Job Security and Salaries Trend Upward

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BioPharm International, BioPharm International-12-01-2014, Volume 27, Issue 12

Biopharma employees report gains in compensation and job satisfaction, as industry growth continues.

A more positive outlook for growth in the biopharmaceutical market, improving job security and satisfaction, and an uptick in restructuring and M&A activity are trends identified by respondents in the 2014 installment of BioPharm International’s annual employment survey (1). Compensation was a leading indicator of improving employment conditions; 62.8% of survey respondents indicated that they make more this year than they did last year, compared with nearly 51.5% who reported a salary increase last year (2).



A breakdown of respondents
The respondents to this year’s survey represent a range of roles including research, development, and formulation; analytical studies; quality control and assurance; process development; manufacturing; and regulatory affairs. The respondents work for biopharmaceutical manufacturers, academic institutions, contract service providers, or other companies supporting the industry.

The respondent audience is geographically diverse. Of the survey participants, 51.8% are from the United States and nearly 30% are from Europe. The respondents are employed by both large and small companies; 30% of the respondents work in companies with more than 10,000 employees, and of these large companies, 64.3% are in the US.

Among all business sizes, respondents rated knowledge of ICH guidelines (63.2%), good manufacturing practices (62.8%), analytical techniques (59.8%), chemistry (50.8%), and general principles of management (44.6%) as very important.

Workload, pay, prospects
More than 45% of the respondents reported an increase in business at their company; however, only 26% said their employer hired more people.

Almost two-thirds (62.2%) of participants say that business at their company will continue to expand and improve in the future, a number that is more optimistic than last year’s projection, in which 52.7% said business would improve. Nearly 54% of participants said their company had been through a merger, acquisition, or restructuring in the past two years, a jump from the 46.5% reporting similar changes in 2013.

The positive business outlook had mixed results in personal employment conditions. Job security, a key indicator, showed a positive upswing. In 2014, 22% of the respondents said they felt more secure in their jobs compared with the previous year, up from 18.3% in 2013. The percentage of people who fell less secure in their position year to year dropped from 33.9% in 2013 to 31.1% in 2014.

In 2013, 35.7% of respondents reported that they worked more hours than in the previous year; in 2014, the number dropped slightly, with one-third reporting that they worked more hours this year compared to last year. Workloads remained relatively stable to 2013. In 2014, 64.3% reported their workload has increased this year, compared with 62.3% who reported an increase in 2013. Of those who reported an increased workload, 70.1% attributed it to the expansion of business without corresponding staff increases.


As the economy continues a slow recovery, compensation prospects are looking up for employees in the biopharmaceutical development arena. In 2014, 62.8% of the respondents reported that they received a raise in 2014, compared to 51.5% in 2013. Even with salary increases, however, compensation levels are not satisfactory for more than half of the respondents; 55.3% say that they are either paid below market value or in the low end of their salary range.

When contemplating a job change, salary is not the top factor; 35.5% of the respondents said that they would leave their current jobs for salary alone, a decrease from the 41% of 2013 respondents who said they would change jobs based on salary alone. Professional advancement was listed as the top reason for changing jobs: 37.6% of respondents said this was the most important motivating factor prompting a change.

Biopharma professionals responding to the survey reported a more positive view of the job market. Although 63.3% of the respondents expressed some certainty that they will not leave their jobs within the year, more than half said they would leave their current job if given the opportunity and 21.8% were absolutely certain they would leave if given the chance. Last year, 60.8% of survey participants said they were confident they could find a job comparable to the one they currently hold; in 2014, 67.7% said they could find a similar job now if they were to look for another opportunity.

Gender considerations
Women represented 30.9% of survey respondents, with a proportionally larger representation (62.7%) from the US compared to the overall survey sample. Nearly 85% of all respondents said that gender is not a factor in determining or limiting professional advancement; however, only 69.1% of the female respondents said they do not feel gender plays a significant role in professional advancement.

Women reported a higher percentage of salary increases than the entire sample (74.6% compared with 62.8%). Almost two-thirds (61%) of women felt they were paid in the low range or below market value, a higher percentage than for the whole survey population (55.3%). This salary discrepancy may be explained by a smaller proportion of women in managerial roles. When broken down by gender, only 39.7% of females managed other people. More then half (52%) of the male respondents were managers.

Regional differences
Regional differences between the answers in the US and those of Europe are not surprising. In Europe, 58.8% of respondents had 4
6 weeks of vacation, compared with 31.9% of those in the US getting that much time. Additionally, Europeans rated health insurance as the lowest priority, with 24.4% of respondents in Europe saying health insurance would have no impact on a decision to change jobs. This is likely due to the fact that most European countries have universal health coverage.

Apart from insurance and vacation, notable differences include the activity of contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs). Several respondents from Europe mentioned that the employment conditions are due to too much outsourcing, and competition is getting tougher for CMOs overseas. More than a few participants said that more CMO opportunities are emerging in Asia, with one specific mention about China’s entrance into the CMO market.

*Due to rounding, some percentages may not add up to 100%. Some questions allowed multiple answers.
Results based on 2014 BioPharm International Employment Survey.

1. 2014 BioPharm International Employment Survey.
2. 2013 BioPharm International Employment Survey.

Article DetailsBioPharm International
Vol. 27 No. 12
Pages: 26-29
Citation: When referring to this article, please cite it as R. Hernandez, "Job Security and Salaries Trend Upward," BioPharm International27 (12) 2014.