Salary Survey 2013

Although job-cut announcements have become a part of daily life in the industry, average salaries have risen to an all-time high. Not only that, job satisfaction is up in pharma. However, this doesn’t seem to prevent more people than ever looking to move, finds James Chase

There’s no getting around the fact that that pharmaceutical industry is continuing to reduce its workforce, but those remaining in the industry—especially the male employees—seem to be having a better time of it this year, according to the 27th annual MM&M Career & Salary Survey.

Benchmark reports by Challenger Gray & Christmas state that pharma cut 8,793 positions from January through August this year, barely fewer than the 9,626 laid off during the same period last year. However, our survey shows that for those still in the game average salaries are up this year by 8.3% to an all-time high of $143.6K (Fig. 1), including a 9.0% increase in the pharma sector alone. This beats the previous best of $133.7K recorded in 2007.

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 1,009 qualified respondents 385 are employed by manufacturers (pharma, biotech, devices, diagnostics), 318 by agencies, 78 work in healthcare media and 137 are suppliers/vendors; 523 are male and 485 are female; the average age is 43 years; the average time spent in the industry is 15.3 years; and the average time spent in their current position is 4.4 years.

The strongest contestants

Manufacturers continued to lead the way with an average salary of $160.3K, up 9.0% over 2012, with Agencies closing in at 146.2K, up 11.6% (Fig. 2). Conversely, Suppliers/Vendors suffered another double-digit decrease, down 12.0% down to $103.2K, on the back of last year’s 14.1% drop. In the Media stable, interestingly, both HCP-only and Consumer-only media companies recorded double-digit increases. However, companies targeting both HCPs and Consumers posted an average salary loss of almost 6%.

On the face of it, the gender gap appears to have widened inexcusably, with Male average salaries up by 13.1% to $166.4K and Female average salaries down 9.0% to $119.2K (Fig. 3). One explanation for such a glaring disparity is that the number of CEO respondents has risen from 11 in 2012 to 28 this year, and that almost 90% of these are male. What’s more, the average salary posted by this year’s crop of CEOs, $352.9K, is 58.3% larger than in 2012. So while it may not necessarily be true that the gender gap is widening in terms of pay, it is certainly the case that the most senior, better-paid positions continue to be male-dominated.

The only sizes of company that posted a reduction in average salary this year were those with revenues of $5M to $20M, down 2.0% to $121.0K (Fig. 5). Aside from that, generally it was still the largest companies paying the highest salaries, with companies with revenues greater than $100M posting average salaries of $161.5K, up 7.7% over 2012. (See Fig. 4 for Average salary by market sector.)

Further to salaries, 65.9% reported they received a bonus (down slightly from 66.7% last year), with the average sum received rising slightly from $31.8K to $32.3K. Other benefits received were largely comparable to levels in 2012, including medical coverage (received by 82.1% this year vs. 83.4% last year), dental (74.9% vs. 73.3%), retirement (51.6% vs. 54.3%), stock options (39.4% vs. 41.1%) and company car (10.9% vs. 12.7%).

Enjoying the show

Job satisfaction remains reasonably high. Overall, 25.8% said they were “Thoroughly Satisfied” in their job (down slightly from 28.7% in 2012) with another 55.0% reporting that they were “Generally Satisfied” (vs. 51.3% in 2012). Only 6.0% of respondents reported that they were “Dissatisfied” in their jobs, down slightly from 6.7% in 2012 and 6.7% the previous year.

When adding together the “Thoroughly” and “Generally” numbers, Manufacturer employees came out on top in terms of satisfaction (84.8% vs. 79.1% in 2012), followed by Agencies (80.9% vs. 81.2%), and Suppliers (76.7% vs. 70.5%). Note that while Media – HCPs recorded the lowest total satisfaction (70.5%) and the highest “Dissatisfaction” (10.5%), they also registered the highest proportion of “Thoroughly Satisfied” employees (34.2%).

Despite the overall increases in average salary, respondents’ perceived levels of relative pay dropped slightly: Just 11.4% thought they made more than their peers (vs. 13.9% in 2012 and 14.0% in 2011) while 47.1% felt they were paid less than their peers (vs. 44.9% in 2012 and 44.1% in 2011).

When it comes to perceived advancement prospects, with the overall index remained at 2.4 (where 1 is “Poor” and 4 is “Excellent”). The proportion of respondents who thought their advancement prospects were “Excellent” dropped once more to just 13.7% (from 15.0% in 2012 and 21.8% in 2011). Those who felt their prospects were “Good” remained flat at 35.8% (vs. 36.0% in 2012 and 31.1% in 2011). Those who perceived their advancement prospects to be “Poor” dropped slightly from 22.3% to 20.6% (vs. 18.4% in 2011).

When the “Excellent” and “Good” responses are added together there are again significant differences between types of employers (Fig. 6). This year, Manufacturers performed a lot better, with 53.3% of employees feeling their advancements prospect were either “Excellent” or “Good” – up considerably from 44.4% last year. Far fewer Manufacturer employees said their prospects were “Poor” this year, too (20.2% vs. 26.8% in 2012). Agencies came out on top overall, with 58.3% perceiving their advancement prospects to be “Excellent” or “Good” (vs. 61.4% in 2012) and just 15.6% saying they were “Poor” (vs. 13.3%).

As for what factors respondents felt were the most important to them in their jobs, in terms of average rankings (where 1 is the most important and 8 is the least), Salary again came out on top (2.5 vs. 2.4 in 2012). This was followed by Work Environment/Culture (3.2 vs. 2.9), Job Security (4.0 vs. 3.9) and Benefits (4.1 vs. 4.2). Training again ranked poorly (6.3 vs. 6.4) with Environmental/Social Responsibility again coming last (remaining at 6.9).

Last year, more respondents actually chose Work Environment/Culture (35%) as their number one consideration than chose Salary (31%)—however, this year normal service is resumed (just) with 32% choosing Salary as their most important factor and 30% voting for Work Environment/Culture. Similar to last year, 58% ranked Training as either their least or second-least important factor.

So how are their current employers performing in these various attributes? Salary (2.2 vs. 2.3 in 2012) and Work Environment/Culture (remains 2.2) both score highly, as do Benefits (2.3 vs.2.2) and Job Security (remains 2.3). Once again, Training scores lowest, remaining at 2.8.

Eyes on the Prize

In terms of job migration, we seem to have reached a watershed moment this year: for the first time, more respondents reported that they intended to seek a new position in the next 12 months (37.7% vs. 34.6% in 2012) than said they intended to stay put (36.0% vs. 38.4%). (See Fig. 7.)

Of those, 27.6% said their prime motivation was for Better Salary and/or Benefits, down slightly from 28.8% last year and 32.1% in 2011. The second most cited reason was a tie at 19.3% between Better Work Environment/Culture (vs. 18.0% in 2012) and Better Advancement Prospects (vs.17.4%).

And out of those looking to migrate, the most likely methods of job-seeking, they reported, would be to use Existing Contacts ­(average rank 1.9 vs. 1.8 last year) or a Recruitment Agency (2.3 vs.  2.4).

By download the PDF at the top of the page, you can find data sets for selected job titles, including several titles not listed in our print issue. And to access the full complement of job titles, plus hundreds of additional insights and data sets, stay tuned for the the MM&M Career & Salary Survey Premium Edition, which will soon be available at