A pharmaceutical sales rep or a PSR is someone with knowledge of new changes in the field of medicine, especially medical drugs, and how they affect the human body. Primarily, the job of a pharmaceutical sales representative is to advise and help medical professionals provide their patients with the most recent and developed treatment in the field. While selling a new product, a PSR has to have intensive knowledge of the chemistry of the drug as well as its side effects.
There are no exact guidelines for becoming a pharmaceutical sales representative. However, most PSRs have at least a bachelor's degree in a science related field. Aspirants are expected to have a strong background in biology, chemistry and statistics. Potential degree programs that would be helpful for a career in the pharmaceutical industry include a bachelor's in pharmaceutical business and management, biological sciences, or business and marketing.
Professionals in the field are expected to have a strong understanding of medicine as well as strong business and negotiation skills. While a master's degree is not necessary, often, after a bachelors' degree in sciences, students will get a master's in business administration (MBA) to enhance their marketing skills.
In addition to this, pharmacists are supposed to undergo extensive on-the-job training. They are also expected to continue their education to keep up to date with the latest developments in medicinal drugs. Pharmacists can also choose to get certified through the National Association of Pharmaceutical Representatives.
Sales representatives in the pharmaceutical industry are expected to work from home, from their offices and attend conferences and events to promote their products. They are also expected to find physicians' offices, hospitals, and nursing homes and sell products directly to medical health professionals.
A pharmacist can advance to higher positions within the field. In those positions they will be responsible for supervising the work of their sales teams, organize campaigns and introduce new products to the field.
Important Facts about Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing of technical and scientific products was $38.31 per hour and $79,680 per year. The top ten percentile in this profession made $ 156,630 per year and the bottom 10 percentile got $39,960 per year. Employment in this category stood at 312,980, with the highest number of employees in California, Texas and Florida respectively.
If you want to become a pharmaceutical sales representative, you must get a bachelor's degree in a science related field e.g. a four-year degree in pharmaceutical management would be immensely helpful to your career. Within this program, you will not only learn about the medical industry but also about marketing strategies and business management. Some of the classes you will be expected to take include economics, financial management, marketing, healthcare economics, pharmacology, anatomy and physiology.
If you want to work as a manager in a pharmaceutical company instead of a sales representative, you may have to get a master's degree in addition to getting a bachelor's degree. This will train you in higher level management and organization skills in addition to providing basic information about human anatomy and physiology.
Part of your education could include certification. While certification is not a requirement to become a pharmaceutical sales representative, it does help further your career. Students can get certified through the National Association of Pharmaceutical Representatives and become Certified National Pharmaceutical Representatives (CNPR).
Experience and Skill Requirements
Typically, employers in the pharmaceutical industry are interested in your sales skills, negotiation tactics, personal drive and educational qualifications. While certificates are often offered by private organizations, colleges and universities, certification is not necessary to becoming a pharmaceutical sales representative.
There are however some skills that most pharmaceutical companies will look for while hiring. The most important one is curiosity and willingness to keep learning. Sales representatives must be knowledgeable about the selling points of a drug and its side effects. In addition to this, they must also have strong communication and negotiation skills. While prior experience is always a plus, it isn't necessary to become a good sales representative.