Exploring Ireland’s pharmaceutical industry: A guide to the top companies and job opportunities

There are over 85 pharmaceutical companies operating out of Ireland

Share This Post

Ireland’s reputation for being a country of innovation and growth runs deep through the pharmaceutical industry. A hub for global pharmaceutical giants, Ireland is uniquely positioned to offer graduates and job seekers lucrative and fulfilling opportunities in the field. 

Alongside the food and chemical industries, pharmaceuticals accounted for 67.4% of all production in Ireland for 2022. In fact, nine out of ten of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies have a base in Ireland, leading to plenty of exciting opportunities across research, sales, manufacturing, and more.

Why is Ireland a major player in the pharmaceutical industry? 

Ireland attracts top companies from the pharmaceutical industry as a strategic European base of operations. Businesses can enjoy access to a well-educated workforce with an English-speaking population, a world-class research and development ecosystem supported by partnerships with leading universities and top industry players, and a favourable tax system which allows for deeper investments.

Trading from Ireland also allows streamlined access to the European Union, the world’s largest trading bloc. The country’s favourable corporate tax rates and pro-business regulatory environment further incentivise international pharmaceutical giants to set up their manufacturing and R&D hubs in the region. 

Benefits of working in the pharmaceutical industry in Ireland

Working in Ireland’s pharmaceutical sector brings many benefits that professionals working in the industry enjoy. The opportunities are vast, from engaging in cutting-edge research and development projects to collaborating with some of the brightest minds globally. Here are some of the benefits job seekers can look forward to:

  1. High levels of investment: Ireland’s welcoming business environment has attracted vast investments from major pharma companies worldwide, including top firms like Japan’s Astellas. Such financial backing ensures the country’s pharmaceutical infrastructure is state-of-the-art, with continuous upgrades and expansions.  
  2. Range of opportunities: According to IDA Ireland, Ireland is home to more than 85 biopharma companies that employ 30,000 people. This expansive ecosystem spans research and development, manufacturing, quality assurance, and regulatory roles. Job seekers can find positions that match their qualifications and interests, whether they are fresh graduates looking for entry-level roles or seasoned professionals seeking leadership positions. 
  3. Competitive salaries: The pharmaceutical industry has a reputation for providing some of Ireland’s most attractive compensation packages. Given the specialised skills and expertise required in the sector, companies are willing to offer lucrative salaries to attract and retain the best talent. 
  4. Job security: As one of the leading industries in the country, securing a job in the pharmaceutical industry often means enjoying a higher degree of job stability. 

Major pharmaceutical companies in Ireland

With over 85 pharmaceutical companies operating out of Ireland, opportunities are abundant for professionals ranging from research and development to marketing and sales. Recruit Ireland features job posts from all leading pharma companies, ensuring job seekers can access the latest and most rewarding positions. 

Here are some of the top pharmaceutical companies in Dublin, Cork, Galway, and more hiring job seekers in Ireland:

List of top pharmaceutical companies in Ireland


Pfizer has been active in Ireland for over 50 years, hiring in science, technology, finance, and engineering disciplines. The company has manufacturing plants in Dublin, Cork, Newbridge, Kildare, Grange Castle, and Ringsakiddy. Dublin’s Ringsend and City West areas are also home to Pfizer’s financial, operational, and commercial departments.

Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson may be a household name for its range of retail products, but in Ireland, it’s become known for its positions in technology and manufacturing. Located in the south of the country, Johnson & Johnson has locations in Cork and Limerick. The company hires for various disciplines, including science, compliance, and finance.

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BSM)

Bristol Myers Squibb has been active in Ireland since 1964 and employs over 650 people in Cruiserath and Dublin. The company has positions in departments like manufacturing and operations, engineering, quality, and environmental health and safety. 


Aerogen is an Irish company based in Galway developing inhaled drugs for acute and critical care. Aerogen hires engineering, quality assurance, mechanics, and commercial professionals at its Galway headquarters. 

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)

GlaxoSmithKline has been operating in Ireland for nearly 100 with its headquarters in Dublin leading its commercial business. GSK hires for its sales and marketing, market access, and medical teams and the company has separate locations in Cork for its operation support roles and laboratory functions.

Job opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry in Ireland 

Working for the pharmaceutical industry is not limited to research and development; it encompasses many fields. Below is a selection of opportunities for job seekers:

Research Scientist

Research scientists are the people involved in creating and conducting experiments and studies to increase scientific knowledge. Their work often results in the development of new drugs or the improvement of existing ones.

A bachelor’s or master’s degree in a related field is required, along with proficiency in laboratory techniques, data analysis, and an understanding of scientific methodologies. Obtaining a PhD can lead to senior research roles or niche specialisations.

Quality Control Analyst

Quality control analysts ensure pharmaceutical products meet set quality and safety standards and pass regulatory control. They test product samples and measure them against regulatory benchmarks.

A bachelor’s degree in chemistry or a related field is typically expected of quality control analysts alongside experience in laboratory testing equipment and methodologies. Advancing in this career usually requires a number of years of experience in the field.

Regulatory Affairs Specialist

Regulatory Affairs Specialists are responsible for ensuring that the company’s products comply with all regulations and laws in the pharmaceutical industry. They prepare, submit, oversee regulatory documents and keep updated with changing regulatory guidelines.

A degree in science, pharmacy, or law combined with a deep understanding of regulatory standards is often a prerequisite to starting a career in Regulatory Affairs. Alternatively, applicants can gain a certificate in Regulatory Affairs and Quality. With experience and further training, regulatory affairs specialists can progress to senior or managerial roles within the regulatory affairs department. Some may also transition to related roles in quality assurance or pharmacovigilance.

Sales & Marketing Representative

Sales & marketing representatives promote and sell pharmaceutical products to healthcare professionals. They explain the benefits and often provide samples. They also gather feedback and market intelligence.

A degree in business or marketing or related experience is typically required for these roles. Applicants should also be able to display strong interpersonal skills and an understanding of the products they promote. Advancing in this career usually leads to pharmaceutical sales management or marketing strategy positions.

Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Technician

Manufacturing technicians are involved in the production of pharmaceutical products. They operate equipment, monitor production processes, and ensure the final product meets set standards.

Roles may require a relevant diploma or degree or previous experience in manufacturing equipment and understanding production standards. Experienced manufacturing technicians can progress to supervisory roles, overseeing specific production process sections. With further training, they might transition to quality assurance or process development roles.

Apprentice and Graduate Programmes

Apprentice and graduate programmes offer an excellent entry point for newcomers looking for a career in Ireland’s pharmaceutical sector. These initiatives, rooted in Ireland’s commitment to nurturing talent, provide hands-on training and exposure to the industry. 

Apprenticeships combine practical experience with classroom learning, while graduate programmes introduce recent university graduates to roles within leading pharmaceutical companies. Both paths lay a strong foundation for a promising career in the pharmaceutical realm.

How to find a job in the pharmaceutical industry in Ireland

Ireland’s pharmaceutical industry attracts many potential candidates, making it a competitive field to break into, but with the right strategy, your applications can have a higher success rate. Here’s a guide to give you a competitive edge:

  • Recruit Ireland: As one of the top recruitment platforms in Ireland, Recruit Ireland offers a comprehensive database of job listings in the pharmaceutical sector. But beyond job listings, our platform provides insights into the companies and the roles they offer, and our advice centre can help prepare applicants for their job hunt.
  • Network: Attend industry-specific seminars, webinars, and workshops, whether in person or remotely. Engaging with professionals already in the field can provide insights, advice, and potential job leads. 
  • Tailor your CV: Every role within the industry, be it in research, development, sales, or manufacturing, has its unique set of responsibilities. Customise your CV to highlight relevant experience, skills, and certifications that align with the specific role you’re targeting. 

In our interview with Julie Farrelly of the SEAI, she highlighted the importance of always staying up-to-date with developments in your industry:

“You need to be the expert in your area but also have a good understanding of our wider support and services. You need to be willing to keep learning and growing.”

No matter what stage of your career, committing to continuous learning and growth will always help you stand out from the crowd.

Find jobs in the pharmaceutical industry with Recruit Ireland

Whether at the start of an exciting career in the pharmaceutical industry or you are an experienced professional, the key to landing your dream role lies in the right approach and resources. 

Recruit Ireland recognises the challenges those eager to dive into this sector face. But with a vast database of companies, insightful advice, and a long list of job listings, your next big career move is just a few clicks away. Start your job search with Recruit Ireland today and shape your future in the pharmaceutical industry.


Related articles


Leading healthcare company continues to hire and grow

“MSD was already creative when pitching ourselves as a great company to work for, and now this crisis has challenged us to be even more innovative”- Maria Cullen, Talent Acquisition lead at MSD Ireland


Discover your perfect job

Looking to take the next step in your career?
Kickstart your search with indepth profiles and 

handy career advice and find your 

perfect match today.


10 Minutes With…

Find jobs in your area

Copyright © 2022. Developed & Designed by Square1.