Salary Survey

You already know the bad news: the job cuts haven’t stopped. Here’s the good news: for those still in the game, average salaries are up, marginally; job satisfaction is intact, largely; and industry execs suddenly seem to value corporate culture over the size of their paychecks. Just. James Chase reports 

For more than a decade, the pharma industry has swung a steady ax, shedding around 330,000 jobs since 2000. And although the volume of layoffs has halved so far in 2012—9,626 through August, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas—it’s far too early to paint a picture of upturning fortunes from what could be simply a downsizing intermission.

The news is not all bad. The 26th MM&M Career & Salary Survey reports average salaries are slightly outpacing inflation, up 2.8% to 132.6K and just below 2007’s high of 133.7K.

The online survey was emailed to more than 40,000 executives employed in pharmaceuticals, healthcare marketing and related fields, encompassing manufacturers, agencies, media companies and service suppliers/vendors, during August and September.

Of the 994 qualified respondents: 403 are employed by manufacturers (pharma, biotech, devices, diagnostics), 345 by agencies, 77 work in healthcare media and 88 for suppliers/vendors; 524 are male and 470 are female; and the average age is 43 years.

Counting the pieces

Manufacturers led the way with an average salary of 147.1K, up 2.5% over 2011, with Agencies closing in at 131.0K, up 7.4%. Both  sectors had showed salary reductions in 2011. Conversely, Suppliers/Vendors recorded a decrease this year of 14.1% to 117.3K.

Most encouraging is that the gender gap, which had widened inexcusably to more than 45K last year, closed to 16K, with men’s salaries down by 3.5% and women’s salaries up by 9.9%.

In terms of market sectors, Biotech products continued to lead the way at 142.7K (down 1.1%) but Rx Pharmaceuticals closed the gap at 139.7K (up 3.7%). Hospital Products (down 11.6%) and Dental Products (down 20.0%) were significantly down, while Managed Care posted a loss of 4.1%—surprising, given the widely acknowledged talent shortage in this function area.

Average salaries lined up neatly in order of company size, with the smallest companies registering 115.9K (down 5.5%) and the largest reaching 149.9K (up 3.8%).

In addition to salaries, 66.7% reported they received a bonus (up from 64.1%), with the average amount rising by 9.3% to 31.8K.  Other benefits received remained about the same, including medical coverage (received by 83.4%), dental (73.3%), retirement (54.3%), stock options (41.1%) and company car (12.7%).

Advancing positions

Job satisfaction remains high. Overall, 28.7% said they were “Thoroughly Satisfied” in their job (vs. 29.1% in 2011) with another 51.3% reporting that they were “Generally Satisfied” (vs. 53.0%). Encouragingly, just 6.4% said they were “Dissatisfied” (vs. 6.7% last year).

When adding together the “Thoroughly” and “Generally” numbers, Agency employees came out on top in terms of satisfaction (81.2%), followed by Manufacturers (79.1%), Media (76.7%). Note that while Suppliers recorded the lowest total satisfaction (70.5%) and the highest “Dissatisfaction” (9.1%), they also registered the highest proportion of “Thoroughly Satisfied” employees (33.0%).

Overall, 13.9% of respondents thought they made more than their peers (vs. 14.0% in 2011) while 44.9% felt they were paid less (vs. 44.1%). So not much change, there.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for perceived advancement prospects, with the overall index dropping from 2.6 to 2.4 (where 1 is “Poor” and 4 is “Excellent”). The proportion of respondents who thought their advancement prospects were “Excellent” dropped from 21.8% in 2011 to just 15.0%. However, much of this deficit seemed to be transferred to those who felt their prospects were “Good”, which rose from 31.1% to 36.0%. Those who perceived their advancement prospects to be “Poor” rose from 18.4% to 22.3%.

When the “Excellent” and “Good” responses are combined there are significant differences between types of employers. Consumer Media came out on top with a 70.0% prospect rating; conversely, HCP Media registered just 38.5%, with an additional 30.8% describing their advancement prospects as “Poor”.

Manufacturers didn’t fare a whole lot better, with just 44.4% perceiving their prospects as “Excellent” or “Good” (down 3.7% vs. 2011) and 26.8% describing them as “Poor” (up 34.9%).

What factors, then, did the respondents feel are most important to them in their jobs? In terms of average rankings (from 1 to 8), Salary (2.4) came out on top, as expected, followed closely by Work Environment/Culture (2.9), Job Security (3.9) and Benefits (4.2). Interestingly, Training scored a woeful 6.4.

However, by delving deeper, we see that in fact more respondents chose Work Environment/Culture (35%) as their number one consideration than chose Salary (31%)—a complete reversal of 2011, when 40% had ranked Salary, and 23% Environment/Culture, as number one. Not only that, 60% this year ranked Training as either their least or second-least important factor.

Winning moves

Each year, around 35% of respondents say they intend to seek a new position in the next 12 months and this year was no exception (34.6%). Of those, 28.8% said their prime motivation was for Better Salary and/or Benefits (down from. 32.1% last year) while 18.0% cited Better Work Environment/Culture (down from. 20.2%). Significantly, 5.7% wanted out simply because they Needed a Change (up from 2.1%) while 10.6% were looking to Move to a Different Part of the Industry (up from 7.4%).

And out of those looking to leap, the most likely methods of job-seeking, they reported, would be to use Existing Contacts (average rank 1.8, up from. 2.3 last year) or a Recruitment Agency (2.4, up from 2.6). Conversely, Checking Job Ads (3.4, down from 3.1) and Posting Resumes Online (4.0, down from 3.5) appear to be slipping further down the ranks of perceived usefulness.

On the pages that follow you will find data for selected job titles. You can access the full set of job titles, plus hundreds of additional insights and data, by downloading the free MM&M Career & Salary Survey Premium Edition at