In 2017, Clinical Trials Arena conducted its first ever salary survey, with the aim of gauging the current state of the life sciences jobs market. Over 200 industry professionals took part in the study, all of whom were attendees of Arena International’s global series of clinical events. Insight from respondents across the world allowed CTA to glean where professions in the life sciences are heading, as well as what individuals look for in both their current roles and when they seek new challenges.

We would like to take this opportunity to extend our deepest thanks to all those who participated in our survey. It is one of the only salary surveys specific to the life sciences industry that looks to provide invaluable data for both hiring managers and industry professionals. The survey opens the door to greater salary transparency, providing a snapshot of what you can expect to earn relative to your skills, experience and location. The results illustrate and confirm the ongoing growth and success of careers within the life sciences industry.

Who are the Respondents?

To provide a backdrop in which this study was conducted, below is an overview of the sample of respondents.

Participants by Sector

In terms of sector breakdown, 50 percent of the roughly 200 participants were found to work in the pharmaceutical industry. Biotech follows at 28 percent, with 19 percent of participants from medical device companies.

Gender Representation

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In what has been considered a largely male-dominated industry, it’s perhaps surprising to learn the majority of survey participants were in fact female. Indeed, 62 percent were women while 38 percent were men. Regionally, our U.S.-based participants were mostly male whereas U.K., Europe and Canada-based participants were female professionals.

Participants by Location

A large proportion of respondents came from the U.S. with 60 percent. Europe came in second with 16 percent. The Rest of the World came in third, with 9 percent of respondents coming from the U.K.

Participants by Job Role

A majority of participants were clinical research professionals, while jobs in Project Management and Research & Development were also popular.

Remuneration – Just How Much Are People Earning?

Overall Salary Levels

Overall results from the salary survey indicate a majority of participants have high base salaries. The U.S. and the Rest of the World participants largely have a base salary of $100,000 (USD) and above. Similarly for U.K.-based participants, the survey showed industry professionals mostly earn over £52,000. Lower base salary levels seemed to correlate with those who have only just started out in their careers, suggesting that while there is an opportunity for progression within the industry, there is also the potential for growth in earnings.

Benefits and Bonuses

Over two-thirds of clinical professionals claimed to receive benefits and bonuses from their company. Results indicated that the base salary level is not an indicator for bonus qualification, and is more dependent upon company structure. This demonstrates that companies within the life sciences predominantly integrate a benefit-bonus structure for their staff.

Education, Qualification and Career History

In order to gain a greater understanding of the jobs market, participants were asked about their highest academic qualification, as well as the amount of experience they’ve garnered throughout their career.


Results from the question regarding each participant’s highest academic qualification suggested pursuing further education — beyond a Bachelor’s degree — is not a requirement for career progression. While 37 percent of participants have a Bachelor’s degree, 26 percent have a Master’s. Interestingly, CTA’s findings showed respondents who were found to be at the same base salary level with differing qualifications..

Career History

Further analysis of the salary survey demonstrated a correlation between participants’ years of experience and the position they held within their company. For example, findings showed individuals with over 16 years’ experience all receive over $100,000 (USD) as a base salary.

Job Satisfaction and Job Security

Job satisfaction was a key focus of this survey as it provided an insight into job security. Over half of participants said they were ‘satisfied’ with their job while 35 percent of participants said they were ‘very satisfied.’ This supports the result that 70 percent of participants are not likely to leave their current position within the next year. Lastly, 22 percent of participants said they were highly likely to leave, while 8 percent found the question did not apply to them.


The outlook for life sciences jobs market appears buoyant and optimistic. Results from the salary survey portray the industry to be one that is very accepting of individuals of both genders, from different educational backgrounds, from different parts of the world, and of varying levels of experience.

The results also confirm that the majority of professionals are satisfied with their position, and do not see themselves leaving in the next year, suggesting stability within the industry. If you are an industry professional you are in a great place! Deepest thanks to all our survey participants.


Report written by Shahana Chowdhury

Edited by Henry Kerali

Graphics by Henrik Williams