9 Best Paying MBA in Pharmaceutical Careers

The pharmaceutical sector is one of the largest industries in the world and it is growing. It is believed that the revenues from prescription drug sales alone is as much as $1 trillion per year. Furthermore, the middle class around the world, and particularly in India and China, needs more and more drugs, which means that the industry is not just growing but also globalizing.

With an MBA in Pharmaceuticals, you can make a true mark on both healthcare and the pharma industry. There had been a significant slump during the recession, but talented managers are now finding jobs in the pharmaceutical industry in their thousands. In fact, it is believed that demand by far outweighs supply. This means that employment opportunities can be found across the industry.

Research was completed by QS in 2012, which showed that companies are now hiring 18% more MBA graduates around the world and this percentage is projected to grow. Additionally, according to GMAC, the division between management and consulting jobs is now almost 50/50.

Because more and more pharmaceutical giants are looking for MBA graduates as permanent staff rather than consultants, salaries have grown massively as well. The average salary for someone with an MBA is now $100,000 per year and most will also receive bonuses of around $22,000 per year. This means that the potential for earnings is actually higher in the pharmaceutical industry than in banking or financial services.

As such, it is good news for MBA degree holders. While nobody is guaranteed a job, and certainly not a job at top management level, opportunities are out there. Below are what we believe to be the 9 best paying MBA in Pharmaceutical careers.

1. Regulatory Affairs Associate

As a regulatory affairs associate, you will have a scientific background but no interest in working inside a lab. Essentially, your responsibility will be around completing necessary pieces of paperwork that ensure compliance with global regulations. Additionally, you will communicate constantly with different agencies, resolving issues and having questions answered. With an MBA in Pharmaceutical, it is likely that you will also be involved in setting the company’s regulatory strategy. According to Payscale, the average salary for a Regulatory Affairs Associate is $63,628 per year.

2. Biostatistician

Biostatisticians prepare the plans of analysis for clinical studies. They also design and develop figures and tables that present information in an easy to understand manner. Furthermore, they interpret data and write elements within clinical reports in relation to the statistics and data that were gathered. Biostatistician positions are only available for the most highly educated, with many entry level positions requiring a Ph.D. However, some positions also exist for those with an MBA, particularly if they work in smaller divisions and report to the head of these divisions. According to Salary.com, the average annual salary for these professionals is $74,353.

3. Clinical Data Manager

Clinical data managers supervise every aspect surrounding clinical information. They decide what metrics will be collected and how. They also ensure the data is standardized so that internal operations are able to understand them and external reports can be drafted. According to Indeed.com, their average annual salary is $58,000.

4. Market Research Analyst

Market research analysts are charged with collecting and analyzing data that is able to support the marketing of pharmaceutical products at all points during their life cycle. These include before and during the launch, and once a product is fully established. They are responsible for the design of research studies and help to conduct these, after which they analyze the data that they were able to receive. Their responsibility is also around reporting the findings of this research to management and make recommendations for the business as a whole. Usually, they will work hand in hand with product managers in order to properly market and research individual products. Indeed.com reports that the average salary for a pharmaceutical market research analyst is $87,000 per year.

5. Product Manager

Usually, in the pharmaceutical industry, people would start working as associate product managers. They are responsible for implementing and coordinating drug and audience campaigns. They have to do some strategic thinking, but most of their job is highly practical, such as writing press releases, liaising with advertising agencies, attending conventions and more. Those who hold an MBA in Pharmaceutical, however, may enter the position as a full product manager rather than an associate.

Product managers guide the various associates and other team members in identifying issues such as drug distribution, price, forecasting and strategy, as well as creating a brand image for a new drug. Essentially, they have to learn about every element of every single drug that their company makes and they have to be able to deal with the possibility that, after all of that, the company may decide not to run it. However, the position is also incredibly dynamic and profitable and most see it as a hugely exciting career. When working for a large pharmaceutical company such as Novartis, a product manager can earn as much as $119,147 per year, or $130,376 with bonuses, according to Glassdoor.

6. Strategy Director

The strategy directors of a pharmaceutical company ensure the commercial potential of a therapeutic area or product is maximized as much as possible. They perform both qualitative and quantitative assessments of treatment trends and diseases, as well as looking for new opportunities to expand their share in the market and become more competitive. Usually, they work hand in hand with business development, marketing analytics and finance. According to Glassdoor, a strategic director for a large pharmaceutical company like Novartis would earn around $144,081 per year before bonuses.

7. Business Development Manager

Business development managers will look at whether new business opportunities are viable and how these align with the product divisions within and overall strategies of the pharmaceutical company they work for. They look at possibilities for in- and out-licensing, joint ventures and other collaborative deals. The perfect candidate for this job must have particularly strong analytical skills. It is not uncommon for an organization to look for people who hold a Ph.D. for this role. In a large pharmaceutical organization like Novartis, a business development manager could earn $86,000 per year according to CareerBliss.

8. Sales Representative

A huge element of the entire pharmaceutical industry is in sales. Indeed, a very large proportion of its overall workforce is involved in this element of the business. Their role is essentially to make sure hospitals, physicians, HMOs, clinics and other medical institutions choose drugs manufactured by the company they work for. Selling to doctors is generally referred to as ‘detailing,’ most often because the sales people will use various visual aids in their pitch.

There are different categories of sales people within the pharmaceutical industry. These mainly refer to the type of medical institutions they sell to. As such, they serve specialty physicians, PCPs (primary care physicians), managed care companies, or hospital physicians. Some, but not many, focus specifically on pharmacies. These specialties also define the territories in which a salesperson works, including the geographical location. Usually, they will have a type of rota that determines how often they visit each medical facility they work with. Visits could be anything from two weeks to four months apart, although it is not uncommon for these visits to be more frequent with completely new drugs or with high volume prescription products.

Usually, sales representatives are accountable to the district manager, which is also where the higher salary prospects are. Most people enter the workforce as sales reps, then work towards their MBA and then get promoted to become district managers. Others, however, prefer staying in the sales representative field because of the perks. They often have to travel frequently, will receive a company car and can earn significant bonuses. According to Payscale, the average salary for a sales rep before bonuses, perks and incentives is $68,092 per year. District managers earn significantly more, particularly if they are employed for a large pharmaceutical company. A Novartis district manager will earn an average of $142,376 per year, or $176,950 including bonuses according to Glassdoor.

9. CEO

The ultimate job for someone with an MBA in Pharmaceutical is CEO. However, not everybody aspires for this position, as it is very competitive and, while well paid. It is also a job that comes with high levels of stress and responsibility. It is, however, the best paid job of all for someone with an MBA in this field. As the CEO of a pharmaceutical company, you will oversee absolutely everything, from the development of the concept of a new job to the marketing and sales. CEOs have to ensure all products are fully compliant with regulations, that the brand of the product is developed properly, that it meets international standards and more. A report from Fierce Pharma stated that the highest earning pharmaceutical CEO in 2011 was William Weldon from Johnson & Johnson, who earned $26.7 million.