Pharma and Biotech Salaries in 2024: Who Makes the Most and Where are the Jobs?

The pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors are powerhouses of innovation, constantly pushing the boundaries of medicine. Naturally, these fields offer exciting career paths. But with a diverse range of roles, where does the big money lie? And where are the hottest job markets? Our analysis provides a comprehensive picture of 2024 US pharma and biotech salaries and job markets, guiding you towards new opportunities and locations.

Top Earners by Job Title:
Median salaries in pharma and biotech

  • Director & Associate Director Roles: Leadership reigns supreme in terms of compensation. These high-level positions across various functions, such as health economics or external data governance, often require advanced degrees (MD, PhD) or significant industry experience. The average top-end salary in this category surpasses $230,000, reflecting the critical decision-making and strategic direction these roles provide.

  • Senior & Project Management Roles: Those overseeing drug development and clinical trials can expect to earn well too. With a median maximum salary exceeding $165,000, these roles play a vital part in bringing new treatments from concept to reality. They require strong leadership, organizational skills, and the ability to manage complex projects effectively.

  • Research Scientist & Specialist Roles: While demand for skilled researchers and specialists remains high, salaries in this category tend to be lower than leadership positions. The median maximum salary sits around $120,000. Interestingly, we highlight a gap between data scientist salaries in biopharma compared to their counterparts in the tech sector, where they can command significantly higher salaries (over $400,000).

Top Hiring Companies:

Several companies with a high volume of job postings in 2024 include:

  • Large, Established Pharmaceutical Companies: Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD), AbbVie, Takeda Pharmaceutical, Novo Nordisk, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma
  • Biotechnology Companies: Thermo Fisher Scientific, BridgeBio, Amgen, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Daiichi Sankyo
  • Smaller or Niche Firms: Systems Ally, QuVa Pharma, Catalent, Novitium Pharma, ICL Group, W20 Group, Jubilant HollisterStier Spokane
    Top hiring companies

Other Job Titles and Salary Ranges:

  • Research Associate Roles: These entry-to-mid-level positions offer a stepping stone into the industry and provide valuable research experience. Salaries in this category fall roughly in the middle of the data set, with a median maximum nearing $100,000.

  • Scientist & Microbiologist Positions: Spanning a range of specialties and seniority levels, these roles offer a median maximum salary close to $96,000. The specific salary range will depend on factors like experience, area of expertise, and the type of employer (large pharmaceutical company vs. smaller biotech startup).

  • Specialists and Technicians: This diverse category encompasses a wide variety of roles, from quality control technicians to business development specialists. Consequently, the salary range is the widest in the data set, with some roles exceeding $115,000 and others starting as low as $35,000. Understanding the specific skills and experience required for each role is crucial for evaluating salary expectations.
    Word cloud based on more than 3,300 job titles

Job Hotspots in the US:

  • The Northeast Corridor: While Massachusetts experienced job cuts in 2024, the broader Northeast region remains a major hub for pharma and biotech. New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania combined offer a significant number of job listings, exceeding those in Massachusetts by 60%. This established region boasts a wealth of research institutions, established pharmaceutical companies, and a deep talent pool.

  • Emerging Hubs: Beyond the traditional strongholds, new hubs are attracting a growing number of biopharma jobs. Locations like Southern Illinois, San Francisco Bay Area, Southern California, and the Research Triangle in North Carolina are seeing an increase in opportunities. These areas often offer a lower cost of living compared to the Northeast Corridor, making them attractive to both employers and job seekers.

  • Secondary Markets: While the concentration of jobs may be lower, opportunities still exist in cities like Seattle, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Kansas City, Tampa, and Baton Rouge. These markets can be a good option for professionals seeking apotentially lower cost of living or a more specific research focus.

Demand for Senior Roles:

Our analysis reveals a strong demand for senior-level talent across the industry. Job postings heavily feature titles like “Manager” and “Senior,” appearing over 500 times each. “Director” roles are also prevalent, with nearly 400 mentions. This highlights the need for experienced professionals who can provide leadership, guidance, and mentorship to junior team members.
Most frequent roles in biopharma job titles
Most common bigrams in job titles

Top-Paying Locations:

Salary data isn’t always available in job postings, but the information suggests that San Francisco Bay Area, Boston/Cambridge, New York City/New Jersey, and San Diego offer the highest salaries. These regions boast positions exceeding $300,000, particularly in leadership roles, specialized expertise areas like bioinformatics, and for positions requiring in-demand skills like toxicology or immunology.


Our analysis offers valuable insights for both job seekers and employers in the US pharma and biotech industry. By understanding salary trends and job locations, professionals can make informed career decisions, whether they prioritize high-paying leadership roles in established hubs or research opportunities in emerging markets. Employers can leverage this information to develop competitive compensation packages to attract and retain top talent in a competitive industry.

Posted July 2024.

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