2009 MPO Salary Survey
Medtech workers remain enthusiastic, though respondents report feeling the economy’s pinch more this year.
Christopher Delporte, Group Editor
It has been a bleak year economically, which perhaps may be a bit of an understatement. As recently as Sept. 23, however, officials at the U.S. Federal Reserve said the economy is improving, activity in the housing sector is increasing, and we’re pulling out of recession. That’s welcome news, right? Not so fast. On Oct. 2, the U.S. Department of Labor released a study stating that U.S. employers cut more jobs from their payrolls in September and the unemployment rate hit another 26-year high, as the long-battered U.S. labor market took an unexpected turn for the worse. What a difference a week makes.
With those kinds of statistics, it’s no wonder that many U.S. workers—including those in the medical device sector—may feel a tad uneasy about their professional lot in life.
“More device companies, relatively speaking, implemented fewer cost-control measures in 2009 than their technology and life sciences counterparts,” Speidel said.
Radford’s research indicated that 45 percent of medical device companies laid off employees in 2009, averaging about 7 percent of the U.S. work force. According to Speidel, these figures are less than technology and life sciences industries. In addition, fewer than 20 percent of companies required mandatory time off.
Speidel said a few firms have implemented hiring freezes and that medical device companies continue to look for and cultivate new talent in key areas. Support jobs, such as sales and service, continue to
be added. Overall industry turnover is low, he added, also noting that 42 percent of companies have frozen their employees’ salaries. On a positive note, he said many 2009 bonus plans are still scheduled to pay out at target, and salaries have continued to go up about 1-2 percent year over year.
Feedback to this year’s annual salary survey seems to support much of Speidel’s findings. Those surveyed remain upbeat about the state of the medical device industry, though a majority of those surveyed this year said the economy has taken its toll. The feedback we’ve culled from this snapshot of readers provides illuminating insight into the current mood and makeup of those who toil in the device industry. Almost 60 percent of the 115 people surveyed work for OEMs, while 24 percent are employed by contract manufacturers. The majority (18.3 percent) categorized their jobs as “production/ manufacturing,” while “corporate management” (16.5 percent) and “quality assurance” (12.2 percent) rounded out the top three.
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. Approximately 60 percent of the respondents have been in
the industry for more than 10 years. The average was 13 years. More than 25 percent of those surveyed had more than 20 years of experience. It also seems device professionals who took our survey tend not to job hop too much. On average, respondents have been at their current job for a little more than six years (6.3), with an impressive 20 percent staying at their companies for more than 10 years.
The average age for the survey was 45, and the industry remains predominantly male—82.6 percent. Regardless of gender, education reigns supreme. A total of 43.5 percent have a bachelor’s degree, and 29.6 percent possess a master’s degree. Another 6.1 percent have earned a doctorate. But where does all
Feeling the Pinch
When asked specifically about how the state of the economy had affected their sense of job security, a majority—56.6 percent—said it had. This is a marked reversal compared to the 72.4 percent of respondents who reported no effect from a slower economy last year.
There were quite a few positive comments as well. One respondent, for example, noted: “We are selling as much as ever in the United States.” Yet another reported double-digit growth: “The business is growing. Estimated to be up 10-15 percent in 2009.” In fact, 46.8 percent of respondents said their business had grown in the past year, compared with 53.2 percent who reported downsizing by their employers. Many reported restructuring and layoffs, while others noted that they were being asked to do more with fewer resources.
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 79.8 percent of respondents said they didn’t feel their jobs were threatened by overseas competition. But
many reported growing concern about companies moving jobs to or opening operations in China. When asked how likely they were to leave their current employer within the next two years, 40.8 percent of respondents said they are “unlikely” or “very unlikely” to seek employment elsewhere. A more pragmatic 32.2 percent remained neutral on the question, while 26.9 percent 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 big-picture feedback such as “leading the development of new medical technology in collaboration with physicians and
researchers” and “new products and technologies that improve healthcare, extend life and contribute to quality of life.” Many other comments were much more organizational in nature, including respondents citing “a great bonus program and a stable company” and “high-quality co-workers and clients.” In fact, those who chose to elaborate on what they enjoyed most about their jobs predominately noted a good working environment or a good working relationship with staff/ co-workers. Because there’s at least one in every group, when asked what was best about his or her job, one respondent said: “That I have one.”
Money, Money, Money
Pressing economic issues aside, what would a salary survey be without mention of … well, salaries? The vast majority (87.7 percent) of professionals responding to this year’s survey earn more than $50,000 a year, while 43.4 percent earn more than $100,000. According to respondents to the MPO salary survey, 45.2 percent were “somewhat satisfied” or “very satisfied” that compensation accurately reflects their level of job responsibility. A total of 20.9 percent reported feeling “neutral.” Notably, 45.2 percent said they did not receive a raise last year, and 56.5 percent reported that they did not or would not receive a raise this year.