Pharma rep pay scrapes the bottom of the medical sales barrel

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Pharma reps, we have some good news and some bad news. The good: Starting salaries in your field are among the top 10 for entry-level jobs this year. The not so good: Once again, your pay ranks lowest among U.S. medical sales folks.

According to an annual report from MedReps, pharma sales reps did have a higher base pay than some in the business--at almost $91,000, on average--but adding bonuses brought totals to a tad more than $122,000. And that’s lower than the rest of the pack.

Specialty pharma reps earned slightly more, with base pay of almost $99,000 and total compensation of $138,000. But these reps were still in the bottom third of medical salespeople overall.

But at the top of the list--again--were biotech reps. They boasted the highest base pay--almost $108,000--and average total pay topped $165,000.

Of course, it pays to be a manager: Pharma reps on the lower rungs of the ladder racked up $107,000 on average, whereas sales directors rated more than $200,000 on average. It also paid to be a man: Women earned about 12% less than men, with $119,700 in average pay.

Across the medical reps spectrum, the difference was even larger--20%--for a couple of reasons. Women were more likely to work in pharma, which we now know puts them at a pay disadvantage industrywide. They also tended to work as reps rather than as managers or sales directors, the MedReps survey found.

Meanwhile, in a separate report, pharma reps ranked 6th among the top 10 entry-level jobs, judged by compensation. With a starting salary of $55,000, sales reps came in just behind financial analysts--at $57,000--and just ahead of software developers and their $52,000 entry level salary.

- get the MedReps pharma pay survey
- check out MedReps’ survey of medical reps overall
- see the starting salary report

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Photo by Michael Koolman under Creative Commons License via Flickr