The rise and rise of CRO employment levels

By Nick Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Employment, Charles river

The rise and rise of CRO employment levels
CRO employment levels have soared in recent years, almost doubling at some companies, and this rise, and recent dip, is presented and discussed by Outsourcing-Pharma using an interactive animated chart.

In an earlier article Outsourcing-Pharma depicted contract research organisations’ (CRO) rising revenues and this has been accompanied by sizeable increases in staffing at some companies.

Icon has experienced the most dramatic rise in staffing levels, increasing by 75 per cent over the period shown on the graph. Trailing Icon are Parexel, which has grown its staff by 70 per cent, and Covance, where employment levels have risen by 35 per cent.

Following Covance’s growth it now employs approximately 10,000 people, putting it joint top of the CROs shown with PPD. The only CRO not to grow its staffing levels over the time period shown is Charles River, where the number employed has fluctuated between 8,000 and 9,000.

In the most recent financial results four of the five CROs reported a dip in employment. Covance is the only CRO that has continued growing staffing levels; it is also the only CRO that has not experienced a fall in revenues in recent quarters.

The chart is best viewed by changing the x-axis to “time”, done by clicking on “employment” and selecting from the list. Further modifications can be made by clicking “same color” and selecting “unique colors" or selecting the CROs on the right. There is also an option to add trails but this may cause the animation to run slowly on some computers.

To start the animation click play button in the bottom left. The speed of the animation can be adjusted by sliding the triangular shaped button, located immediately to the right of play, up and down.

It is also possible to view the graph as an animated bar chart. This is achieved by clicking the tab with bars on it located in the top right. 


All employment figures are taken from the companies’ quarterly financial reports. Data on Icon’s employment in the first half of 2006 was unavailable. Some CROs were not included in the chart because data was unavailable.

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