Compensation of Executives in the Pharmaceutical Industry

by Eric Strauss

Pharmaceutical companies develop and manufacture medicines designed to prevent people from getting sick, treat symptoms and cure illnesses. Rising to the top of the industry can be very lucrative, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that almost all types of executives average a six-figure paycheck.

Management Overview

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 27,300 people working in management occupations in the pharma industry as of May 2012. General and operations managers were the most common type of executive with 4,860 positions, or 18 percent of the total. Other common executive positions included those in charge of natural sciences work, with 4,580 positions; and industrial production managers, with 4,500 positions.

Chief Executives

The best-paid executives in the pharmaceutical industry are the chief executives responsible for running the drug companies. The BLS reports that the 880 CEOs in pharmaceutical manufacturing earned an average of $211,820 a year as of May 2012 -- the top average salary of anyone in the entire industry.

Top Managers

Marketing managers responsible for promoting the drug companies' products earned an average of $142,570 a year as of May 2012, according to the BLS. That was the second-highest income reported for management positions. Medical and health services managers earned the next-highest average salaries, at $142,210. Among jobs with the most positions, sales managers averaged $136,050, while general and operations managers averaged $139,000. Industrial production managers averaged $113,250 a year, information systems leaders averaged $132,600, engineering managers earned an average of $141,130, and financial managers averaged $137,950.

Lowest-Paid Executives

The BLS reports that the only management position that did not average at least $100,000 a year belonged to transportation, storage and distribution managers, who averaged $94,000 a year. Other comparatively low-paid executives included those in charge of administrative services, who earned $106,710 on average; and purchasing managers, who averaged $108,200. Advertising and promotions executives earned $113,810 a year on average.

About the Author

Eric Strauss spent 12 years as a newspaper copy editor, eventually serving as a deputy business editor at "The Star-Ledger" in New Jersey before transitioning into academic communications. His byline has appeared in several newspapers and websites. Strauss holds a B.A. in creative writing/professional writing and recently earned an M.A. in English literature.

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