Putting the $ Back in $alary

Optimism characterizes this year's salary survey respondents, who are reaping the benefits of an improved economy and increased sales.

Kassandra Kania, Managing Editor

Results of PMP News' fifth annual salary survey indicate that hard times are improving and that many employees are enjoying a healthy compensation.

The survey shows an average annual salary of $88,500—an increase of $9100 over last year's average and almost double the increase between 2001 and 2002. (The average salaries for 2001 and 2002 are based on different sets of respondents.) More than half of this year's respondents earn $75,000 or more per year, and only 8% earn less than $50,000.

Whereas many respondents to last year's survey felt that the economic slowdown would have a negative impact on their income, a number of this year's respondents feel that the economy is improving, as will their personal compensation in the year ahead. "An improvement in the economy could have a positive effect on my compensation," says one respondent. Increased growth in the market will result in "more business, more profit, more profit sharing," says another.

"High unemployment rates have resulted in employers who are less concerned about employees leaving," comments a third. "Improvement in the economy should lower unemployment, forcing employers to be more competitive with raises."

In terms of raises, 86% of respondents indicated that they have received a raise from their current employer. Among those, the average increase was 5.3%. Of the 86% who received raises, 84% indicated that the increase was not the result of a promotion and/or change in job responsibilities.

WHAT'S NEW?

A significant number of respondents cited the development of new products as having a positive effect on their salary in the coming year. "I am involved with all new products, so I need to keep up with packaging designs and validations," says one respondent.

Many see technological advances as having a direct bearing on the development of new packaging, and therefore, their jobs. "As the industry focuses more and more on innovation, research, and development in new technologies, more need will exist for scientists with MBA degrees," says one respondent who is currently studying at DeSales University– MBA program. Another notes that "as automated QA technology improves, my responsibility, quality, and efficiency in production is affected," and "new on-line, in-process quality verification increases productivity."

Continued growth of the generics market was another oft-cited factor influencing employees' compensation; however, most respondents did not indicate whether the effect would be positive or negative. According to one respondent, "the increasing push toward generic products will continue healthy salaries." But for those whose companies face expiring patents, the impact is more likely to be negative: "The influx of generic competition [is] eroding sales dollars," says another respondent.

CONSOLIDATION

While many respondents are optimistic about the economy and the introduction of new drugs, industry consolidation is also cited as a hindrance to the growth of personal compensation. Some feel that mergers and acquisitions will have a leveling effect on their salaries. "Consolidation of manufacturing services leads to flat salaries over the next two years," writes a respondent.

Hand in hand with consolidation is a desire to cut costs—another factor that is curbing employees' increases. The reasons given for cost-cutting measures include government pressure to reduce drug prices and an increase in regulatory scrutiny. "Increased compliance costs will reduce profitability," says a respondent. Another indicated that "more regulation of development will negatively impact compensation."

Downsizing was a concern for some respondents: "Downsizing in biotech/ pharma is putting downward pressure on raise percentage and bonus pools," says one. "Downsizing of industry will limit bonus and benefits," says another. A third commented that "downsizing will make the number of people much greater than available jobs," resulting in "downward wage pressure."

JOB SATISFACTION

Although this year's respondents raised some of the same concerns as last year's, overall predictions for the upcoming year were more positive, and respondents appear to be satisfied with their positions. While 60% have remained loyal to their employers, having worked for only their current organization in the past five years, 40% have been employed by their present organization for 10 years or longer. In addition, 65% are not considering a new job outside their company at the present time. About a quarter of the respondents are strongly considering a new job search, and only 8% are actively looking for a job outside their organization.

METHODOLOGY

The data for this year's survey were obtained during a mail survey of PMP News subscribers. The survey was designed jointly by PMP News and Readex Inc. (St Paul, MN), and conducted June through July of this year. Surveys were mailed to 1200 domestic subscribers, representing 8499 packaging professionals who work for manufacturers of medical devices, pharmaceuticals, clinical diagnostics, and nutritional supplements.

The sample was limited to only those with one of these job functions: engineering, packaging design, production/manufacturing, QA/QC, and research and development. To ensure representation of key recipients only, known suppliers to the industry and those with job titles of administrative assistant, attorney, buyer, CEO, CFO, consultant, owner, president, purchaser, or secretary were manually omitted from the sample by the editors before the surveys were mailed.

Of the 1200 mailed surveys, 513 generated usable responses from subscribers, representing a response rate of 43%. Because usable returns were received from less than half the survey sample, the possibility exists that those who did not respond might have answered differently than those who did. Survey results should be interpreted with this in mind.

The results presented in this article are based on the feedback of the 430 respondents who indicated that they are involved with healthcare product packaging and work full time for one of the types of manufacturers listed above. These 430 individuals represent an estimated 7100 industry professionals.

The margin for error for percentages based on 430 usable responses is ±4.6% at the 95% confidence level. The margin of error for percentages based on smaller sample sizes—males or females, for example—will be larger.

The survey was conducted by Readex in accordance with accepted research standards and practices.

 

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