Titles and salaries in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries
Posted by The Editors on August 23, 2012
A note about salaries: At large pharmaceutical companies, people in management positions earn significant bonuses in cash and stock options. At many biotech companies, all employees receive stock options, which, if the company does well, can be lucrative. These bonuses are not reflected in the salary ranges below. Lab Tech Lab techs perform the routine maintenance tasks-cleaning and maintaining glassware, working with animal colonies, operating lab equipment, and so on-that are needed to keep labs functioning. Only a high school diploma is required, though many people with college degrees start here as well. Salary range: $27,000 to $35,000. Research Associate A BS or MS in biochemistry or a related discipline and experience working in a lab are typically required to land this job. Associates work at the bench, conducting experiments under the guidance of PhD scientists. If you're coming out of school with some lab experience but no PhD and you want to work in R&D, this is the job for you. Salary range: $40,000 to $71,000. Research Scientist After receiving a PhD and completing a postdoc, a scientist can get a job as a research scientist (sometimes the initial title is "associate scientist"), designing and conducting experiments and writing up results for publication when appropriate. Salary range: $65,000 to $110,000. Sales Rep Sales reps work with physicians, hospitals, HMOs, and countless other medical institutions to keep health-care professionals abreast of-and, if possible, partial toward-their company's line of products. Some of these jobs require extensive travel; others don't. A bachelor's degree in the sciences will help, but previous sales experience is more important in landing one of these jobs. Big Pharma companies have huge staffs of sales reps, so these positions can offer the necessary prerequisite for the more complex job of biotechnology sales, where salaries are higher and bonuses can exceed base salary. Average base salary for all sales reps: $68,600 plus generous incentives. Marketing Analyst/Associate Product Manager Job seekers without a background in science can also find work on the marketing side in Big Pharma and large biotech companies. A marketing analyst is primarily responsible for coordinating and implementing campaigns for specific drugs, audiences, or both. This involves a little strategy and a lot of execution-things like developing collateral pieces, working as a liaison to advertising agencies, and overseeing a company presence at conventions. Many MBAs enter the industry this way, and-perhaps more important-few without MBAs move far beyond the marketing analyst level, although this varies from company to company. Other people come to these positions from sales. Salary range: $46,000 to $75,000 (more for MBAs with industry or sales experience). Product Manager This job requires managing a team of people and working to determine price, distribution, brand image, forecasting, and overall strategy for one or more drugs. On a micro level, the job can be claustrophobic: Imagine spending 13 months of six-day weeks learning every aspect of a single drug, then having the company decide that it would be best simply to let the product die. But over the years you should be exposed to some of the most important, dynamic, and profitable drug markets in the industry, an experience that will give you a big-picture understanding of the industry and make you a greater asset to the company. Salary range: $65,000 to $120,000. Programmer/Analyst These titles cover a wide variety of jobs, but put simply, programmers/analysts are computer people. There's a lot of complex database work to be done in this industry, particularly for clinical trials, which can involve thousands of patients (sometimes in several countries) with elaborate medical histories and completely different responses to each of the drugs and placebos being tested. And the computational demands of postgenomic research are enormous, creating demand for job seekers who have backgrounds combining science with computers. Bachelor's degrees are usually required (though not always). Salary range: $56,000 to $74,000. Regulatory Affairs Associate/Manager The regulatory affairs career path suits job seekers who have a background in science but don't want to do lab work. Regulatory affairs specialists complete the paperwork required by regulatory agencies worldwide and communicate directly with the agencies to ask questions and resolve issues. Depending on their level of industry experience, they may also set regulatory strategy for a pharma company. A master's degree is typically the minimum requirement for entry-level positions. Salary range: $42,000 to $88,000. Clinical Research Physician (CRP) CRPs are MDs who develop and implement plans for ushering experimental drugs through preapproval clinical trials. They work on cross-functional teams to maximize understanding of the pharmacological, regulatory, and clinical dimensions of the drugs being studied. Salary range: $90,000 to $200,000; company-sponsored speaking tours and other promotional events offer the enterprising physician numerous other ways to increase net income.