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life sciences

Interest in life sciences soared with the onset of the global pandemic, and there are no signs of that momentum slowing down — it certainly isn't about to return to pre-pandemic levels any time soon. Nor, for that matter, will companies in this space have an easy time of transitioning back to previous workforce norms.

Instead, with competition for top talent at a fever pitch, innovative approaches to talent strategy will be required simply to stay afloat, let alone thrive. Here's what's next for life sciences employers in 2022.

top talent is highly in demand — and equally hard to come by

The lack of qualified life sciences professionals in the job market at large isn't anything new. It's more like a long-term fact.

What is new, however, is the level of competition in the space, and the lengths to which established companies and start-ups alike will go in order to woo those with the right credentials. Or, for that matter, any credentials. Today, for example, even novice postdoctoral researchers — graduate students with four-to-six months of hands-on experience — are being poached by talent-hungry industry players and deployed in roles that would have once required two or three years of experience.

This isn't a temporary condition, either. In fact, if the current forecasts hold, then life sciences employment will grow at three times the rate of overall employment for the next five years. That means the fundamental mismatch between the available supply of qualified life sciences talent and employers' demand for it will only get worse.

In an environment like this, staying competitive will mean offering industry-leading salaries and benefits, along with perks like flexible or remote work.

flexibility is going to be key

Speaking of flexibility: The remote work arrangements brought on by the global pandemic weren't as disruptive to life sciences companies as many leaders feared they would be. In fact, by most accounts — and especially if you ask employees — they're working out just fine.

According to Deloitte, for example:

  • Nine out of 10 life sciences employees think overall productivity has held steady, despite the sudden shift to remote work arrangements.
  • These employees aren't eager to transition back to pre-pandemic norms: 64 percent say they would prefer to work in some form of hybrid model going forward.

Employers will need to heed these calls for flexibility. Those that don't, whether because they're unable or unwilling, will struggle mightily to secure the talent they need to continue to grow in 2022.

EDI&A becomes a bigger focus than ever

The push for companies across the board to be far more diligent and transparent around EDI&A has hit the life sciences space hard — and to a certain extent, that should come as no surprise.

After all, while the industry as a whole has made some measurable gains, moving the needle on EDI&A initiatives hasn't been the kind of highly publicized priority you see today in tech and many other fields. One survey, for example, found that:

  • Forty-four percent of life sciences employers haven't issued company-wide statements outlining their commitments and EDI&A.
  • Among those that have, less than one in four are even measuring their own progress over time.
  • Meanwhile, 78 percent have never recruited from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) or institutions that typically serve under-served populations.

In 2022, all that needs to change. Life sciences companies simply can't afford to overlook the strong link between EDI&A outcomes and employer brand perceptions, or how that influences retention and hiring in turn. And if inhouse HR teams aren't up to the challenge, leveraging the expertise of strategic partners will be the most viable workaround.

skill sets aren't keeping pace with tech

Digital transformation has taken the life sciences space by storm, enabling new products and treatments to move from R&D labs to real-world markets faster than ever. Underwriting that increased speed is increased investment, of course, with year-over-year spending on digital initiatives growing by 100 percent or more on an annual basis.

All of this points to boom times for life sciences companies, and accounts for the generally bearish outlook among organizational leadership. Yet the proliferation of new digital tools and technologies, while great for the bottom line, calls for employees to be equipped with new skill sets in turn. For bench scientists, for example, the ability to work fluidly with AI, data science or machine learning algorithms wasn't even part of the job requirement five years ago.

In response, life sciences companies would be wise to allocate significantly more budget to learning and development programs, and upskilling and reskilling initiatives in particular. Given the outsized impact of tech on the life sciences space specifically — and considering that the majority of HR professionals across industries now see "moderate to severe" skills gaps at their companies — the rationale for doing so should be clear. In an exceedingly competitive talent marketplace, it's simply going to be more cost-effective to develop and promote candidates from within than to try your luck sourcing qualified contributors from without.

Any life sciences company attempting to do the latter, in fact, will likely need a strategic partner for help.

takeaways

  • It takes years of education and training to become a qualified life sciences professional, and there simply aren't enough of them to go around. As the war for talent intensifies, expect salaries to grow at all levels within the life sciences space.
  • More flexible work arrangements are here to stay in the life sciences space. Why? For the simple reason that these high-value employees are demanding them. And while most appear willing to return to the lab or office for a few days at a time, this is an area where companies can't afford to take a hard line. Instead, life sciences companies should be ready to compromise to keep top talent on board.
  • Life sciences companies still have a long way to go when it comes to EDI&A — and they can't afford to continue to overlook the demonstrated link between EDI&A and employer brand perception, which powerfully influences retention and hiring outcomes in turn. Especially not in the current hiring market.
  • Digital transformation may have a firm foothold in the life sciences industry at large, but that doesn’t necessarily mean skill sets have kept pace. As life sciences workers grapple with new technologies, look for upskilling and reskilling to take center stage as organizational priorities in 2022.

national salaries

Let's review the salaries for entry-level, mid-level and senior-level positions.

clinical
clinical entry-level mid-level senior-level
biometrics
biostatistician $60,836 - $88,845 $88,845 - $109,999 $109,999 - $137,568
clinical data analyst $54,918 - $73,546 $73,546 - $85,428 $85,428 - $108,819
clinical data manager $52,686 - $68,806 $68,806 - $92,269 $92,269 - $121,805
clinical SAS programmer $63,488 - $76,384 $76,384 - $93,024 $93,024 - $122,528
clinical trial management and operations
clinical documentation specialist (eTMF) $44,096 - $57,846 $57,846 - $76,317 $76,317 - $96,044
clinical outsourcing manager $71,406 - $101,754 $101,754 - $137,946 $137,946 - $190,008
clinical project manager (CPM) $71,406 - $101,754 $101,754 - $137,946 $137,946 - $190,008
clinical research associate (CRA) $50,976 - $69,588 $69,588 - $116,345 $116,345 - $150,191
clinical trial associate (CTA) $54,918 - $70,368 $70,368 - $100,000 $100,000 - $125,024
clinical trial manager (CTM) $70,368 - $100,000 $100,000 - $125,024 $125,024 - $234,976
medical director $139,651 - $203,449 $203,449 - $287,689 $287,689 - $371,246
drug safety/pharmacovigilance
drug safety physician $91,499 - $126,277 $126,277 - $171,239 $171,239 - $251,728
drug safety specialist $58,822 - $76,336 $76,336 - $95,181 $95,181 - $112,840
medical monitor/reviewer $65,934 - $95,191 $95,191 - $139,614 $139,614 - $177,690
medical and scientific affairs
commercial trainer $45,885 - $62,691 $62,691 - $83,512 $83,512 - $107,058
medical affairs project manager $78,832 - $104,270 $104,270 - $139,651 $139,651 - $195,624
medical information specialist $44,096 - $60,159 $60,159 - $82,499 $82,499 - $119,518
medical science liaison $103,520 - $145,632 $145,632 - $171,692 $171,692 - $206,248
medical writing
document manager $35,360 - $44,907 $44,907 - $58,448 $58,448 - $74,672
editor/formatter $65,934 - $74,038 $74,038 - $89,544 $89,544 - $126,797
medical writer $80,032 - $95,008 $95,008 - $124,833 $124,833 - $154,421
quality control reviewer $41,616 - $62,017 $62,017 - $69,807 $69,807 - $107,883
quality, process and validation
process development engineer $74,720 - $90,016 $90,016 - $115,515 $115,515 - $141,729
quality assurance auditor $38,992 - $67,675 $67,675 - $109,999 $109,999 - $133,268
quality assurance specialist $65,208 - $84,011 $84,011 - $110,136 $110,136 - $140,462
quality control analyst $45,776 - $62,749 $62,749 - $75,095 $75,095 - $103,653
quality engineer $57,949 - $71,635 $71,635 - $111,363 $111,363 - $136,926
regulatory affairs
regulatory advertising and promotions associate $40,165 - $52,666 $52,666 - $71,094 $71,094 - $95,326
regulatory affairs CMC associate $52,016 - $60,016 $60,016 - $78,000 $78,000 - $104,048
regulatory affairs labeling associate $54,773 - $76,153 $76,153 - $109,999 $109,999 - $148,075
regulatory affairs operations associate $52,016 - $60,016 $60,016 - $78,000 $78,000 - $104,048
regulatory affairs publishing associate $35,360 - $48,499 $48,499 - $75,625 $75,625 - $97,307
regulatory affairs strategy associate $68,725 - $95,191 $95,191 - $121,633 $121,633 - $142,787
research and design systems
business analyst $57,184 - $72,480 $72,480 - $92,000 $92,000 - $119,584
clinical database programmer $54,059 - $71,906 $71,906 - $98,862 $98,862 - $126,880
clinical systems project manager $67,488 - $85,024 $85,024 - $115,449 $115,449 - $152,306
medical technologist $31,450 - $39,686 $39,686 - $54,184 $54,184 - $69,638
validation analyst $56,514 - $72,030 $72,030 - $93,725 $93,725 - $120,890
supply chain management
clinical trial supply manager $57,184 - $70,368 $70,368 - $100,000 $100,000 - $125,024
inventory management specialist $36,904 - $50,769 $50,769 - $63,461 $63,461 - $92,018
material documentation coordinator $35,360 - $44,907 $44,907 - $58,448 $58,448 - $74,672
packaging requirements specialist $50,769 - $72,980 $72,980 - $92,018 $92,018 - $111,056
scientific
scientific entry-level mid-level senior-level
chemical
analytical chemist $44,800 - $58,240 $58,240 - $82,499 $82,499 - $101,984
applications engineer $65,208 - $84,011 $84,011 - $110,136 $110,136 - $140,462
biochemical engineer $68,432 - $84,885 $84,885 - $108,534 $108,534 - $136,365
chemical engineer $68,432 - $84,885 $84,885 - $108,534 $108,534 - $136,365
compounder $38,002 - $48,506 $48,506 - $62,858 $62,858 - $80,766
formulator $49,816 - $67,297 $67,297 - $85,672 $85,672 - $118,460
laboratory manager $71,406 - $101,754 $101,754 - $137,946 $137,946 - $190,008
laboratory technician $36,275 - $46,342 $46,342 - $60,133 $60,133 - $74,613
materials engineer $57,970 - $73,944 $73,944 - $95,638 $95,638 - $123,594
metallurgist $57,970 - $73,944 $73,944 - $95,638 $95,638 - $123,594
plant manager $84,989 - $108,784 $108,784 - $141,294 $141,294 - $181,210
process engineer $68,432 - $84,885 $84,885 - $108,534 $108,534 - $136,365
product development chemist $58,074 - $79,310 $79,310 - $108,389 $108,389 - $139,651
product development scientist $54,309 - $73,445 $73,445 - $99,882 $99,882 - $130,437
quality control engineer $56,096 - $66,826 $66,826 - $83,028 $83,028 - $111,056
environmental science
elemental analyst $45,427 - $58,240 $58,240 - $76,750 $76,750 - $98,364
environmental engineer $55,453 - $70,262 $70,262 - $92,123 $92,123 - $118,955
environmental health and safety specialist $42,272 - $56,288 $56,288 - $88,032 $88,032 - $114,976
environmental microbiologist $45,698 - $58,802 $58,802 - $84,406 $84,406 - $119,766
environmental scientist $55,203 - $73,237 $73,237 - $98,114 $98,114 - $129,459
field monitor/sampler/tester $39,333 - $51,626 $51,626 - $67,101 $67,101 - $87,734
industrial hygienist $58,822 - $76,336 $76,336 - $95,181 $95,181 - $112,840
laboratory technician $35,901 - $46,862 $46,862 - $60,965 $60,965 - $80,538
nondestructive tester $49,808 - $54,192 $54,192 - $68,272 $68,272 - $90,032
quality assurance technologist $52,016 - $68,141 $68,141 - $76,153 $76,153 - $87,787
safety coordinator $42,272 - $56,288 $56,288 - $72,288 $72,288 - $88,032
water quality technician $35,901 - $48,736 $48,736 - $63,461 $63,461 - $92,018
food science
bioengineer $56,597 - $71,843 $71,843 - $92,622 $92,622 - $118,934
flavorist $41,246 - $54,309 $54,309 - $73,445 $73,445 - $99,882
food scientist $54,309 - $73,445 $73,445 - $99,882 $99,882 - $130,437
food technologist $54,309 - $73,445 $73,445 - $99,882 $99,882 - $130,437
HACCP compliance manager $48,506 - $65,372 $65,372 - $92,018 $92,018 - $127,979
microbiologist $45,698 - $58,802 $58,802 - $84,406 $84,406 - $119,766
process engineer $72,032 - $85,024 $85,024 - $104,033 $104,033 - $125,024
project manager $71,456 - $95,008 $95,008 - $124,832 $124,832 - $160,096
formulation and drug development
analytical chemist $44,970 - $58,074 $58,074 - $79,310 $79,310 - $108,389
microbiologist $45,698 - $58,802 $58,802 - $84,406 $84,406 - $119,766
molecular/cell biologist $46,784 - $57,472 $57,472 - $74,912 $74,912 - $109,088
research assistant $31,096 - $39,250 $39,250 - $51,182 $51,182 - $69,807
research associate $61,344 - $81,248 $81,248 - $125,024 $125,024 - $175,072
research scientist $72,218 - $95,347 $95,347 - $126,818 $126,818 - $157,726
personal care
cosmetic chemist $44,970 - $58,074 $58,074 - $79,310 $79,310 - $108,389
formulation scientist $58,074 - $79,310 $79,310 - $112,725 $112,725 - $153,364
fragrance technician $28,165 - $37,019 $37,019 - $46,357 $46,357 - $68,749
organic chemist $44,970 - $58,074 $58,074 - $79,310 $79,310 - $108,389
product development manager $80,032 - $104,032 $104,032 - $137,568 $137,568 - $174,688
quality assurance inspector $31,845 - $40,456 $40,456 - $55,638 $55,638 - $79,326
regulatory affairs specialist $60,016 - $78,000 $78,000 - $104,048 $104,048 - $134,384
regulatory compliance chemist $52,016 - $62,417 $62,417 - $87,787 $87,787 - $114,229
sensory evaluator $49,970 - $54,999 $54,999 - $77,211 $77,211 - $99,422
toxicologist $55,104 - $69,984 $69,984 - $100,512 $100,512 - $135,008
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