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Best paying jobs in biotech and pharma? Data for median salaries at 175 companies

Best paying jobs in biotech and pharma? Data for median salaries at 175 companies

By Andrew Dunn on June 7th, 2023

Biopharma jobs continue to be particularly lucrative, with well over 100 life sciences companies paying their median employee more than $100,000 in 2022, according to an Endpoints News analysis.

After reviewing hundreds of regulatory filings, Endpoints compiled data from 175 pharmaceutical, biotech, and life sciences companies that disclosed their median employee compensation last year. While there are limitations in comparing figures, they give a rare look at how much companies pay workers.

Pay ranges vary widely, depending on the employer: The best-paying company on the list had a median salary of $674,500, while the bottom company paid $12,380. The mid-range was around $200,000.

High paychecks are just another indicator of the industry’s war for talent, as well as the specialized skills required for many of the jobs. Biopharma executives have highlighted the challenge of bringing in and keeping talented workers. The number of life sciences researchers grew by 3.1% last year, outpacing US job growth of 2.2%, according to a June 6 report by the commercial real estate business CBRE Group. Demand for life sciences workers is also higher than pre-pandemic levels, the report found.

The pay data suggest the coastal hubs of the industry are the front lines of the talent war: 24 of the 27 companies reporting median pay over $300,000 are headquartered in California, Massachusetts, or New York. Nearly all of those were in the Boston, San Francisco and San Diego regions.

The top-paying biotechs also tend to have smaller, highly specialized teams. Among the top 10 companies, for instance, three specialize in neurology (Anavex Life Sciences, Prothena, and Karuna Therapeutics) and two are focused on the liver disease NASH (Akero Therapeutics and Madrigal Pharmaceuticals). Twenty-six of the 27 companies reporting pay over $300,000 also had fewer than 1,000 employees

The high pay figures, however, could also hide a shift in how pay is broken down at many biotechs. DeeDee DeMan, the CEO of the life-sciences advisory firm Bench International, says pay has become a particularly sensitive topic for companies given the market downturn.

“Companies are trying to save every dollar they can to make it through to the other side,” DeMan told Endpoints, adding that the big sign-on bonuses that were common a couple years ago for new hires aren’t happening now.

Many biopharmas are offering more equity “to save cash that they need to get through to 2025 and beyond,” DeMan said.

Click the following link to read the “Endpoints’ Median Employee Pay Tracker”:

A note on methodology:
Companies are not required to provide a breakdown of median employee pay. Many companies are exempt from the disclosure to start, such as privately held companies, foreign-filing companies, and smaller startups. Endpoints also added a few large European drugmakers that disclose typical employee pay with slightly different calculations. Sanofi, for instance, only considered full-time workers in its analysis, while Argenx excluded equity from its pay figure. To be sure, the proxy figures aren’t an apples-to-apples comparison: The Securities and Exchange Commission allows companies to use a range of methodologies to reach that number, and nearly every company warns in its filing that it shouldn’t be compared with peers. Despite those limitations, the data provide an annual peek behind the closely-guarded pay curtain at businesses both large and small. The searchable table also includes market capitalization figures from Google Finance, updated on June 6, and headcount figures from the financial research firm AlphaSense/Sentieo.