How much do pharma reps earn?
Pharma sales jobs may not be among the highest paying jobs in medical sales, but the average pharmaceutical sales rep salary is impressive by most standards. According to the 2015 Medical Sales Salary Report, the average pharmaceutical sales salary is $116,334 (Med. $115,000), and the average specialty pharma salary is $134,414 (Med. $125,000) for a combined average of $124,622.
About the Survey
The 5th Annual Medical Sales Salary survey collected income and demographic data from more than 3,000 medical and pharmaceutical sales professionals. These responses were compiled and evaluated to determine how medical sales salaries are impacted by factors such as products sold, company size, travel, experience, and even age and gender.
Together, pharma and specialty pharma professionals accounted for 24% of the survey respondents. The majority work for manufacturers in a field sales role. Traditional pharma reps and specialty pharma reps are different in that pharma reps usually call on primary care doctors, while specialty pharma reps call on specialists such as oncologists, cardiologists, or dermatologists. Specialty pharma reps typically represent drugs that are used to treat less common diseases. As it turns out, another difference between the two is how much money they make. As noted above, specialty pharma salaries are significantly higher than pharma sales salaries.
Average Pharmaceutical Sales Salary by Job Title and Company Size
What kind of product a rep sells clearly impacts their average salary, but job title and the type and size of the company they work for are also important factors. If you guessed pharmaceutical sales directors and VPs earned the highest pharmaceutical sales salaries, you’d be correct. At $217, 629, the average pharmaceutical sales salary for sales directors and VPs is significantly higher than the second highest earners, sales managers, who earn $168,456. Average pharmaceutical sales rep salaries come in at $121,017, and this accounts for the majority of respondents.
The majority of respondents also work for manufacturers, and for the most part, manufacturers pay more than distributors or service providers. Unlike in the main Medical Sales Salary Report, smaller manufacturers pay more than medium or large-sized manufacturers, though the sample size for small manufacturers was small (1%). Over half (53%) of all pharma respondents work for large manufacturers and earn an average pharma sales salary of $133,291.
Average Pharmaceutical Sales Salary by Age and Experience
Most pharma reps have to pay their dues before earning a big pharmaceutical sales rep salary. Those in their 20s and those with fewer than 2 years of experience report average earnings below $100k. Income gradually increases as professionals age and as they gain experience, with the highest earners coming from the over 60 group and from those with 20+ years of experience.
Travel and Location Influences on Pharmaceutical Sales Salaries
According to the data, the more pharmaceutical sales reps travel, the more money they earn, with the highest earners saying they travel overnight at least 75% of the time. Where pharma reps live does not appear to impact earnings all that much. States with the largest number of respondents (California, Texas, Florida, and Pennsylvania) reported average incomes that mirrored the overall average – ranging from $122k-$126k. While a few states reported significantly higher averages (Kansas, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Hawaii, South Dakota), they represented a low sample size and were typically skewed by 1 or 2 respondents with a management job title.
Average Income of Pharma Sales Reps by Gender
Of all the sub-categories of medical sales, pharma and specialty pharma have the best balance of men and women; however, men still represent 59% of all pharma respondents, and they out earn women by 14%. That means women earn an average pharmaceutical sales salary that is just 86% of what men earn. Unlike in the overall salary report, where base salaries were more on par, even the base pharmaceutical sales salaries were significantly different between men and women. This gender inequity is largely explained by the fact that men are far more likely to hold higher paying job titles such as Sales Director, Sales VP, or Sales Manager. Just 1 in 6 Sales Directors or Sales VPs is a woman, and 1 in 7 Sales Managers.
Year-Over-Year Average Pharmaceutical Sales Rep Salary
The average income for those with pharmaceutical sales jobs continues to increase. In fact the average total pharma sales salary in 2015 is up almost 5% over the 2014 average. After a dip in 2013, the average pharmaceutical rep salary appears to be coming back stronger than ever. Pharma sales jobs continue to be highly sought-after, not simply as a way to break into medical sales, but as a solid career opportunity with plenty of room for growth.