Can Biopharma Steer Through the Stormy Seas? - The year 2009 was marked by recession, industry megamergers, and venture-capital scarcity. How did biopharmaceutical professionals fare? - BioPharm

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Can Biopharma Steer Through the Stormy Seas?
The year 2009 was marked by recession, industry megamergers, and venture-capital scarcity. How did biopharmaceutical professionals fare?


BioPharm International
Volume 23, Issue 1

UPTICK IN SALARIES

Despite the current economic scenario, our survey shows that the salaries of biopharmaceutical professionals increased in 2009. "The salaries might not have gone up as much as they have in the past, but they haven't gone down," says Ultee.


Figure 1. Mean income in dollars or euros by gender
Others agree, noting that skilled staff continue to do well. "When you are changing jobs, the salary depends on your qualifications," says a senior regulatory affairs manager at a big biotech, who started his new job only three months ago. "Well-qualified people are getting comparable salaries [to past years]," he says.


Figure 2. Income in US dollars by primary job responsibility
The numbers bear this out. As shown in Figure 1, the mean industry salary this year was $96,742 in the United States, a tad higher than the $89,760 figure of 2008, and €68,711 in Europe (approximately $99,859, converted at an average exchange rate over 2009 of €1=$1.45), compared to €62,721 ($85,927) last year. In the US, 39% of respondents earn more than $100,000 and 25% earn between $75,000 and $100,000. The salary breakdown among European respondents was similar: 34% earn more than €70,000 ($101,745) and 24% earn between €50,001 and €70,000 ($72,676 to $101,745). This year's survey showed that the US biotech jobs with the highest salaries included corporate management, plant engineering and design, and regulatory affairs (Figure 2).

Does all this mean it's easy to find a biotech job in the current market? "It depends on the person's level," says the QA professional. "At a higher level, change can be very easy, but for a younger person it might be difficult due to the current flux in the industry," he adds.

PharmStorm's Ruvolo thinks qualified people are always in demand, particularly in certain specializations, like QA/QC. "Quality assurance and quality control areas are always strong, and candidates with the right degrees will find opportunities." The senior regulatory affairs manager from a big biotech agrees. "In terms of regulatory affairs, there hasn't been much of a change, even with the downturn," he says. "It is hard to find people in this area, so recruiting hasn't been impacted."

The QA professional, who recently started a new job, says that he had plenty of opportunities when he was looking for a change. "Since I was willing to relocate, I didn't have problems getting a job. There were several positions and opportunities in the market," he says. He thinks being in a technical role helps. "Sales and marketing are more affected than other areas," he says.

Langer also notes that some new skillsets are in demand. "We've found that companies feel they need to bring in people with more global expertise and perspective," he says. "The biotech industry is no longer principally Western-centric, [and] there are more and more companies seeking information from, and about developing geographies," he adds.


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