Research & Development (R&D) Director Salary

Research & Development Directors in the United States see excellent average salaries — about $129K annually. Cash earnings for Research & Development Directors — including $31K in bonuses and $15K in profit sharing proceeds near the top of the pay scale — generally stretch from $83K to $188K depending on individual performance. Career length is the biggest factor affecting pay for this group, followed by geography. There are far more male Research & Development Directors survey respondents than women, making up 80 percent. Nearly all report receiving medical coverage from their employers and most collect dental insurance. Job satisfaction is high and work is enjoyable for most Research & Development Directors. The data in this summary comes from the PayScale salary survey.

$81,209 - $165,441
MEDIAN: $128,737

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National Salary Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
$81,209 - $165,441  
$1,019 - $30,946  
Profit Sharing
$2,054 - $15,495  
Total Pay (?
XTotal Pay combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime pay and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable for this job. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or the value of other non-cash benefits (e.g. healthcare).
$83,413 - $187,650  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 20 Jun 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 696
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Job Description for Research & Development (R&D) Director

Research and development (R&D) directors oversee their company's R&D department(s). As such, they are responsible for ensuring that companies meet their objectives for researching and developing new products or technologies and improve existing products. To accomplish these goals, R&D directors lead their company's research staff. They must ensure that their companies correctly understand and anticipate market demand, planning and developing products to meet consumer needs and remain competitive in the marketplace.


Research & Development (R&D) Director Tasks

  • In accordance with company objectives develop and monitor research plans and budgets for R&D projects, ensuring projects are completed on time and within cost objectives.
  • Drive accountability, consistency, quality, and process standardization across all phases of research and development.
  • Direct the Research and Development (R&D) program, from new product proposal to commercialization.

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Popular Skills for Research & Development (R&D) Director

Overall, survey participants reported applying a fair number of skills to their work. Most notably, facility with Clinical Research and Intellectual Property (IP) are correlated to pay that is significantly above average, leading to increases of 33 percent and 7 percent, respectively. Skills that seem to negatively impact pay include Biotechnology and Project Management. For most people, competency in Product Development indicates knowledge of People Management.

Pay by Experience Level for Research & Development (R&D) Director

Median of all compensation (including tips, bonus, and overtime) by years of experience.

Experience seems to be a major factor in determining the incomes of Research & Development Directors. The average worker who claims fewer than five years of experience earns around $98K. In contrast, however, individuals who report five to 10 years in this occupation see a much larger median of $120K. Research & Development Directors see a median salary of $145K after reaching one to two decades on the job. Research & Development Directors who surpass 20 years on the job report pay that isn't as high as one would expect; the median compensation for this crowd sits around $156K.

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Experience Affects Research & Development (R&D) Director Salaries

National Average

up arrow 30%

Skills That Affect Research & Development (R&D) Director Salaries

Clinical Research
up arrow 33%

Intellectual Property (IP)
up arrow 7%

People Management
up arrow 3%

Research Analysis
up arrow 2%

Product Development

National Average

Project Management
up arrow 4%

up arrow 10%

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 127 votes.


20 %
80 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
1-4 years
5-9 years
10-19 years
20 years or more

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits Medical: 92% dental benefits Dental: 81%
vision benefits Vision: 67% employee benefits None: 7%