Image: Erica Johnson

Life scientists looking for work can take heart in the fertile job market despite worldwide economic doldrums: Jobs exist in plenty and should remain abundant for some time. Nevertheless, some market trends make it trickier now to snag a high-paying position than in recent years. Venture capitalists reluctant to risk investments in biotechnology have pressured small and midsize companies to reduce expenses and bring products to market more quickly. Also, mergers and consolidations among the larger biotech and pharmaceutical companies have changed the ratio of administrators to workers. On the plus side, emerging fields such as systems biology and pharmacogenomics now offer new opportunities.

The outlook in Europe is comparable to that in the United States, with smaller companies seeking to conserve cash. "There is an air of caution," says Peter Nicholls, chair of the personnel advisory group for the BioIndustry Association in London. "It has...

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