Good news for drug reps: Pay is growing again. Bad? Biotech outclasses pharma by 36%

It's a difficult time to be a pharma rep, with patent losses triggering salesforce cuts and doctors increasingly closing their doors to sales visits. Pharma reps' salaries are floundering, too, with their biotech peers collecting much larger pay packages, according to a recent report from

MedReps surveyed more than 3,000 medical sales reps, including pharma, specialty pharma and biotech. The results? Pharma reps earn an average of $116,334 annually, while their biotech counterparts collect $157,865. That's 36% more for biotech reps. Specialty pharma sales folks split the difference, with an average of $134,414 in yearly income. Sales reps in healthcare and IT beat them all at $169,881, but that's another story.

Unsurprisingly, higher-ups in drug sales--pharma and specialty pharma together--collect more than frontline reps. Sales directors and VPs collect $217,629, while sales managers earn about $168,456 each year, MedReps reports. And the majority of respondents, or pharma sales reps, bring home $121,017 annually.

Robyn Melhuish

But gender also affects how much a salesperson takes home each year, with men out-earning their female counterparts by 14%. Only one in 6 sales directors or sales VPs is a woman, the MedReps report notes, and only one out of every 7 sales manager positions is held by a woman. Unlike sales people in other medical fields--where base salaries are pretty much on par, gender-wise--in the drug world, men's base salaries are higher than women's, because so many more men are in management.

"It's disheartening," Robyn Melhuish, communications manager at, told FiercePharmaMarketing. "It's the fifth year that we've done this and it's pretty consistent that women are earning less. The higher-earning job titles are more likely to be held by men."

Overall, pay packages have increased, though. The average total pharma pay package in 2015 jumped 5% to $124,622 from $119,053 in 2014, a promising number as reps recover from a dip in salary in 2013. That year, reps only took home about $114,361 in average total pay. And the trend isn't going away anytime soon, MedReps notes, as employees continue to vie for sought-after sales jobs and look for opportunities for long-term career growth in a solid field.

- here's MedReps' report
- read the pharma results