Industry Optimism Outweighs Personal Job Security

Published on: 
Pharmaceutical Technology, Pharmaceutical Technology-12-02-2013, Volume 37, Issue 12

Pharmaceutical Technology's 2013 Employment Survey reveals some optimism for the industry's future performance, but ongoing concerns about individual job prospects.

Amid the environment of a gradual economic recovery and continued consolidation of bio/pharmaceutical companies, scientists, technicians, and professionals involved in drug development expressed a mix of muted optimism and stagnant employment options. Readers of Pharmaceutical Technology shared their perspectives on the current employment situation in the magazine’s annual employment survey. The respondents represent a cross section of small- and large-molecule drug development functions from facilities in North America, Europe, and other locations. Approximately 60% of the respondents held advanced degrees, divided evenly between Master’s and doctorate degrees.

In 2013, more than half of the respondents said they were involved in a merger, acquisition, downsizing, or restructuring. This represents a significant jump from 2012, when 36.1% of survey participants experienced similar company changes. This activity could be a reason for the slight pullback in confidence in job security.

In the past two years, have you been through a merger, acquisition, down-sizing, or restructuring?








Since 2010, confidence in job security has trended upward. Four years ago, 53% of the respondents said they were less secure in their position versus the previous year. In 2013, only 37.4% said they were less secure compared to 2012.  However, more respondents felt less secure in their positions in 2013 compared to 2012, illustrating a slight drop in job security confidence.

Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed (63.3%) reported a salary increase in 2013. While 43% said they were paid fairly, almost 35% said their compensation was at the lower range of market value. Nearly 20% said they were paid below market value.  More than half reported an increase in the cost of health insurance.

Does your salary reflect a change over last year’s salary?






No change



Rate your satisfaction with your current salary (for your level of expertise and responsibility).

I am paid excessively


I am paid fairly


I am paid within market value, but at the low end of the range


I am paid below market value



However, respondents cited other factors as important to job satisfaction with challenging projects, intellectual stimulation, or good work/life balance as “the main reason I come to work.”

Work/life balance and salary were the two most important reasons respondents would change jobs, followed by job security and professional advancement. More than half were confident that they could find a job comparable to the one they currently hold, although 42% said it would take some time to locate a suitable position.

While respondents had some reservations about prospects for their own positions, they were more optimistic about business prospects for their organizations and the overall bio/pharmaceutical industry. Nearly 60% predicted business prospects for their company will improve in 2014, a jump of 11 percentage points over 2012. The percent of respondents who thought business would decline dropped from 18.1% in 2012 to 13.1% in 2013.

When considering the outlook for the overall bio/pharmaceutical market in the short- and long-term, 54.3% of the respondents predicted that business will improve, versus less than 6% who expect a decline in business. Interestingly, more survey participants expect business to improve overseas but not domestically (16.5%), versus those that expect improved conditions domestically, but not overseas (2.9%).

In evaluating the capabilities of new hires in the bio/pharmaceutical industry, 79% of those surveyed said the new employees were adequately trained, but not exceptional. More than 13% said the new hires were poorly trained.

1. 2013 Pharmaceutical Technology Employment Survey.

Note: Due to rounding, some percentages may not add up to 100%. Some questions allowed multiple answers.