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Old 08.07.2019, 15:48
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Pharma in Basel. Is my salary super low?

I saw online that the average salary for a administrative assistant is around 72K. Iím currently being paid this as a Scientist with 4 years experience and a B.S in Chemistry.

Am I getting screwed? Doesnít seem right to me...
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Old 08.07.2019, 15:56
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Re: Pharma in Basel. Is my salary super low?

sounds about right to me.
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Old 08.07.2019, 16:06
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Re: Pharma in Basel. Is my salary super low?

in unrelated news: https://www.mercurynews.com/2016/11/...its-last-year/
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Old 08.07.2019, 22:00
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Re: Pharma in Basel. Is my salary super low?

B.S. in pharma usually gets you a management position.


It's does sound low to me but I don't know anything about salaries. A while back the rule of thumb was if you were moving from the euro zone you could numerically double your salary by moving to Switzerland i.e. EUR50k would be CHF100k.
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Old 09.07.2019, 01:05
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Re: Pharma in Basel. Is my salary super low?

Keep in mind the massive tax burden, if you choose to take a flat in basel stadt.

72 K is not pretty much , does it include 12 or 13 salaries ?

The health insurance is pretty high as well in basel stadt.

As i lived in basel stadt , i had to pay a lot of money to the tax office (5 digits)

The rents could be cheap, depends what you want(Are you beyourself ?)
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Old 09.07.2019, 08:05
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Re: Pharma in Basel. Is my salary super low?

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Keep in mind the massive tax burden, if you choose to take a flat in basel stadt.

72 K is not pretty much , does it include 12 or 13 salaries ?

The health insurance is pretty high as well in basel stadt.

As i lived in basel stadt , i had to pay a lot of money to the tax office (5 digits)

The rents could be cheap, depends what you want(Are you beyourself ?)

72k is the annual salary so it makes very little difference if you get paid 12c or 13 times, the annual amount remains the same
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Old 09.07.2019, 08:30
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Re: Pharma in Basel. Is my salary super low?

Not directly applicable but I had a masters and a little more experience when I first moved here 7 years ago. I had a similar level position in a large biotech company, and was paid significantly more.
So based on this I would say 72K for you is low, but maybe not super low.

I would bring it up your pay ahead of your next pay/performance review or look for another position even at same level, common wisdom here seems to be that it is easier to get a pay rise by changing position than by asking for more money in current position.
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Old 09.07.2019, 09:43
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Re: Pharma in Basel. Is my salary super low?

It's a bit on the lower side - this is why its so important to negotiate well when you enter a position. The best course of action will be to change jobs to a different company if you want to have a sizable increase in your salary, say beyond 5 percent.


Most companys are very tight with it comes to increasing pay despite longevity in the role and the fact that your value outside can be higher.


HOWEVER, you have another challenge. You only have a BS and there are not so many jobs out there for BS level folks at a Scientist level - even in the US where jobs in Biotech are far more frequent, you still find it hard as a BS level person jump companys. Even with MS. I know Boston very very very well for example and yes, its a great biotech hub, but people are NOT really jumping aroudn from company to company at the Scientist level. (links to specificity in job descrition and experience required, cell assay specialist in one biotech may not be what's desired as a cell assay specialist in another).
So do try to maximize your income, but going to HR saying an assistant makes 72 K is the WRONG approach. Going to HR saying a BS Chem at ABC company makes 100 K, AND you have a job despcription or better yet Job offer, or you can say a recruiter called ...those are better arguements. Look for outside the company jobs..and do consider going back for education if you want to climb. In career. You'll only go so far with a BS or MS. My buddy was stuck in a linsdustry lab (big pharma) with a BS. After 3 years as a "scientist" (though making decent cash) She came back and did her PhD (she was a classmate with me, we finished our PhDs around the same time), today she's doing very well, Sr. Director, heading up a clinical trial program (she left the preclinical world like me). During my BS studies, i interned in a company and realized very early on a BS was not going to take me far based on my aspirations back then.
Good luck with what ever you do!
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Old 09.07.2019, 11:07
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Re: Pharma in Basel. Is my salary super low?

The OP hasn't actually says what he/she does, just what he/she is. Could be a scientist mopping the floors. Hard to judge unless we know what the role is, but 72K, in my opinion is low for any role in Pharma.
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Old 09.07.2019, 11:09
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Re: Pharma in Basel. Is my salary super low?

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The OP hasn't actually says what he/she does, just what he/she is. Could be a scientist mopping the floors. Hard to judge unless we know what the role is, but 72K, in my opinion is low for any role in Pharma.
True, could be higher if mopping floors rather than doing all that sciency nonsense.
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Old 09.07.2019, 22:08
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Re: Pharma in Basel. Is my salary super low?

End of the year or perhaps even before you could discuss this with your line manager. I am not sure about the salaries in Basel, but I think in Zurich I would expect something between 110K - 150K. Perhaps I should mention that I am not working on that field just a general feedback.
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Old 10.07.2019, 09:42
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Re: Pharma in Basel. Is my salary super low?

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End of the year or perhaps even before you could discuss this with your line manager. I am not sure about the salaries in Basel, but I think in Zurich I would expect something between 110K - 150K. Perhaps I should mention that I am not working on that field just a general feedback.
Jesus you kidding me? For an admin job? Most certainly not. Not in Zurich, not in Basel, not anywhere. Not even real exec assistants as in admin assistants to CEOs make that. That's what some first-line manager makes in roughly any job with maybe a couple of exceptions here and there. Some reality check here, please.

If OP takes a job as an admin assistant, that's (to one degree or other) his choice, but his BS in Chemistry has zero relevance for that. If I decide to take an admin job even though I have a PhD and 15 years of experience, then I'm free to do so, but my education then doesn't define the job or the salary. The job content alone defines the salary - and for this particular job, anything between 70-85k is about what can be expected, 70-75k without prior experience, maybe 80-85k with a few years. So I guess yeah, you can and should try to negotiate a few % more, 77-78k, but that's probably about as much as it'll be. Especially as I'm pretty sure there's a bonus scheme on top. And yes, that goes for big pharma, I should know given I work in one and actually see all salaries.
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Old 10.07.2019, 09:59
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Re: Pharma in Basel. Is my salary super low?

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Jesus you kidding me? For an admin job? Most certainly not. Not in Zurich, not in Basel, not anywhere. Not even real exec assistants as in admin assistants to CEOs make that. That's what some first-line manager makes in roughly any job with maybe a couple of exceptions here and there. Some reality check here, please.

If OP takes a job as an admin assistant, that's (to one degree or other) his choice, but his BS in Chemistry has zero relevance for that. If I decide to take an admin job even though I have a PhD and 15 years of experience, then I'm free to do so, but my education then doesn't define the job or the salary. The job content alone defines the salary - and for this particular job, anything between 70-85k is about what can be expected, 70-75k without prior experience, maybe 80-85k with a few years. So I guess yeah, you can and should try to negotiate a few % more, 77-78k, but that's probably about as much as it'll be. Especially as I'm pretty sure there's a bonus scheme on top. And yes, that goes for big pharma, I should know given I work in one and actually see all salaries.
As I understood the OP he isnít actually doing an admin job, he just used the admin job as an example of salary.
I believe he is working as a scientist but his salary is the same as that of an admin assistant. As such his experience and qualifications are entirely relevant and the salary seems to be a little on the low side to me.
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Old 10.07.2019, 10:39
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Re: Pharma in Basel. Is my salary super low?

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Jesus you kidding me? For an admin job? Most certainly not. Not in Zurich, not in Basel, not anywhere. Not even real exec assistants as in admin assistants to CEOs make that.
I'm not sure what company you work for, but certainly in my company and my wife's company, EAs to higher level staff (CEO, EXCO, chairman etc) would be getting between 120-150k.

All moot, however, as we don't believe the OP is admin.
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Old 10.07.2019, 11:09
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Re: Pharma in Basel. Is my salary super low?

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As I understood the OP he isn’t actually doing an admin job, he just used the admin job as an example of salary.
I believe he is working as a scientist but his salary is the same as that of an admin assistant. As such his experience and qualifications are entirely relevant and the salary seems to be a little on the low side to me.
You're right, so my bad.

The rest still roughly stands, though and scientists at least here make somewhere between 70-88k if more junior in terms of responsibilities (which is likely given he "only" has a BS)


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I'm not sure what company you work for, but certainly in my company and my wife's company, EAs to higher level staff (CEO, EXCO, chairman etc) would be getting between 120-150k.
Good for them, but they don't make that where I work. Maaaaybe if they're 55 and have been doing that for 35 years. Even then it's doubtful. We do have both, an admin and a strategic support, though, if the former has some responsibilities that are in the purview of the latter here, then maybe you'd get somewhere in the vicinity of 120k+. Not a chance anyone who's nowhere near the C level would make that ridiculous amount of money though.
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Old 10.07.2019, 11:58
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Re: Pharma in Basel. Is my salary super low?

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Good for them, but they don't make that where I work. Maaaaybe if they're 55 and have been doing that for 35 years. Even then it's doubtful.
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if the former has some responsibilities that are in the purview of the latter here, then maybe you'd get somewhere in the vicinity of 120k+
You don't seem 100% sure. Didn't you say that you 'see all salaries'?
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Old 11.07.2019, 13:53
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Re: Pharma in Basel. Is my salary super low?

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Jesus you kidding me? For an admin job? Most certainly not. Not in Zurich, not in Basel, not anywhere. Not even real exec assistants as in admin assistants to CEOs make that. That's what some first-line manager makes in roughly any job with maybe a couple of exceptions here and there. Some reality check here, please.
I'm sorry, but you are incorrect. 9 years ago, my first job in CH was at a Basel based pharma company as an administrative assistant & my salary was 80k. This was without any pharma experience and I was just working for a variety of directors/product managers. I also only have a bachelors degree, and while I had been in the work force for 10 years, it was in a completely different field.

OP, I would definitely look into what others in your field/position are making. I do know sadly, that starting scientists are among the lowest paid employees in pharma...which makes zero sense.

Last edited by Susie-Q; 11.07.2019 at 14:55.
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Old 11.07.2019, 14:47
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Re: Pharma in Basel. Is my salary super low?

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I'm sorry, but you are incorrect. 9 years ago, my first job was in a Basel based pharma company as an administrative assistant & my salary was 80k. This was without any pharma experience and I was just working for a variety of directors/product managers. I also only have a bachelors degree, and while I had been in the work force for 10 years, it was in a completely different field.

OP, I would definitely look into what others in your field/position are making. I do know sadly, that starting scientists are among the lowest paid employees in pharma...which makes zero sense.
what qualifications do you need to be an administrative assistant? i guess language skills and computer skills but anything specific beyond that?
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Old 11.07.2019, 15:11
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Re: Pharma in Basel. Is my salary super low?

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I'm sorry, but you are incorrect. 9 years ago, my first job in CH was at a Basel based pharma company as an administrative assistant & my salary was 80k. This was without any pharma experience and I was just working for a variety of directors/product managers. I also only have a bachelors degree, and while I had been in the work force for 10 years, it was in a completely different field.

OP, I would definitely look into what others in your field/position are making. I do know sadly, that starting scientists are among the lowest paid employees in pharma...which makes zero sense.

Things are different now to 9 years ago. If they got in at the right time, admin assistants can earn more than a newly appointed manager whom they have to work for.
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Old 11.07.2019, 15:16
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Re: Pharma in Basel. Is my salary super low?

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what qualifications do you need to be an administrative assistant? i guess language skills and computer skills but anything specific beyond that?
It depends. In my role, and the same for others in similar positions in my company, we were doing much more than booking flights and lunches (the stereotypical admin responsibilities). We were arranging large scale medical meetings around the world, drafting presentations, writing contracts etc.. (I was a marketing manager before in another industry.) Honestly, the job title wasn't fair...it was more like a project management role. But I did know "personal assistants" in my company that were making high salaries as well.
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