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Making the Leap to Contract Work in the Life Sciences

​You’ll find project-based work in abundance across the life sciences, naturally accompanied by an insatiable demand for contractors. High wages, flexibility, and clout (depending on the project) are all enticing factors, and when you combine this with the fallout from the great resignation, contract work becomes an end goal for many hopeful life science professionals.

From Engineering and CQV jobs to Research and Development, skilled contract work is out there, it’s just a matter of weighing up the pros and cons. If you’re hoping for a change of pace, it’s worth having a think about your options when it comes to contract work, particularly if you’re just beginning your journey in the industry.


Contractors typically enjoy higher wages than their full-time counterparts. In a bid to gain sporadic access to specialised talent, many organisations are willing to pay the premium.

Moreover, contract workers aren’t generally afforded the same benefits as permanent employees, be it pension contributions, healthcare subsidies, sick pay, etc., freeing up the budget to increase their day rates.

This is not without its setbacks – for some people, the benefits of a permanent position tend to represent much greater stability and security. That said, you might say that there’s no such thing as a job for life in the life sciences anymore, as highlighted by the recent waves of mass layoffs across the US.

Working with a recruiter can help you bypass job insecurity, as they should have a steady flow of contracts lined up for you in the future.

A Contract-Friendly Industry

The life sciences are home to many contract-friendly environments, especially in areas such as pharma and biotech, sectors that were built off the back of contractors. It’s a far cry from the hustler’s lifestyle, as you’ll often find that projects are well-networked.

As an increasingly globalised sector, life science organisations are generally equipped to support their contractor workers with international mobility, enabling you to diversify your existing skillset in settings all over the world. If it’s flexibility and variety you’re after, contract work could offer you the full package.

One potential hurdle is that you may not gain access to formalised learning and development opportunities in the same way that permanent members of staff would, so it’s worth taking some time to think about where you can enhance your skillset when learning on the job isn’t a viable option. Staying in the loop with the latest qualification requirements is a must, particularly in a space where regulations are always changing.


In light of the international aspect, many professionals decide to take the leap into contract work to broaden their horizons. Switching from project to project can offer some much-needed variety, granting you exposure to a much wider range of experiences.

The more variety, the more experience, and the more knowledge, the higher your premium (in theory anyway).

If you’re interested in working for yourself in an opportunity-rich climate, now is a great time to consider turning to contract work. Ask yourself these crucial questions:

  • Do I have the right level of specialised experience?

  • Am I prepared for the admin (taxes, visas, invoices, etc.)?

  • Will contract work fit my lifestyle (Contracting is more than just a career choice)?

  • Do I know where to look for opportunities?

At BioTalent, we can do more than help you answer these questions, we can find you a contract role that fits your unique needs. Our specialist life sciences consultants are equipped to connect incredible people with environments they can thrive in. Contact the team today to find out more about our community-led approach to recruitment.