2008 MPO Salary Survey
Even in a downturn economy, medtech workers remain enthusiastic about their jobs and the state of their industry.
By Christopher Delporte, Group Editor
Given the current state of the economy, many US workers currently may feel a tad uneasy about their professional lot in life. It’s no wonder. A crisis in the US mortgage industry followed by the shake-up and failure of some of Wall Street’s most venerable firms has made financial markets and the American people uneasy, to say the least. These issues, along with many others (higher fuel prices, increasing unemployment and rising healthcare costs, for example) debated in a presidential election year, keep the heat turned up on a public mood that already seems to be at the boiling point. Pundits continue to pound away at the notion that things haven’t been this gloomy since the Great Depression. Hyperbole aside, it’s safe to say the US economy could stand to be a little stronger—that is, unless you’re employed in the medical technology sector.
In spite of all this, as has been the case with feedback from years past, respondents to Medical Product Outsourcing’s annual salary survey for 2008 are overwhelmingly upbeat about their jobs and the state of the industry. The feedback we’ve culled provides illuminating insight into the current mood and makeup of those who toil in the device industry.
What, Me Worry?
When asked specifically about whether the state of the US economy had affected their sense of job security, a solid 72.4% reported no effect. (More than 200 readers participated in this year’s survey.) When asked to expand on a “no” vote, one person surveyed wrote: “We have more work than we can handle, and it’s increasing.” Still another commented: “People don’t stop getting sick during a recession.” Another person wryly asked: “What downturn?” On the flip side, however, a few people were more critical. “Everything is a little more unstable than in previous years, and it makes us nervous,” wrote one respondent. Another said: “Shareholders are not happy with our bottom line.” Answering the job security question directly, one reader surveyed wrote: “I was part of a massive layoff by my last employer earlier this year.”
Job loss to overseas markets is a growing concern to many. That fear, however, does not seem to be reflected in this year’s survey responses. A total of 82.8% of respondents said they didn’t feel their jobs were threatened by overseas competition, and an impressive 71.8% reported being “secure” or “very secure” in their current job. One survey taker noted: “We’re all threatened by competition—overseas and here at home.” In addition, 78.9% reported that their company has grown in the past year.
When asked how likely they were to leave their current employer within the next two years, 46% of respondents said they are “unlikely” or “very unlikely” to seek employment elsewhere. A more pragmatic 30.5% remained neutral on the question, while 23.5% reported it is “likely” or “very likely” they’d be looking for professional growth outside their current companies within the next 24 months.
Answers about what people enjoyed most about their job and the industry ranged from patient-centric feedback such as “making an impact on people’s health” and the importance of “developing innovative products” to comments that were more organizational in nature, including respondents citing “the great people I work with” and “high-growth, high-energy environment.” When it came to the more frustrating aspects of their jobs, “internal politics” won out with 34.7%, followed by “inadequate compensation” at 11.7% and “inadequate project funding” at 9.9%. A lack of resources—both people and financial—were cited consistently. “Large dreams, but not enough resources. Staff is stretched,” one person said. “Expectation to do more with less,” was yet another similar comment.
The Face of the Device Industry
There’s no denying that medical device industry professionals are a dedicated, well-educated lot—certainly based on the following numbers. This year’s survey reveals a group that has, on average, 13.8 years of medical device industry experience (a whopping 2,932 cumulative years). The survey respondent with the least industry experience only had six months under his belt, while some have dedicated more than 35 years to the medtech sector. It also seems device professionals tend not to job hop too much. On average, respondents have been at their current job for almost seven years (the most recent was three months, and two readers reported being employed by their current companies for more than 30 years).
The average age for the survey was 45, and the industry remains predominantly male—81.2% of survey respondents were men, though that’s down slightly from last year’s MPO survey (87.3%). Regardless of gender, education reigns supreme. A total of 46.9% have a bachelor’s degree, and 30.5% possess a master’s degree. Another 6% have earned a doctorate.
But where do all this experience and education reside? The Midwest and Northeast United States both received 24.9% of the vote, while the Western United States was close behind at 20.2%. Outside the United States, the next-largest block of feedback came from Europe at 6.1%, followed by Asia at 3.8%.
Show Me the Money
Pressing economic issues aside, what would a salary survey be without mention of … well, salaries? The vast majority (91.9%) of professionals responding to this year’s survey earn more than $50,000 a year, while 53% earn more than $100,000. Those are impressive numbers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) within the US Department of Labor, the mean annual salary for people employed across all sectors of “medical equipment and supplies manufacturing” is $43,830, based on information from May 2007 (the most recent available). The mean salary for “chief executives” in this category, according to the BLS, is $174,950, while “management occupations” average $115,470 and “biomedical engineers” earn $81,950 on average. According to respondents to the MPO salary survey, 56.8% are “somewhat satisfied” or “very satisfied” that compensation accurately reflects their level of job responsibility. A total of 20.7% reported feeling “neutral.” Notably, 18.8% reported not receiving a raise last year, and 42.3% received a raise of 5% or less.