How Much Salary Can You Expect in a Biotech Job?

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If you’re thinking of taking a job in biotech, you’re probably wondering how much you’ll be paid. Here’s what you can expect depending on how high in the ladder your new position is.

Salary is undoubtedly an important factor when searching for a new job position, so it’s important to know what you can expect. Based on a survey listing the average gross salaries according to job title across seven European countries (Ireland, UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, and Switzerland), we have put together a guide on what salary you can expect in different positions of the biotech company chain.

Top Tier Management

Average annual salary range: €131,000 – €200,000

This includes roles such as Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Chief Scientific Officer (CSO), Chief Operational Officer (COO), and Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

In short, the people filling these roles are at the very top of the hierarchy, reporting directly to the Board of Directors. They have total responsibility for their respective domains.

CEOs and Managing Directors are a special case. As they are in charge of managing entire companies and are often the public face of their organizations, this is the highest paid role in a company and salary is usually negotiated based on the individual’s experience and accolades.

Vice Presidents

Average annual salary range: €120,000 – €165,000

These roles report to top-tier management and often carry responsibility for entire divisions. For example, a company that focuses on infectious disease and diabetes will likely have a VP of R&D for each of these divisions.

Other roles in this category include Head of Medical Affairs, Head of Pharmaceuticals, VP Pharmacovigilance, Medical Director, Clinical Program Director.

Heads of Major Divisions

Average annual salary range: €91,000 – €118,000

This category is quite fluid and will differ depending on the company and its specific activities. Heads of Major Divisions are typically leading large groups of employees and report to the VPs of their respective areas. For example, a biopharmaceutical company will likely have heads for divisions such as raw materials, formulation, and finished products.

Other examples include Head of Pre Clinical Development and Head of Medical Liaisons.

Directors, Qualified Persons and Heads of Medium-Sized Units

Average annual salary range: € 88,000 – €110,000

Directors and Heads of Medium-Sized Units can be thought of as local VP, often heading up their respective area within a given site. Qualified Persons are individuals approved by local regulatory authorities, to ensure that quality matters are in compliance, and to sign off on product releases.

Examples in this category include Associate Pharmacovigilance Director and Clinical Operations Manager. 

Senior Managers

Average annual salary range: €67,000 – €94,000

A Senior Manager typically oversees groups of managers within a specific area. For example, a Senior Line Manager would oversee the activities carried out on multiple assembly lines on one site. Other examples include Sales Manager, who oversees the activities of Area Sales Managers across a geographical region, and Brand Manager.

Project Managers, Team Leaders and Supervisors

Average annual salary range: €59,000 – €84,000

Individuals belonging to this category are typically leading small- to medium-sized teams of employees, including specialists, senior and entry-level staff. Alternatively, they are leading projects, which may also involve a certain amount of team leading, depending on the organization.

Examples include Quality Assurance Manager, Clinical Trials Manager, and Line and Warehouse Managers.

Specialists and Principal Scientists

Average annual salary range: €59,000 – €74,000

This category overlaps to some extent with the previous category. While a Principal Scientist isn’t necessarily a manager, they may have responsibility for and oversee certain tasks carried out by other team members, such as quality assays. The same can be said about Specialists.

Specialists and Principle Scientists often work very closely with Project Managers, Team Leaders, and Supervisors.

Senior Staff

Average annual salary range: €50,000 – €70,000

Individuals who enter the industry at entry level often progress to senior roles within 2-4 years. Those with PhDs and relevant experience may actually enter the industry at senior level, such as Senior Scientist.

Other examples include Clinical Research Associates II, Senior Clinical Research Associates, Marketing Executives, Technical Support Specialists, Senior QA Officers, Senior Regulatory Officers and Senior PV Officers.

Entry-Level Roles

Average annual salary range: €30,000 – €60,000

These tend to be the way in for many graduates who don’t have PhDs or PhD-level graduates with no industrial experience.

Examples include Junior Scientists, Analytical Chemists, Clinical Research Associates I, Clinical Trial Coordinators, Clinical Trial Administrators, QA Officers, QC Analysts, Laboratory Technicians, Regulatory Affairs Associates, Production and Process Technicians, and PV Officers.

Interns and Graduate Programs

No data available

Although we can’t provide an average salary range for internships and graduate program participants, this category is worth mentioning because it is an important route into the biotech industry for many young professionals today. In this category the salary tends to be low but it can vary widely depending on the company. 

There is no rule of thumb

The figures presented above represent the average salaries for biotech roles in the European countries included in the survey. Just as there is no fixed salary for any given role, the same set of tasks may constitute a different role depending on the country or company. Therefore, these figures should only be taken as a guide to help you get an idea of how much you can expect in a new position.

In reality, the actual annual salary for any role will vary based on many factors, such as the specific industry area, the stage and size of the company (early-stage companies may pass less gross salary than established companies), and the geographic location.

Of course, your educational background, skill set and the extent of your experience also play a big role in the salary you might secure. So go polish those negotiating skills and make the most of your next biotech job.

Remember to look at the whole package

While the salary may be the deciding factor for many of us in the final stages of the jobseeking process, it’s important not to lose sight of the whole package. Depending on your circumstances, there may be perks in your contract that end up being worth more than your salary! For example:

  • Health insurance – this often extends to dependent children and spouses
  • Relocation allowance
  • Annual vacation days
  • Possibility to work flexitime
  • Work-from-home opportunities
  • Subsidized childcare
  • Attractive pension schemes
  • Miscellaneous: company car, electronics, gym membership, etc. 

How much of a salary should you demand?

At the end of the day, this will depend on your situation. Many entry-level candidates will be more interested in getting a foot in the door than negotiating a higher salary, while for people moving up the ranks, salary may be the ultimate deciding factor for signing a new contract or not.

Whatever your situation, it’s worthwhile checking out typical salaries for your desired role in your region. There are a number of resources to help you with this task; Glassdoor seems to be one of the popular ones. You can use this information to help you identify the salary that you require, based on your qualifications and experience.

Here are a few national pages that offering similar resources:

That’s all for now! Whether you are embarking on a career in biotech, or are considering a move within your field, we hope that you find this useful. If you have anything to share about biotech salaries in Europe, we would love to hear from you. Drop us a line in the comments section below!

Karen O’Hanlon Cohrt is a Science Writer and Editor with a PhD in biotechnology from Maynooth University, Ireland. She can be found on Twitter @KarenOHCohrt and you can find some of her other articles on her portfolio. 

Salary averages are based on “The Pharma & Biotech Salary Survey and Employee Motivations Report (2017)” and updated with information from Real Life Sciences Salary Survey & Employee Motivation Report 2019 – Pharma & Biotech.

If you are interested in finding a biotech job, please check out Labiotech’s new job board.

This article was originally published on November 2017 and has since been updated.
Images via Shutterstock






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