How Much Do Medical Science Liaisons Make?

Medical science liaison is a career that is not so well-known. According to the Medical Science Liaison Society (MSLS), it is a specific role in the healthcare industry that focuses on therapeutic areas and disease states.

The work may be targeted in oncology, cardiology, hematology, women’s healthcare, and specialized in diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes.

Advanced scientific training and academic credentials are generally required in this field and may consist of a doctorate degree (PhD, PharmD or MD) in the life sciences.

The top seven therapeutic areas supported by medical science liaisons in the U.S. are the following (MSLS 2021):

Therapeutic AreaPercentage of MSLs Supporting Area
Oncology31 percent
Neurology17 percent
Rare and orphan diseases11 percent
Hematology10 percent
Immunology9 percent
Cardiology and thrombosis8 percent
Diabetes, metabolic disorders, and endocrinology6 percent

Medical science liaisons work across the medical science industry, sometimes consulting at companies such as The Medical Affairs Company, conducting clinical trials, exploring new approaches to disease management, introducing new products and expansions, and presenting clinical evidence and comparative data presentations.

Job duties may include the following:

  • Identifying and fostering relationships with their customers
  • Communicating and sharing information with internal and external stakeholders
  • Uncovering and sharing competitive intelligence in a timely and appropriate manner

In its 2020 survey, the MSLS ranked the industries in which its professionals work, revealing the following:

IndustryPercentage of MSLs in Industry
Large pharmaceutical and biotech41 percent
Small pharmaceutical and biotech27 percent
Medium pharmaceutical and biotech22 percent
Medical devices4 percent
Diagnostics4 percent
Contracting2 percent
Clinical research organization1 percent

In the past, medical science liaisons have included individuals with various scientific backgrounds. These have included sales reps, nurses, and professionals with various doctoral degrees or other clinical backgrounds.

More recently, the doctoral degree has become a requirement within the industry, according to the Medical Science Liaison Society. The role is becoming increasingly important to the success of companies that employ them which has led to exponential growth.

According to a 2018 global survey, 68 percent of managers had plans to expand their medical science teams over the following two years.

According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a medical science liaison is $153,969, with $117,000 on the low end and $203,000 on the high end. Finally, here were the top-paying U.S. cities for medical science liaisons (Glassdoor 2021):

CityAnnual average salary of MSLs
Seattle, WA$170,898
Philadelphia, PA$170,305
San Diego, CA$162,974
Boston, MA$160,394
Chicago, IL$155,574
San Francisco, CA$155,151
Washington DC$153,969
New York City, NY$152,750
Los Angeles, CA$149,049
Raleigh-Durham, NC$148,292
Catherine Mosley

Catherine Mosley


Catherine Chapman Mosley is a writer living in central Virginia. She’s written extensively on healthcare topics for various outlets and also works full-time in communications, marketing and community engagement. She is the proud parent of a son who is focused on a healthcare career and often seeks his editing help.

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