2016 Pharmaceutical Sales Salary Report

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Pharmaceutical Sales Salary Report

2016 Pharmaceutical Sales Salary Report

What is the average pharmaceutical sales salary?

How much do pharma and specialty pharma reps earn? According to the 2016 Pharmaceutical Sales Salary Report, the average pharmaceutical sales salary is $122,107 (Median Total $115,000). Perhaps due to the increased complexity of the product, specialty pharma reps earn significantly more. The average specialty pharma sales salary is $138,150 (Median Total $125,000).

 Average Pharma Sales Salary

The good news is – the average salaries for both pharma and specialty pharma are up from 2015. The bad news is, pharma reps earn the lowest average incomes compared to the other product categories in the MedReps survey. Specialty reps were higher on the list but still in the bottom third. However, despite the relatively lower average incomes, pharma sales jobs are still heavily pursued by sales professionals hoping to break into healthcare sales.

About the Survey

Close to a third of this year’s survey respondents (803) noted that they sold Pharmaceutical or Specialty Pharmaceutical products. The average total income for the overall group was  $128,220.

In addition to income, the survey asked respondents about their job titles, their target customer, the type and size of their employers and more. Even factors such as gender, age, and ethnicity appear to have some correlations with pharma salaries.

Pharma Sales Salary Survey

Pharma Sales Salary by Job Title and Company Size

The majority of pharma and specialty pharma respondents work in field sales (80%) and for manufacturers (76%). The average pharmaceutical representative salary for those working in the field is $117,212. The average field sales rep salary for those in specialty pharma is $131,220. Pharma and specialty pharma sales professionals working in sales management and director or VP roles can earn up to an average of $200,455.

Pharma manufacturers typically pay more than distributors, and large and medium-sized manufacturers pay a higher average pharmaceutical sales representative salary than smaller ones.


Pharma Sales Salary by Age and Experience

As expected, pharma salaries increase with age and experience. Similar to what is true in other product categories, the most notable jump in average pharmaceutical sales salary can be seen after the 5 years of experience mark, and after the age of 30, suggesting pharma reps must pay their dues for several years before they are ready to earn top dollar.


Gender and Ethnicity in Pharmaceutical Sales

For many, when asked to imagine a pharma rep, an image of an attractive young woman with a rolling suitcase (and possibly, doughnuts) comes to mind. However, women only make up 38% of respondents selling pharma or specialty pharma products. With an average total income of $119,714, they earn just 90% of what their male peers command. While any discrepancy in pay is less than ideal, the pharma pay gap is smaller than what is seen in other product niches, and the gap is shrinking. Women earned just 86% of what men earned in 2015.

White sales professionals make up 78% of respondents in this category , while African American and Hispanic professionals make up 5.4% and 4.4% of respondents, respectively.


Pharmaceutical Sales Representative Salary by Travel and Location

Professionals who spend 50% or more of the time traveling with their pharma sales jobs earn significantly more money than those who travel less or not at all. Professionals traveling half of the time report the highest average incomes.

Where respondents live may also have an impact on average pharmaceutical sales salary. The states with the highest reported average incomes are Connecticut ($150,556), Iowa ($142,273), and Alabama ($142,200). However, the number of respondents in these states was too low to accurately reflect what a pharmaceutical sales representative would earn. Among the states with the highest number of respondents, New York reported the highest earnings.


Year-Over-Year Pharmaceutical Representative Salary

The year-over-year average pharmaceutical sales salary shows a 3% increase, slightly less of an increase than we’ve seen in recent year’s past, but not significantly so.

At the individual level, 82% of pharma and specialty pharma respondents received a pay increase, with an average increase of 5.3%.



Although pharma sales salaries are on the lower end of the healthcare sales spectrum, the figures are still impressive by most standards. Pharmaceutical sales jobs come with other perks too, including company cars or car allowances (94%), expense accounts (78%), stock options(35%), and more. All of this contributes to overall job satisfaction, which is relatively high among these respondents. A combined 80% say they are either very satisfied (32%) or somewhat satisfied (48%) with their pharmaceutical sales job.

With a solid income and plenty of perks, it’s easy to see why pharma sales jobs continue to be highly sought-after among medical sales jobs.


View Previous Pharmaceutical Sales Salary Reports

2015 Pharmaceutical Sales Salary Report
2014 Pharmaceutical Sales Salary Report
2013 Pharmaceutical Sales Salary Report
2012 Pharmaceutical Sales Salary Report
2011 Pharmaceutical Sales Salary Report


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