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Regulatory Focus™ > News Articles > Op-ed: New RAPS Research on the Regulatory Profession

Op-ed: New RAPS Research on the Regulatory Profession

Posted 25 July 2012 | By Sherry Keramidas, PhD, FASAE, CAE

For several years, studies conducted by RAPS have indicated talented regulatory staff are highly valued and sought after, and they are being rewarded with increased compensation.

This trend has continued over the past two decades and now confirmed in the 2012 Scope of Practice & Compensation Report for the Regulatory Profession, released by RAPS in July. The study is based on information from nearly 3,000 regulatory professionals representing 58 countries and employed in a wide range of work settings.

While many organizations in the life sciences and healthcare product sectors, including regulatory agencies, continue to tighten budgets, regulatory professionals remain critical members of the workforce. They play many important roles in bringing medical innovations to market, even if their roles are sometimes behind the scenes.

Even a game-changing medical breakthrough cannot help patients-or a company's bottom line-if it never results in a real-world product approved by regulators and marketed to consumers, doctors or others who can use it for better health outcomes. As I frequently comment, regulatory professionals are uniquely positioned to understand and negotiate the confluence of medical science, regulation and business.

Regulatory Salaries in State of Flux

The 2012 report reaffirms regulatory professionals' scope of work extends throughout the product lifecycle and is linked to organizations' business and strategic directions. The nature of work and distribution of time varies by job level and by employer, but with strong similarities across the globe. The amount of time allocated to business and strategy increases with job level, with vice presidents allocating about a third of their time to business.

Amid challenging economic conditions in many areas, the survey finds regulatory professionals' compensation increased in 2011, although at a more modest rate than in any previous period since the 1990s. In North America, compensation levels increased an average of 3% across job levels and employment settings.

Among professionals in Europe, base salary declined by about 9% (although total compensation of newer to mid-level professionals remained unchanged). Compensation levels increased among professionals in Asia and Latin America.

Factors in Compensation

The research focuses on key factors shaping compensation: job level, regulatory experience, highest earned degree, total professional experience and RAC. Of note, in 2011, professionals in North America with the RAC earned on average 10% more than their peers (from the coordinator level up to vice presidents and CEO).

For the first time, the RAC was correlated with nearly 5% higher base compensation among professionals in Europe. Further, there is a growing proportion of mid and senior level professionals with the RAC, indicating career growth of the RAC holders.

Regulatory is often not a first career for most regulatory professionals. Previous research indicated the leading "feeder" field for regulatory was quality.

The current study finds while 21% of professionals transitioned from a quality role, this was overshadowed by 28% who transitioned from research and product development areas. This may reflect recent downsizing of some R&D units in many organizations. As they transition into a regulatory position, professionals are bringing a strong educational background-90% hold a university degree in a scientific, clinical or engineering field and more than 70% have graduate level education and/or advanced degrees.

The Role of RAPS

RAPS has conducted this critical research on the profession for more than 20 years, providing vital information on the evolution of the profession as it responds to scientific, business and global changes and factors shaping compensation. The current research also provides new insights on factors influencing career choices, professional development and the role of the professional in their organization.

The report of the 2012 study is available for RAPS members, along with salary calculators-US and EU versions-based factors including experience, education and RAC status. Additional special articles will be released throughout August, September and October examining factors shaping regulatory career decisions, roles and responsibilities and management of regulatory staff.  

As we release these reports, we will also look to engage you in discussions about your career experiences, your expectations for the future and considerations for how to develop the global regulatory talent that will continue the legacy of this vital profession.

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