Steps to Become A Pharmaceutical Sales Representative

Pharmaceutical sales is a high-turnover and fast-paced field that rewards knowledge, persistence, and assertiveness. Pharmaceutical sales representatives usually spend the majority of their time talking to clients such as retirement homes, patient advocacy groups, physicians, hospital personnel, and pharmacists, in order to increase the visibility and sales of their company’s products.

If you’re interested in bringing innovative life-saving drugs and treatments to the general public, then you should consider becoming a pharmaceutical sales representative. Here is some advice on how to land a job in this highly rewarding and competitive industry.

What Does a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative Do?

These professionals are mostly responsible for:

  • Educating people about medication-Informing professionals regarding recent developments in the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Educating consumers, health care facilities, pharmacists, and physicians about new pharmaceutical products.
  • Planning, organizing, and attending sales meetings, workshops, networking events, and conferences.

Steps to Become a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative

In order to kick-start a career in this field, you will have to go through the following sequence of steps:

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

As per the information provided by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, sales representatives working with technical or scientific products typically need a bachelor's degree. Thus, you should take some coursework in a related field such as Life Sciences. Having a science background will not only increase your credibility in the pharmaceutical sales profession but will also help you understand about the product lines.

Apart from studying subjects like statistics, chemistry, toxicology, microbiology. pharmacology, biophysics, and biology, you should also try to get some business training in order to hone your sales skills. Moreover, many recruiters value work experience, therefore you should try to avail as many internship opportunities as you can. During your summer break, you can intern at medical sales companies.

Step 2: Consider Pursuing a Master’s Degree

In order to make yourself more desirable and marketable to prospective employers, you should consider earning a Master’s degree. You can obtain a Master of Science (MS) in Biopharmaceutical Marketing or Pharmaceutical Science. If you decide to pursue a business degree at the Master’s level, you will get to study topics like Product Life Cycle, Pricing Strategies, Business Intelligence, Market Planning, Product Development, Marketing Tools and Techniques, and Targeted Sales.

Step 3: Get Certified

You can look for voluntary certifications in order to improve your selling techniques and to equip yourself with the pharmaceutical product knowledge required by pharmaceutical businesses. You can become a Certified National Pharmaceutical Representative through the National Association of Pharmaceutical Representatives.

Step 4: Start Looking for a Job

After you have completed your qualifications and certifications, you can start looking for a sales job in the pharmaceutical industry. Once you are hired, you will be expected to complete on-the-job training.

How Much Does a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative Make?

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has not published specific employment data for pharmaceutical sales representatives; therefore we will use the broad category of Sales Representatives (Wholesale and Manufacturing, Technical and Scientific Products). According to the official statistics, these workers earned an annual mean wage of $92,980 in 2019. The top paying state for these workers in the U.S. in 2019 was Wyoming, with an annual mean wage of $123,710, followed by New York ($114,110), Delaware ($110,130), Colorado ($110,050), and New Mexico ($107,830).

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