What Are You Worth?

In the last two issues of Next Wave, Doug Treen has provided some insight into working for biotechnology start-up companies and some tips on evaluating the right size company for you. But how do you know what you are worth to your biotech employer before you begin? The latest salary survey from the Biotechnology Human Resource Council (BHRC) and Personnel Systems might give you an idea and perhaps some leverage when you are negotiating your position. The most recent CompINSIGHT Biotechnology Compensation and Benefits Survey for 2000/01 is designed to provide access to information on compensation levels, incentive plans, and benefits packages offered to Canadians in over 100 benchmark jobs in the biotechnology sector. The survey is also intended to be a guide for recruitment managers.

Small biotech firms comprise about two-thirds of the commercial biotech sector in Canada. Since Next Wave last reported the last survey results 2 years ago, considerable increases in salary have been observed in the industry, primarily in management positions. Executive management positions in Canada experienced a massive 20% increase in salary levels in the last 2 years, while other management positions witnessed an average increase of 10% in salary. The research category constitutes approximately 35% of biotechnology jobs, yet salary increases in the last 2 years remained relatively flat, with most research positions maintaining their annual base salary increases of 3.5 %. Exceptions in this category were senior research scientists, who appear to be in short supply and high demand; their salaries were on the rise with an average increase of 14%, with the average salary being close to $79,000 (excluding stock options) in 2000.




Research Manager

Ph.D. + 6-8 years


Research Scientist

Junior Level

Ph.D. + 2-3 years


Intermediate Level

Ph.D. + 4-6 years


Senior Level

Ph.D. + 6-8 years


Expert Level

Ph.D. + 8-10 years


Research Technician

Junior Level

Diploma + 1-2 years


Intermediate Level

Diploma + 2-4 years


Senior Level

Diploma + 4-6 years


(Survey data courtesy of CompINSIGHT Biotechnology Compensation and Benefits Survey, Copyright 2001)

According to Heather Mohr, sector intelligence manager at the BHRC, higher salaries and other rewards for researchers have not increased as dramatically as those for other biotech positions in recent years and supply and demand appear to be the main issues. Mohr explained that while research-oriented positions occupy the largest segment of biotechnology employment, there appears to be a good supply of individuals with the requisite scientific skills and training to meet the increasing demand for technicians and research scientists. "When there is an adequate supply of skilled workers, salary rates don't creep up as much," she said. She added that researchers should not be discouraged by the latest survey results as demand for them in biotech companies is continually on the rise, judging in part by the increasing numbers of research and development positions the BHRC's job advertising service has witnessed in the last 2 years.

Another factor in the salary discrepancies is that as fledgling biotech companies make the transition from research to product commercialization, the need for managers with commercial skills, rather than scientific, increases. According to the new survey results, Canadian companies are increasingly turning south of the border to look for skilled individuals with global marketplace experience. Higher salaries and lower taxes in the U.S. are forcing management salaries in Canada to rise dramatically in order to compete. While the pressure on salaries from south of the border could be viewed as good news for some, those in research will likely have to wait for increased pressure on supply in Canada in order for the industry to review it's compensation policies.

Other BHRC surveys pertaining to the biotechnology industry include: Engineering Work in Canada: Biotechnology, Software Development, and Information Technology and Biotech Human Resource Trends and Projections

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