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Pharmaceutical Sales Rep Career


What is a Pharmaceutical Sales Rep?


Pharmaceutical sales representatives provide a vital link between drug manufacturers and physicians and pharmacies. These professionals educate physicians and other healthcare professionals about new drugs developed by pharmaceutical companies. This career involves building relationships with healthcare providers, presenting accurate information about pharmaceutical products, and promoting the benefits of potentially life-saving medications.

This profession provides an opportunity to combine excellent communication skills with an interest in the healthcare industry. If you have a passion for sales and a strong understanding of science, then this career could be ideal for you.


What Does a Pharmaceutical Sales Rep Do?

A pharmaceutical sales rep's job description can vary from company to company—and even day to day—but typically includes these responsibilities: 

  • Educating healthcare professionals by providing comprehensive information about the pharmaceutical drugs they represent, ensuring that healthcare professionals understand their medical benefits. 
  • Visiting pharmacists, hospitals, physicians, patient advocacy groups, medical clinics, and other healthcare facilities. This job may require frequent travel. 
  • Promoting pharmaceutical products by advocating for their efficacy, safety profile, and advantages over competitors. 
  • Establishing trust by building connections with physicians and other healthcare professionals and exhibiting product knowledge expertise.  
  • Sharing detailed product information and providing samples to healthcare professionals, ensuring that they are well-informed about the pharmaceutical drugs they represent and their applications in patient care. 
  • Generating new leads and following up on potential sales.  
  • Performing administrative tasks such as submitting and processing orders, establishing new accounts, and reviewing product literature.  
  • Participating in sales meetings and product knowledge training.  

Where Do Pharmaceutical Sales Reps Work?

Sales reps typically are employed by either manufacturers or distributors. You may have an interest in selling pharmaceutical products that treat chronic and acute diseases affecting the general population or specialty pharmaceuticals that treat rare or complex diseases. Sales reps may work for:

  • Pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors 
  • Research institutions 
  • Pharmacies 
  • Hospitals 
  • Clinics 
  • Medical conferences and trade shows  


How Do I Become a Pharmaceutical Sales Rep? 

Some sales representative positions may not require a formal degree. However, most employers prefer that prospective pharmaceutical sales reps hold at least a bachelor’s degree to enhance their credibility and understanding of medical and pharmacological products. A bachelor’s degree in health and human services or health science, for example, includes useful coursework such as biology, epidemiology, pharmacology, pathophysiology, healthcare statistics, and medical terminology. Communications and sales techniques are also highly valued skills. An internship may be required to acquire necessary on-the-job skills before entering the workforce. Choosing a specialty field, such as cancer treatment may require additional training. 

Additional professional education or an advanced degree may be necessary to stay updated on medical advances, pharmaceutical terminology, new products, and sales techniques. Pursuing a master’s degree in pharmaceutical sales or other healthcare-related fields can enhance a candidate's credentials and marketability in this competitive field. 

Best Degrees for a Pharmaceutical Sales Rep

Health & Nursing

Health and Human Services – B.S.

An online health degree program for students who are committed to making a...

An online health degree program for students who are committed to making a difference for patients in a variety of ways.

  • Time: 63% of students finish this program in 24 months
  • Tuition: $4,085 per 6-month term
  • Courses: 35 total courses in this program

Skills for your résumé that you will learn in this program:

  • Epidemiology
  • Community and Public Health
  • Cultural Awareness
  • Pathophysiology
  • Healthcare Values and Ethics
  • Substance Abuse Support

This degree allows you to work inside the healthcare industry, while also directly working with patients who need help.

Health & Nursing

Health Science – B.S.

An online health science program designed for students who want real-world...

An online health science program designed for students who want real-world skills for valuable health careers.

  • Time: 63% of students finish similar programs in 24 months.
  • Tuition: $4,210 per 6-month term
  • Courses: 28 total courses in this program

Skills for your résumé that you will learn in this program:

  • Epidemiology
  • Disease prevention
  • Behavioral health
  • Substance abuse support
  • Health research
  • Medical technology

This degree prepares you with relevant industry skills and experience that will help you move forward in your healthcare career.

How Much Does a Pharmaceutical Sales Rep Make?


Pharmaceutical sales reps earn an average annual salary of $78,282, according to Glassdoor. Many pharmaceutical sales reps earn a base salary plus commission and bonuses, so the total salary can vary depending on performance. The estimated additional pay is around $46,821 per year, bringing the annual average to around $125,000. Salaries for jobs in this field can vary depending on experience, education, training, and location. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are among the highest paying employers for sales reps in the healthcare field. 

What Is the Job Outlook?


The career outlook for pharmaceutical sales reps is optimistic, thanks to the continuous evolution of treatments, medications, and advances in health care. The projected employment growth for pharmaceutical sales reps is 6% between 2022 and 2032, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 


What Skills Does a Pharmaceutical Sales Rep Need? 

Success as a pharmaceutical sales rep requires knowldege and expertise in these areas: 

  • Strong interpersonal skills. Pharmaceutical sales reps need a combination of great communication and listening skills to effectively convey the benefits of medications and how they pertain to patient needs.
  • Product and medical knowledge. Understanding the effects of pharmaceutical products is essential for sales reps to effectively communicate their benefits to healthcare professionals. 
  • Presentation skills. Sales reps must be able to concisely explain the primary features, benefits, and potential side effects of medications to healthcare providers.
  • Effective sales techniques. Sales reps should possess the ability to persuade and influence potential 
  • customers through a non-aggressive approach.
  • Organizational skills. The management of multiple contracts and accounts requires strong organizational capabilities among pharmaceutical sales representatives.
  • Self-motivation. Sales reps must be driven to meet sales targets and quotas.
  • Professionalism. Maintaining a professional demeanor is essential for building trust and credibility with healthcare providers.

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Interested in Becoming a Pharmaceutical Sales Rep?

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