How to Become a Pharmaceutical Sales Rep

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

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Enjoy Building Relationships That Make a Difference

If you are a natural “people person” with a passion for health care and networking, a job as a pharmaceutical sales rep could be both lucrative and enjoyable. And you won’t have to spend years in school to become a doctor. You will serve physicians and other medical professionals, travel, and enjoy the challenge of setting and meeting sales goals. Excellent child care options or family support make this career possible if you have young children at home. As an added bonus, health and retirement benefits are normally good, which allows you to provide stability for your family now and for your future.

Job Description

Pharmaceutical sales representatives are responsible for selling medications and other pharmaceutical products to clients, which usually include physicians’ offices, hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and other medical facilities. Reps are normally responsible for a particular geographical territory and travel extensively to meet clients, as well as offer good customer care through business lunches or special events. Pharmaceutical sales reps are expected to build relationships, have medical and pharmaceutical knowledge, as well as close sales to meet quotas and goals. Keep accurate records, maintain client files, and acquire good computer skills to perform these responsibilities efficiently and dependably. Hours can be long at times, and extended trips away from home are not uncommon.

Education Requirements

While some employers are willing to hire entry-level pharmaceutical reps with a high school diploma or the equivalent, many employers prefer candidates who have earned a bachelor’s degree in a sales-related field, as well as those who have some experience in the medical field. Optional certification is available through the National Association of Pharmaceutical Representatives, which offers online and in-person courses.

The median income for pharmaceutical sales reps is $73,729 per year, which means that half earn more than this, while the other half earns less. The top 10 percent earns more than $110,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent earns less than $47,000.

About the Industry

Some pharmaceutical sales reps work from home making calls, which could be good for those with young children, but most travel to meet clients, sometimes across the country, requiring frequent flights and hotel stays. Those who serve clients within reasonable driving distance may spend a fair amount of time in the car. Clients are typically in medical settings, so lots of walking and hours on your feet can sometimes come with the work.

Years of Experience

Salary for pharmaceutical sales reps can vary by employer and time on the job. Relationship building is essential to securing long-term clients, which helps to boost salary over time. One projection of income:

  • Entry-Level: $39,564–$81,540
  • Mid-Career: $50,899–$95,421
  • Experienced: $65,076–$111,400
  • Late-Career: $68,686–$127,085

Job Growth Trend

Job opportunities for all wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives, including pharmaceutical sales reps, are expected to increase by 5 percent over the next decade, which is about as fast as in other industries. This increase follows the average growth of the economy and population. To stand out from the pool of job candidates, consider earning certification, getting your bachelor’s degree and gaining some experience in the medical field.