Salary and compensation benchmarking are essential factors that lead to successful recruitment and retention of MSL talent. Companies must have a clear understanding of MSL salary and compensation levels across different Therapeutic Areas/disease states to remain competitive.
To gain a more accurate understanding of MSL salary and compensation levels globally, the MSL Society conducted the 9th MSL Salary and Compensation Survey in late 2022, which included 2,099 MSL professionals from 60 countries. The primary purpose of the survey was to gain insights into current global MSL salary and compensation levels across pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical devices, and other healthcare companies that employ MSLs and MSL leaders.
The MSL Society conducted the first-ever MSL salary survey in 2014, and as in previous years, the 2022 report serves as the largest database of MSL salaries. As such, it remains the most comprehensive and authoritative resource on global MSL salary and compensation levels.
Individual country reports were created for all countries that received a sizeable number of responses. Based on the data gathered data, the 2022 Salary & Compensation Survey is available in 15 versions, including the overall global results and 14 individual country-level reports: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, U.K., and USA. However, this article will focus only on the U.S. results (all other reports and data are available on the MSL Society website).
The 2022 MSL Salary & Compensation survey included 2,099 MSL professionals from 60 countries, and the data was collected from an online survey that was open from August 25th to December 13th. The survey was only open to current MSLs (or equivalent titles), MSL management, MSL Excellence/Operations, and Executive Management. Respondents were only allowed to participate once and duplicate surveys from a single email address were not accepted. The survey results were not weighted, and partial responses that included salary data were included in this report, meaning that the N value in some tables will not add up to the total report N.
Respondents were invited to participate in the survey through a range of sources, including:
- Announcements in our LinkedIn group “Medical Science Liaison & Medical Affairs Networkers,” as well as other LinkedIn groups
- The MSL Society newsletter
- Personal direct LinkedIn contacts
The U.S. data includes 1,384 current MSL professionals consisting of 1,032 Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs), 35 MSL Excellence/Operations, 219 Manager/Director of MSLs, 65 Executive Management/Vice President of Medical Affairs, and 33 identifying as Others. When split by gender, 42% of respondents were male, 54% female, and 4% identified as other. The U.S. data includes MSL professionals from all company types and diverse educational backgrounds with a wide range of years of experience. The salary calculations in all Tables in the survey represent only base salaries and do not include other compensation.
The respondents also identified their company type, in which pharmaceutical/biotechnology companies represented 87% of all U.S. participants, subdivided into 36%, 23%, and 28% representing Large, Medium, and Small Pharmaceutical/Biotechnology companies, respectively. The remaining respondents were Medical Devices, Contract Research Organizations, Diagnostic Companies, Contract MSL Organizations, and Others.
AVERAGE SALARY BASED ON COMPANY TYPE
Based on the data, company type, plays a role in the compensation rates of MSL professionals. On average, MSLs and MSL managers that work for Large, Medium, and Small Pharmaceutical/Biotechnology companies have the highest salaries. On average, executives working for Large, Medium, and Small Pharmaceutical/Biotechnology companies and CRO’s have the highest salaries. (See Tables 1-4.)
Figure 1. U.S. MSL/Sr. MSL Salary based on Company Type
Figure 2. U.S. Manager/Director of MSLs Salary based on Company Type
Figure 3. U.S. Executive Management/VP of Medical Affairs Salary based on Company Type
Figure 4. U.S. MSL Excellence/Operations Salary based on Company Type
AVERAGE SALARY BASED ON YEARS OF EXPERIENCE
As in previous annual reports, the 2022 report revealed (as expected) that generally, one’s salary within the MSL profession steadily increases with years of experience. However, interestingly, there are instances where, on average, the salary for both MSLs/Sr. MSLs and Managers/Directors decrease unexpectedly. (Tables 5-8).
Figure 5. U.S. MSL/Sr. MSL Salary based on Years of Experience
Figure 6. U.S. Manager/Director of MSLs Salary based on Years of Experience
Figure 7. U.S. Executive Management/VP of Medical Affairs Salary based on Years of Experience
Figure 8. U.S. MSL Excellence/Operations Salary based on Years of Experience
Companies must ensure that the MSL professionals they employ receive competitive salaries to strengthen retention. According to the 2022 survey results, more than 89% of MSLs reported being “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their overall annual compensation. In similar satisfaction rates, 76% of Manager/Director of MSLs, reported they are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their overall annual compensation. Those in Executive Management/VP of Medical Affairs and MSL Excellence/Operations also reported high satisfaction rates with their overall compensation. (Tables 9-12.)
Figure 9. U.S. MSL/Sr. MSL – Salary Satisfaction
Figure 10. U.S. Manager/Director of MSLs – Salary Satisfaction
Figure 11. U.S. Executive Management/VP of Medical Affairs – Salary Satisfaction
Figure 12. U.S. MSL Excellence/Operations – Salary Satisfaction
Importantly, the 2022 survey also included questions about salary transparency. Results reveal different perspectives regarding transparency. Interestingly, although 79% of MSLs indicated that salary information for their role should be public information at their company, 56% of Managers/Directors and 72% of Executive Management do not think this information should be publicly available. Another finding was that 88% of MSLs and 62% of managers indicated that salary details should be included in all job postings for roles within Medical Affairs. (Tables 13-16.)
Figure 13. U.S. MSL/Sr. MSL – Salary Transparency
Figure 14. U.S. Manager/Director of MSLs – Salary Transparency
Figure 15. U.S. Executive Management/VP of Medical Affairs – Salary Transparency
Figure 16. U.S. MSL Excellence/Operations – Salary Transparency
To gain a more accurate understanding of MSL salary and compensation levels globally, the MSL Society conducted the 9th MSL Salary and Compensation Survey in 2022, which included 2,099 MSL professionals from 60 countries. The primary purpose of the survey was to gain insights into current global MSL salary and compensation levels across pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical devices, and other healthcare companies that employ MSLs. This data enables MSL leaders, HR, and other decision-makers to make more informed decisions regarding salary and compensation levels. As in previous years, the annual reports are complimentary to everyone who participated and all professional-level members of the MSL Society.
The 2022 survey results are the world’s largest database of MSL salaries. As such, it remains the most comprehensive and authoritative resource on global MSL salary and compensation levels.
2022 MSL Salary and Compensation, USA Results, Medical Science Liaison Society, 2022.
The full Global MSL Salary and Compensation Report and 14 individual country reports, which reveal details of these findings and other insights, are available for free for all members of the MSL Society under the resource section of the society website www.themsls.org.
Dr. Samuel Dyer
CEO and Chairman of the Board
Dr. Samuel Dyer has over 23 years of experience within the International MSL community while working for a number of top global companies. During his career, he has led MSL / Medical Teams in multiple TA’s in over 60 countries throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Australia, and Asia.
His management experience includes small (2+) to large (240+) MSL teams across multiple TA’s. Throughout his career, Dr. Dyer has worked on MSL and Medical Affairs strategy and has extensive experience in creating strategic MSL utilization and medical communication plans. He has designed and created global MSL training programs that have included: onboarding programs, KOL Medical communication plans, strategic assessments, planning, and execution in geographical locations with diverse cultures /languages. Dr. Dyer has successfully launched both pharmaceutical and medical device MSL teams both in the U.S. and internationally.
Dr. Dyer has also written extensively on the Medical Science Liaison role, including numerous published articles, benchmark studies, and reports. Dr. Dyer is well recognized within the global MSL community and has developed an extensive international network within the Pharmaceutical, CRO, Medical Device, and Biotechnology industries. He is the owner of the largest group on LinkedIn for MSLs and Medical Affairs with over 25,000 members. He has spoken and moderated several international conferences on various MSL topics including KOL management, creating MSL teams, MSL training, international MSL teams, and the value of the MSL role and Medical Affairs. Dr. Dyer is consistently sought out as a resource and consultant for MSL projects that have included diverse companies such as McKinsey Consulting, Bain and Co., and Philips Healthcare.
Dr. Dyer has a Ph.D. in Health Sciences and did medical training in Chicago. He has a Master’s Degree in Tropical Biology (where he studied in the Amazon) and a B.S. in Biology. Dr. Dyer also completed a certificate program for Executive Leadership and Strategy in Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology at the Harvard Business School.
Dr. Dyer is the author of the Amazon #1 Best Seller “The Medical Science Liaison Career Guide: How to Break into Your First Role” (www.themslbook.com) which is the first book published on how to break into the MSL role.