Earning Money in the Pharma Industry: What to Expect

Money Dollar Sign

Once you enter the pharma industry, there are various positions you can aim for. The industry is known for excellent pay at different levels. What you make essentially depends on the work you are doing.

There are numerous jobs in the pharma industry. As the trends in the pharma industry keep changing, so does the need for individuals in the field. Some of the top companies in this industry have a profit rate of 20%, which is far more than all other major industries.

According to the 2015 Pharm Science Strategic Outlook, the pharma industry sales are at the trillion-dollar mark. As the field continues to grow and make a large profit, job opportunities are also rising.

The need for vaccines has contributed to a change in pharma industry trends, and people are willing to enter the field due to the excellent profit rates and increased pay.

Does the Pharma Industry Pay Well?

Like any other industry, pharma has different pay for different levels of employment.


If you are entering the pharma industry, you can expect a salary anywhere between $30,000 to $60,000. This range is the average amount an entry-level chemical engineer makes in a year. The salary you receive also depends on the company you are working for.

Big pharma names like AstraZeneca might offer better pays compared to lesser-known, independent companies, but it truly varies from company to company. Similarly, if you are working in the research department, you can expect lesser pay than the chemical scientists.

As a graduate looking for an entry-level job, you should be aware that the salary you are offered also depends on the skills and qualities you have. If companies know you have more to offer to them and are a valuable asset, you can make good money.


As you grow in the pharma industry and cement your position, you are likely to get to a position that pays well. A senior chemical engineer can make upwards of $100,000, depending on their experience.

Once you prove yourself as someone who is working well in the pharma industry, you can take on more challenging roles and establish your position in any company. Like any other industry, experience and qualifications matter a lot when it comes to deciding pay in pharma.

People who have gained more experience and have more knowledge regarding the workings of pharma typically make the most money. All the understanding and application of everything they have learned allows companies to judge how much value they will add to the business.

Different Jobs in The Pharma Industry

It is not necessary that you need to be a scientist or chemical engineer to find a well-paying job in the pharma industry. There are numerous positions you can take at any pharma company. Let’s have a look at some of the best-paying jobs in pharma and what the position holds.

Biotechnology Senior Research Scientist

Becoming a biotechnology senior research scientist is not easy. However, people in this position earn an average of $107,000 per year. These scientists take part in managing research and findings, and also assess new technologies and their uses.

Biotechnology senior research scientists need to have a varied set of skills. They must handle project management as well as clinical research and bioinformatics. People with these skills can make it to the top level and earn far more than the median salary.

Research Scientist

Another well-paying job in pharma is a research scientist. These scientists make an average of $82,000 each year. To establish yourself at this top position, you need a host of skills and qualities.

A research scientist in the pharma industry has to stay up to date with all new developments in their field. They also have to send proposals for research funding. Research scientists working in the laboratory are required to have knowledge about carrying out experiments and excellent observational and analytical skills.

Pharmaceutical Field Sales Representative

Earning a median salary of around $84,000 per year, pharmaceutical field sales representatives are required to have experience in various areas. When you are a field sales representative in pharma, you must sell technical products from organizations.

As a pharmaceutical field sales representative, you must attend special training regarding services and products. Having extensive knowledge about the technical aspects of new products can help you excel in this position. These representatives are also required to maintain records of all the sales and leads that have been generated.

Pharmaceutical Outside Sales Representative

People who have excellent social skills along with sales experience are bound to excel as a pharmaceutical outside sales representative. These sales representatives earn a median salary of $50,000 each year. This position requires the representatives to make sales calls to existing and potential clients.

A pharmaceutical outside sales representative has to travel a lot to make sales calls and has to have knowledge about the latest products and services any pharma company is providing. Along with exceptional communication skills, these sales representatives need to be aware of their competitors’ sales and market conditions.

Can You Earn Money in the Pharma Industry?

From entry-level to senior positions, everyone working in the pharma industry has an excellent opportunity to make money. The money you earn depends on a lot of varying factors.

If you have the skills of a chemical engineer, you will earn more if you are in a position that enables you to use your skillset. The pay you get also depends on the pharma company you are working for and whether it is a large-scale or a small-scale company.

Overall, there are numerous ways to earn money in the pharma industry. Using your qualifications and experience in the right place can help you propel your career forward and open the doors to countless opportunities to earn money with the most prominent pharmaceutical firms.

Featured Jobs on BioSpace

Back to news