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Survey highlights state of regulatory affairs profession

About 34% of regulatory affairs professionals are involved in comparative effectiveness research, health technology assessment, and reimbursement, compared with 25% just 2 years ago, according to a new survey released in August by the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society (RAPS). The survey includes 3120 respondents from 55 countries around the world (81% from the United States, and most others from Europe and Canada).

According to RAPS, “Regulatory professionals play critical roles throughout the healthcare product lifecycle, from concept through product obsolescence. They provide strategic, tactical and operational direction and support for working within regulations to expedite the development and delivery of safe and effective healthcare products to people around the world.” Science Careers published an article about careers in regulatory science in April (“All in the Details: Careers in Regulatory Science“).

The new survey found that 72.6% of the respondents work in industry, with the remainder employed in academic institutions (2.3%), government (3.2%), independent research organizations (3.5%), consulting firms (13.1%), hospitals (1.3%), and law firms (0.4%). More than 68% of respondents work with multiple product types, including different types of pharmaceuticals, medical devices and materials, veterinary products, cosmetics, and foods.

An increasing number of respondents (compared to previous years’ surveys) report taking part in the business side of their work, which includes activities such as business and corporate strategy, finance, management, personnel management, and legal activities. On average, respondents reported spending 18.2% of their time on business aspects of their job; this figure varies substantially by job level. At the more junior levels, the duties usually include smaller business-related issues, as opposed to overall business strategy and functions among higher-level managers. Given those figures, it’s perhaps not surprising that the number of respondents holding MBAs has increased in recent years, and is now up to 12%.

Almost all the respondents (99%) have a university degree, and more than 60% have degree credentials beyond the baccalaureate level. More than 86% have degrees in life sciences, engineering, or clinical professions, reflecting the scientific and clinical focus of this work.

Base salaries for US-based professionals currently range from an average of $55,606 at the coordinator level to approximately $200,000 for vice presidents and CEOs. Most employees in this field have seen their salaries stay constant or slowly increase despite the recession. The exceptions to this are vice presidents and CEOs, whose base salaries have been stable, but total compensation has decreased due to a reduction in bonuses. Somewhat lower salaries are reported in academic and clinical settings, while the highest ones are found in industry and government positions.

Consultants, 55% of whom are self-employed, have experienced a 17% decline in base salary and 21% decrease in total earnings. The number of consultants has increased over time, and 30% are self-employed with less than 2 years of work experience. Taken together, these data suggest that an increasing number of people have recently become independent consultants, likely due to loss of work in the economic downturn.

The majority of the report’s findings overall were true across national boundaries, with the main differences related to the level of interest in health technology assessment/comparative effectiveness research and reimbursement, which was less common in Latin America and the Middle East. Salary levels differed by country and varied with local standards of living. The factors influencing the salary, however, such as job experience and education, were largely the same regardless of geographic location.

The RAPS Scope of Practice & Compensation Study is available online from the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society.

-by Yevgeniya Nusinovich