2021 Pharmaceutical Sales Salary Report

Pharmaceutical Sales Salary Report

“How much do pharmaceutical sales representatives make?”


Every year, MedReps conducts a survey to answer this question and more: 

“What size company pays the highest pharmaceutical rep salary?” 

“How much commission do pharmaceutical sales jobs pay?”

“How does travel impact pharmaceutical sales salaries?”

“How does location, age, and gender impact pharmaceutical sales earnings?” 

Last year, we asked pharmaceutical sales representatives their predictions for how the global crisis would impact the future of medical sales. We were not surprised to find that the majority of reps (75%) said they expected the pandemic to negatively impact their 2020 earnings.

This year, we have great news to report!

2021 Pharmaceutical Sales Salary Key Findings:

  • Small pharma companies are growing more competitive, paying out the highest commissions 
  • – Pharmaceutical field sales representatives see a nearly $7,000 increase in average total compensation
  • Time in the pharma sales industry correlates to a steady climb in compensation
  • – Women earn 95% of what men earn – placing pharmaceutical sales jobs closer to parity than most other product categories 

While 2020 presented unique challenges to meeting commissions goals, pharmaceutical sales companies rose to support pharma reps through the pandemic. Pharmaceutical reps reported higher base salaries and more benefits than the previous year. While the majority of those in pharmaceutical sales jobs expected to earn less in 2002, only 14% of respondents reported taking home a lower income.

The greatest impact on total average commission was in the area of travel. However, pharmaceutical sales representatives who travel 50% of the time (the highest-earning reps) reported base salary increases of nearly $16,000, well exceeding lost compensation in commissions.

Pharmaceutical sales representatives also saw progress toward gender parity. Women report earning 95% of what men take home in the industry, nearly closing the gap in base salary and commission.

It pays to climb the ladder in pharmaceutical sales companies. Sales directors and sales VPs took home a base salary approximately $35,000 greater than field pharmaceutical reps’ total average compensation. Longevity in the field of pharma sales also equals a steady and steep increase in pay.

The pandemic has inspired a new appreciation for health insurance and family-friendly policies, and pharmaceutical sales companies meet the mark, offering robust benefits in areas like paternity leave, health coverage and 401K contributions.

Overall, job and income satisfaction is high and pharmaceutical sales representatives are hopeful. Half feel the pandemic will not impact their income in 2021, and 8% say it will have a positive impact. 

Check out our full findings below to learn more about how you can develop a successful pharmaceutical sales career:

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