Is Life Science Consulting the Career for You?

Life Science Consulting
Picture of Liz Kenny
Liz Kenny

Former McKinsey Consultant

Life science consulting is a hot industry niche. The life science industry is highly focused on improving patient outcomes and boosting life science firms’ profitability by leveraging new digital, analytics, and AI tools. These tools are game changers and it’s a bit of a scramble to see who can make the most of them. 

Learn more about this career path & the unique skills you need to land a job with a top life science consulting firm.

In this article, we’ll discuss:

  • What life science consulting is all about
  • Common life science consulting engagements
  • Top firms in the field
  • How to position yourself to land a job in life science consulting
  • 6 tips for recruiting with life science consulting firms
  • Exit opportunities after working in life science consulting

Let’s get started!

What Is Life Science Consulting All About?

Life science consulting is a broad term that includes strategy and operations work for medical providers, pharmaceutical companies, biotech firms, insurance providers, and other health organizations. 

It’s helpful to go through the elements of life science consulting in a bit more detail to understand how life science consulting work is different from general consulting. 

Life science (sometimes referred to as life sciences) is the scientific study of life forms on Earth. This includes humans, animals, plants, and things like bacteria and viruses. There are several specialties within life science, including genetics, marine biology, ecology, botany, and more.

Life scientists study how biology functions, what various environments are like for living entities, and what role our environments play in our lives. Life scientists also identify ways to improve lives or design solutions to prevent or cure illnesses. Life scientists may explore why certain species are thriving or declining in their environments, and what we can learn from those species to improve the world around us.

What Is Life Science Consulting All About?

Life science consulting accelerates and increases the impact of health and medical solutions to help humans live longer or better lives. These solutions include medicine, medical devices, or other solutions (e.g., physical therapy programs, rehab programs, etc.)

Typical life science consultant offerings include portfolio management, product lifecycle management, operations, and more. 

Life science consulting firms add value by helping clients launch products more quickly and more successfully. They help clients leverage industry best practices. 

Life science firms often start very small with a few scientists and big ideas. Their leaders often need commercial experts to bring new medicines, devices, and solutions to the market. 

Here are some of the ways life science consulting firms add value to life science organizations:

  • Establishing relationships with regulators and helping with regulatory approvals 
  • Outlining benchmarks for costs and pricing
  • Mapping customers/patient needs 
  • Understanding distribution systems, including how to navigate hospitals and educate doctors on new products
  • Evaluating the best commercial path for their research (e.g., product viability, whether to release a new drug as a pill or a shot, etc.)

Life science consultants support life sciences organizations on marketing, operational, and financial decisions so that scientists can stay focused on the world-changing scientific research they perform. 

Most life science consulting focuses on health initiatives for humans. Consulting firms also drive efforts to support climate-related work and animal health, but those areas are not currently the primary focus of life science consulting. 

You can read more about related fields, including: 

  • Healthcare consulting: generally focused more on operations, marketing, and valuation of the organizations rather than on the medical solutions themselves. Clients also include big pharma, hospitals, insurers, etc.  
  • Biotech consulting: focused on products derived from research centered on biology (vs. broader research including chemistry, environments, behavior, etc.) Clients include big pharma and small biotech firms focused on medicine, energy, or agriculture.

Nail the case & fit interview with strategies from former MBB Interviewers that have helped 89.6% of our clients pass the case interview.

Common Life Science Consulting Engagements

Here are a few examples of some of the kinds of cases you might work on in your life science consulting career:

Health Data Aggregation & Analysis

Your client is a hospital system that wants to design a more holistic approach to women’s health. Most clinical research thus far has been based on men. Your client’s first challenge is that they don’t have a comprehensive set of research or data to define the kinds of services and offerings they should develop so that women feel like they have partners on their health journeys from puberty through menopause. 

A life sciences consulting firm may aggregate the landscape of possible women-centric data and research sources, and design a plan for the hospital to integrate that data into their strategic planning and patient workflow.

Medical Product Shortage

Your client is a healthcare provider who recently encountered a shortfall in medication necessary for their patients. Your firm has been brought on to evaluate its path forward. This work would include evaluating current and potential suppliers of the product, as well as the availability of alternative treatments for patients. The team may also perform a diagnostic across all other medical product/device partners to ensure the organization is not at risk of another shortage.

AI Impact On Cancer Medicine

Your client develops and manufactures cancer-fighting medicines like chemotherapy. They’ve asked your firm to develop a strategy to update their operations to leverage AI. The team will identify and assess various AI vendors who offer services across the product lifecycle (R&D, clinical trials, commercialization, measuring outcomes, etc.). The firm may also help with vendor selection and how to incorporate those vendors into the client’s workflows.

Common Life Science Consulting Engagements And Occupations

New Product Pricing

Your client has developed an outstanding new drug that will help people quit caffeine without negative side effects like headaches, irritability, and low energy levels. This product could be incredibly popular among coffee and soda drinkers. Your client needs help defining a price point for the new product. The client is uncertain about whether to price the product as a luxury drug or to go for a mass-market play and make the drug affordable. 

Your firm can forecast the expected demand for the drug and the cost of manufacturing and marketing it based on sales volumes in each scenario. The firm can also outline the non-financial benefits and tradeoffs (e.g., reputation, societal impact, etc.)

Bonus: An Example Outside The Medical Field

Your client is responsible for an oil leak off the coast of Texas. They hire your firm to assess the damage and make recommendations so they can reduce the risk of this happening again. Your firm would likely partner with life scientists to build a full picture of the oil spill’s environmental impact and what needs to be done to address the damage. Based on the impact, your team could prioritize the actions required to repair the environment and the best way to go about it. 

Your team could also be asked to document the existing procedures to understand the root cause of the spill. Then, the team could outline changes that need to be made to avoid or reduce the impact of spills in the future.

Top Life Science Consulting Firms

Many consulting firms offer life science consulting services. Life science is an extremely ripe area for consulting firms. The industry is highly fragmented and requires specialized knowledge and operational support. 

In today’s environment, a great deal of life science consulting work centers on either biotech or how data + analytics can accelerate or improve patient outcomes. 

Here are a few of the larger players in life science consulting.


McKinsey has been a leader in healthcare consulting for a long time and has built a strong presence in the emerging life sciences space. The firm highlights several offerings for life science clients including MedTech (capabilities in digital analytics to enhance patient outcomes), Biotech, Digital and Healthtech, and standard product development offerings (R&D, commercialization, etc.)

While it is very rare that consultants share details of their client work, it is worth noting that McKinsey paid a very large settlement to U.S. state governments for its role in the opioid crisis. McKinsey has also revised its governance and risk policies and no longer performs work related to opioids. The firm will likely still be influential in healthcare and life sciences consulting. It’s important to be aware of this to avoid putting yourself in professional situations that may have a negative impact on health outcomes.


Accenture is one of the world’s top technology consulting firms, and they bring that expertise to life science consulting. The firm highlights the opportunity for technology, data and analytics, and AI to accelerate client impact. Accenture believes that technology can transform the entire approach to life sciences, from R&D through clinical testing and commercialization and distribution.

Find out more about Accenture in our Accenture Case Interview article.


ZS is a management consulting and technology firm with a significant background in healthcare and life sciences. The firm offers both consulting services and technology solutions (digital platforms, analytics tools, etc.) to support clients. In the life science space, ZS supports pharma, biotech, health plans, and medical technology clients. 

ZS is headquartered in Evanston, Illinois. The firm has over 35,000 professionals in 35 offices around the globe. Find out more about ZS Associates in our article on the ZS Associates Interview.

The Top Boutique Life Science Consulting Firms

Here are a few of the boutique firms involved in life science consulting.


Huron is a global professional services firm that serves clients in a broad set of industries, including the healthcare, life sciences, higher education, and commercial sectors. The firm offers consulting services as well as managed services. 

Huron is based in Chicago, Illinois, and has over 2,000 employees. The firm has a wide variety of life sciences and healthcare clients, including over 400 universities and research institutions, over 125 life sciences organizations, more than 450 health systems, hospitals, and academic medical centers, and hundreds of commercial businesses.

Trinity Life Sciences

Trinity Life Sciences serves both pharma and biotech firms and offers three core services: advisory services, insights & analytics, and technology. The firm offers commercialization and portfolio management consulting services and is also making a push into advising clients on generative AI. 

The firm is based in Waltham, Massachusetts, and has over a thousand employees.

Lifescience Dynamics

Lifescience Dynamics is a boutique consulting firm that offers market research (qualitative and quantitative), competitive intelligence (primary and secondary research), and market access, pricing and reimbursement services. The firm’s founding tools for clients focus on using digital tools to improve research and engagement among pharma stakeholders. 

The firm is based in London and Toronto, with 83 employees spanning offices in Boston, New York, San Francisco, and Vancouver.

Lifesci Consulting

Lifesci Consulting is a boutique firm offering strategy, operations, and transactions consulting. The firm is oriented toward identifying and establishing value as consultants help clients with business development, due diligence, investor and pharma engagement, as well as strategic planning. Lifesci Consulting also supports organizations with partnerships and M&A, business development, search & evaluation, commercial due diligence, and transaction advisory.

The firm is based in New York and has supported deals valued at more than $8 billion.

Clearview Healthcare Partners

Clearview is a boutique consulting firm specializing in life sciences strategy. It focuses on delivering insights in four core areas: pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical devices, and diagnostics. Clearview’s healthcare expertise includes pricing, market access, advanced analytics, and expert research solutions.

Over half of Clearview’s consultants hold a life sciences Ph.D. The company operates primarily in Boston, New York, and San Francisco.

Back Bay Life Science Advisors

Back Bay Life Science Advisors is the only life sciences firm offering both strategy consulting and investment banking services. It serves global clients in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical technology, and related industries. The firm collaborates with investors, banks, academia, and government to advance treatments in human care and works with companies of all sizes across the US and global life science markets.

Back Bay’s experienced strategy and banking teams guide companies on technology and drug development, from planning and initial concept to product commercialization, franchising and licensing, M&A, divestiture, and more.

The firm’s headquarters is in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, and it has offices in Toronto and Europe.

How to Position Yourself to Land a Job in Life Science Consulting

How to Position Yourself to Land a Job in Life Science Consulting

Life science is a broad field but most life science consulting work is focused on a few areas like portfolio management, operations, data & analytics, and product lifecycle. Across the spectrum of life science consulting firms, you’ll want to demonstrate some core skills:

  • Deep analytical capabilities: As a life science consultant, you’ll be working with a lot of data and you’ll have to be nimble with that data. The budgets of life science organizations involve massive amounts of money (think R&D, hospital operations, pharmaceutical sales, etc.) and leaders want to be sure they are spending their money to get the best return. Life science consultants bring strong analytical tools to help companies improve their financial performance.

  • Science background: Unlike generalist consulting, it helps to have some knowledge of the life sciences if you want to pursue a life sciences career. Science is a challenging subject that requires attention to detail and the ability to learn and follow very specific methodologies. Life science is not for everyone! 

    If you love science and enjoyed pre-chem or biology, then you’ll stand out among other applicants. If you’re still in school, be sure to include some science or hospital administration courses in your curriculum. Once you’re out of school, there are plenty of ways to learn more about the life science industry, including medical journals, conferences, and post-grad courses.
  • Ability to problem-solve complex issues: Life science consulting is more complex than general consulting. Organizations don’t just have to think about consumers and competitors. Multiple regulators are involved in every stage of product or service development and delivery. Distribution often involves three layers of customers: hospitals, doctors, and finally, patients.

    If you pursue a life science consulting career, you must be comfortable overseeing complex challenges and solving problems on many fronts.
5 Tips for Recruiting with Life Science Consulting Firms

5 Tips for Recruiting with Life Science Consulting Firms

1. Research the life sciences industry

Life sciences is a massive field. If you’re interested in working in this space, you should spend some time understanding the areas of specialization within it. Consider whether  you’re most interested in subjects like medical products or devices, data and analytics, hospital operations, or lab operations. You’ll come across as more dedicated to a life science consulting career if you can talk about a few areas that really interest you. Be sure to research each consulting firm’s specialties and highlight areas they focus on.

2. Demonstrate experience and interest in life science

If you have life science experience, you will stand out in interviews. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself explaining again and again why you want to pursue a career in life science consulting. 

You’ll also want to show you know about ongoing developments in the industry.  During life science consulting interviews, you will come across as a promising candidate if you are familiar with some of the players in life sciences and important industry trends (AI, digital analytics, etc.)

3. Demonstrate you are detail-oriented

Life science consulting requires teams to deliver 110% accuracy because people’s lives are on the line. You want your potential team to be confident that they can trust your work.

4. Establish and nurture your network

Look for opportunities to connect with people who work in life science. They are probably very passionate about their work and will hopefully inspire your passion! They also may point you to additional resources to learn about the industry.

5. Get ready for life sciences consulting interviews

Life science consulting case interviews are similar to traditional consulting case interviews, but they often focus on life science-specific cases and involve more complicated math. If you practice cases enough, you will find some good examples of life science and healthcare cases and better understand the kinds of problems you’ll need to solve. 

Check out Our Ultimate Guide to Case Interview Prep to get started or our Healthcare Consulting Case Interview for a relevant case example.

Exit Opportunities After Working in Life Science Consulting

Exit Opportunities After Working in Life Science Consulting

The life science industry is diverse and has tremendous growth potential. Investments in digital technology and analytics will unlock incredible opportunities to understand our health and our environment. 

Life science consultants should expect a long runway of career opportunities. After a few years as a life science consultant, you could join a life science organization (e.g., a pharma company, hospital system, insurance company), pursue a career in life science regulation, or pursue an advanced degree (e.g., PhD or MBA). You could also continue consulting with a larger or smaller firm or as an independent consultant.

– – – – –

In this article, we’ve covered:

  • What to know about life science consulting 
  • Sample cases for life science consultants
  • Top life science consulting firms
  • What to do to launch a life science consulting career
  • 6 best practices to get a role in life science consulting
  • Opportunities beyond life science consulting

Still have questions?

If you have more questions about the life science consulting, leave them in the comments below. One of My Consulting Offer’s recruiters will answer them.

Other people prepping for life science consulting found the following pages helpful:

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Nail the case & fit interview with strategies from former MBB Interviewers that have helped 89.6% of our clients pass the case interview.

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