mmm career and salary survey 2019

There’s all kinds of good news in MM&M’s 33rd annual salary survey, sponsored by AbelsonTaylor. With national unemployment rates still near 50-year lows, the average salary for health marketers who responded jumped more than $20,000 to $184,632, a 12% bump up from $164,479 in last year’s edition.

And, at least per the survey’s 1,096 respondents, the good news extends to job satisfaction. Almost one-third said they are thoroughly satisfied with their jobs, while 52.9% reported they are generally satisfied. They’re also hopeful, with 53.8% rating their advancement prospects as either excellent or good, with another 28.1% reporting that they are fair. Only 18% describe them as poor.

Our respondents plan to stick around for a while, with only 25.1% sharing that they plan to look for a new job this year. Not only is that lower than the 29.4% in 2018 who said they were polishing their resumes, but it’s also sharply lower than the 30% to 40% norm of previous years.

Finally, more healthcare marketers are earning bonuses: 69.3% versus 67.6% in the 2018 survey. Alas, those annual delights are a tiny bit less juicy, averaging $37,359, down from $37,939 last time around.

But one unfortunate trend persists: Men continue to be paid more highly than their female counterparts. The 536 men who responded to the survey reported an average earning of $230,245, up an astonishing 22% from last year’s $189,440. (Two fortunate male respondents reported a salary of $10 million, which skews the number upward.)

By comparison, the 560 women who responded saw their average compensation fall to $140,974, down from $141,784 (which itself was down from $144,100 the year prior). That means the income gap between women and men almost doubled, widening to 63.3% from 33.6% in the 2018 survey.

It’s not just salary, either. Fewer women receive bonuses (66.4% compared to 72.4% of men). And when they do, bonus amounts for women average $21,631 versus $52,439 for men. There’s even discrimination in the statistical outliers: The highest reported bonus by a man was $1.15 million, while the woman’s high point was $600,000. Commissions follow a similar pattern. Of the 11.9% of men earning commission, the average sum is $86,493. For the 8.9% of women who do so, it’s $48,928.

The problem persists in the industry’s upper echelons, with women at the director level earning just $158,448, compared to the average director-level salary for men of $294,357 and the average director-level salary of $236,857.

What’s that, you say? Perhaps employers make it up to women in other ways, such as company perks? Sorry, but women are slighted there, too: They’re less likely to receive a company car, a signing bonus, retirement benefits, even medical and dental coverage.

In fact, of the 11 types of benefits we asked about, women only reported having the same or more in a few areas, including the option of telecommuting and working remotely, access to collaborative office space and time for pro bono work. They are also more likely to receive — wait for it — free workouts. Men get cars. Women get Zumba.

 One explanation for the worsening disparity might be that, in MM&M’s sample, women had somewhat less experience. With an average age of 43.9, women respondents average about 15 years in the industry and have been in their positions for 5.1 years. Men, on the other hand, reported an average age of 50.4, an average industry tenure of 19.4 years and an average of about seven years in their current positions. It’s worth noting that one male respondent reported that he was 99 years old, which un-skews one potential disparity.

Despite this inherent unfairness, women are just as loyal as men. Only 25.2% said they’re likely to look for a new job in the next year versus 25% of men.

Perhaps it’s time to knock on some HR department doors. Slightly more than 41% of women said they believe they earn the same as their male counterparts. That belief exists at the highest levels, with fewer than half (46.3%) of women directors aware that they’re underpaid relative to their male peers.

Position by position

Salaries are considerably higher among the 114 CEOs, presidents and managing directors who took our survey, who averaged $257,261, $589,973 and $487,890, respectively. Bonuses for these poohbahs averaged $132,667, $116,066 and $29,361.

And while money can’t buy happiness, it does seem to bring a degree of contentment. The higher the salary, the more likely respondents are to say they thoroughly enjoy their jobs — as affirmed by 69.6% of CEOs, 56.8% of presidents and 48.4% of managing directors, compared with the overall average of 31.5%. They’re also far less likely to look for a new job this year. And surprisingly, considering they’re already at the top of the food chain, they are more than twice as likely to say they see room for advancement in their current posts. (Watch your backs, my friends.)

Those who are directors and above earn $236,857, while non-directors make $131,349. For VPs of marketing, the average salary is $207,876; for VPs of marketing and sales, $206,342; and for VPs of operation, $218,395. On sales teams, VPs earn $194,375, sales directors $170,643 and sales managers $115,286.

Respondents this year reported nearly 50 different titles. A mere 15 of the positions averaged less than $100,000 per year. Marketing coordinators were the lowest paid at $53,831, while copywriters averaged $85,968, production managers $87,000 and account managers at $87,705.

Healthcare marketing remains one of the few businesses where bonuses continue to be the norm. Sixty-nine percent of respondents said they receive bonuses, with the average payout reaching $37,400. A majority of respondents, 56.7%, see themselves as underpaid as compared to peers.

Sector by sector

In terms of workplace, manufacturers were again the largest cohort (33.3% of respondents), with agencies close behind (31.2%). The average salary for marketers working for a manufacturer was $180,810, up from $172,433 in last year’s survey. That figure is roughly a luxury-car payment above the $180,371 earned by agency people, up from $177,823 a year ago.

Small sample sizes (24 respondents total) are likely the reason that media and publishing execs, both on the HCP and consumer side, were the highest-paid group in the survey, with an average salary of $350,083. Next up were supplier/
vendors — representing 9.4% of the respondent pool — with an average salary of $229,871. That’s a massive leap from the average of $155,138 last time around.

 In terms of market sectors, respondents in medical devices and equipment reported the highest pay at $257,904. They were trailed by individuals in hospital products and equipment ($256,354), prescription pharmaceuticals ($185,374), biotech ($183,168) and diagnostic products and equipment ($164,897). Managed care marketers reported the lowest annual salary at $128,742, with marketers of dental products and equipment next at $131,116.

A room without a roof

Finally, the survey reveals that while salary is the primary way people evaluate work success — and still the No. 1 reason people look for a new job — it isn’t everything. Individuals who report that they are “thoroughly satisfied” at work aren’t the best-paid. They earn an average of $165,264, compared to $207,140 for those who say they are “generally satisfied.” The thoroughly satisfied workers tend to be a little older (48) and have stayed in their current role for the longest duration (6.4 years).

And while there are numerous reasons to prefer working at big companies, happiness may not be one of them. Respondents reporting the highest levels of satisfaction toil for companies with annual revenue of less than $20 million, with the highest levels of good feelings at companies with less than $5 million in revenue. Employees at these relatively tiny companies are least likely to say they’re looking for a new job, too.

Among respondents who said they are either looking for a new job or plan to do so soon, the average salary is $150,377, compared to $197,195 for those who plan to stay put. The majority of those looking around reported that a better paycheck is their primary motivation, followed by a better environment, better benefits, better job security, more loyalty to employees, advancement opportunities, training opportunities and, finally, their employer’s environmental and social responsibility. A small but significant number of those who say they plan to look for a new job in the next year, 8%, are looking to move to a different part of the industry.

When it comes to how they’ll find these jobs, those on the prowl say they’ll start with existing professional contacts, followed by recruitment agencies, job ads, contacting companies and posting their résumés on job sites.


A total of 1,096 marketers (536 men and 560 women) responded to the survey, which was placed in the field in late July and early August. The average age of respondents was 47.1 years, with 99 the oldest and 23 the youngest.

The survey revealed an average industry tenure of 17.2 years, up from 16.9 years in 2018. Respondents spent an average of six years in their positions, up from 5.3 years in last year’s survey. They hail from a range of organizations, with pharma companies (365) and agencies (342) comprising the bulk of the respondent cohort.

Of those organizations, 14.4% have approximate gross U.S. revenue of less than $5 million, 20.5% between $5 million and $20 million, 15.6% between $20 million and $50 million and 11.4% between $50 million and $100 million. About 38% bring in revenue of more than $100 million.