In it for the Long Haul

PhM's 2015 Reader Survey finds Pharma's professionals satisfied with their careers and leery of corporate "change" related to acquisitions, restructuring and cost control.

By Steven Kuehn, Editor in Chief

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Although there are likely few professionals out there who aren’t growing a tad fatigued at the constant come-ons for survey respondents, Pharmaceutical Manufacturing’s readers continue to take the opportunity to lend their voice to the conversation that is the Pharma industry today. Each year since the magazine began publishing in 2003, Pharmaceutical Manufacturing has queried its readership to get a sense of how they are feeling about their chosen profession, and to better understand who they are as people, not to mention where salary levels are at — something everyone is at least a bit curious about.


Response to this year’s study was slightly lower than last year’s with 334 total responses. Generally that worked out to more than 300 responses to every one of the 27 questions we posed because readers were not required to answer every question.

Let’s take a look at the demographic profile revealed by PhM’s responding readers. By in large, most were predominately male (79 percent of 302 responses), a majority ranging in age from 30 to 54 and older with the majority a bachelor’s or master’s degree in either chemistry, chemical engineering or pharmaceutics and the remainder with engineering degrees or specialties like biology or biochemistry. Most fill operational roles (52 percent of 307 responses) across manufacturing, quality assessment, plant engineering and R&D categories. Most respondents have staff to supervise, with the remainder occupying “individual contributor” roles including business development, QA/QM roles, technical services, training, sales, regulatory affairs and more. By in large, and that includes about a third of responding women have been working in the industry for more than 20 years (42 percent) with next largest chunk (30 percent) delivering their blood, sweat and tears to Pharma from 11 to 20 years. 

Responding readers represented the panoply that is the Pharma industry, with 21 percent from Big Pharma, 18 percent from small and mid-sized specialty pharmaceutical manufacturers, 16 percent from Generic Pharma and 11 percent from Contract Pharma. Biopharma manufacturers followed with 8 percent. The remainder, including consultancies, vendor/solution providers and all others, account for about 28 percent of the total pie.

Salaries reflect the seniority with most (46 percent of 306 respondents) making salaries between $100,000 to more than $200,000. For others, 21 percent have salaries ranging from $80,000 to $100,000, the rest claiming annual salaries ranging from less than $40,000 to $80,000. More than three quarters of respondents said they received a raise last year, 80 percent reported receiving a 3-5 percent bump in salary.

Can Get Some Satisfaction

It’s not a stretch to think that more money tends to make employees happy, and responses to “Please rate your overall level of job satisfaction,” did not surprise with 53 percent of 333 total responses rating their satisfaction as High (43 percent) or Very High (10 percent). However, most reading this would likely agree that in this industry, satisfaction is not solely predicated on one’s salary; is there a man or woman out there in Pharma who doesn’t garner great satisfaction from being part of an industry that’s primary mission is to save lives and make people healthier?

Okay, well, 20 percent did indicate that Salary and Benefits were most important to job satisfaction, but 30 percent say they receive satisfaction from the Challenging Work. Job Security and Opportunity for Advancement garnered about 30 percent of responses, followed by Appreciation. Some, interestingly noted Low-stress Environment (!) and a couple of folks mentioned they derived satisfaction from Enjoyable Colleagues, and wasn’t that nice of them? Regardless, about 10 percent rate their satisfaction as Poor or Very Poor, with the rest chilling with a relatively non-committal Okay, which seems about the right distribution across any commercial enterprise. 


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