How Do I Become a Drug Safety Associate?

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  • Written By: Kenneth W. Michael Wills
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 31 March 2020
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A drug safety associate is responsible for overseeing the safety of drugs during the research and manufacturing phases as well as once the drug goes on the market. To become a drug safety associate, potential candidates will need a relevant bachelor’s degree at minimum. Many employers will also ask for experience working in a drug safety capacity before considering a candidate for the job. While at least a bachelor’s degree is usually required, there are several paths to a position as a drug safety associate. Those paths include becoming a registered nurse (RN), completing a PharmD degree, or graduating with a life science or similar degree, along with meeting the employer’s requirements for experience.

Going to school to learn registered nursing is one option for candidates with career aspirations to become a drug safety associate. Upon graduation from a nursing degree program, such candidates will need to become licensed and practice as a registered nurse. While working as a registered nurse, prospective drug safety associates will need to apply for and work in a drug safety capacity to gain relevant experience. Usually, employers will require RNs to have several years of experience before considering them for such a position. Additionally, those who complete a bachelor’s degree in nursing usually have slightly better chances of securing a position if they meet the employer’s experience requirements.


Attending and graduating from a PharmD program will usually qualify a candidate to work as a drug safety associate. Candidates taking this route means completing a bachelor’s degree in any course of study, applying for and gaining acceptance into a PharmD program, and completing all graduation requirements. Employers often require candidates with a PharmD to have at least one year of experience in order to become a drug safety associate; however, most employers will accept required residencies or fellowships as experience. Therefore, a PharmD degree provides the most direct route to become a drug safety associate upon graduation.

Studying for a bachelor’s degree in life sciences, biological sciences or chemistry is another option, although employers sometimes look most favorably on a life science degree. Graduation with one of these degrees, however, does not automatically qualify a candidate for a position. Like those with RN qualifications, graduates will need to gain qualified experience with drug safety. Most employers will demand at least four years of experience and often prefer that experience in such industries as biotechnology, pharmaceuticals or clinical research. An advance degree in one of the disciplines is often preferred as well, though seldom required.


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