Alamance Community College, Durham Technical Community College, Forsyth Technical Community College, Johnston Community College, Piedmont Community College and Wake Technical Community College.

“The symposium is a great event because it highlights a breadth of relevant training opportunities from short certificate programs like BioWork up through the undergraduate and graduate degrees offered at NC State via BTEC and at NC Central via BRITE,” Stember added.

The event will also include a panel discussion called “Faces of Success,” which will include former students from local educational programs sharing first-hand accounts of their career tracks in biopharma.

Among them is Dominique Wright, who works as a formulation technician II in Product Development Services at Thermo Fisher Scientific, working closely with scientists and clients to develop drugs that are headed toward stage-one clinical trials.

“To prepare for her current position, Dominique went through several courses and certificate programs at the Johnston County Workforce Development Center including BioWork, Advanced Bioprocess Technology, and Aseptic Training,” Stember noted. “These courses prepared her to take the cumulative state exam and become an NC state-certified process technician, which she absolutely loves.”

To register for the event, sign up here.

Study: Thousands of biopharma jobs coming to NC by 2024; average wage $97,575