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Pharmaceutical Sales Degree Program and Certification Information

Read about bachelor's and master's degree programs available to prospective pharmaceutical sales representatives. Get information about the curricula, admissions requirements and job outlook for program graduates.

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Essential Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a bachelor's degree will generally meet minimum education requirements for sales careers involving scientific products, such as pharmaceuticals. Majors in pharmaceutical science, health science and chemistry are just some of the options available to prospective undergraduate students interested in pharmaceutical sales careers. Students looking to continue their education or begin new careers can pursue master's degrees in pharmaceutical management or pharmacy administration.

Graduates of both undergraduate and graduate degree programs might also consider earning voluntary certification through the National Association of Pharmaceutical Representatives.

Pharmaceutical Sales Bachelor's Degree

Bachelor's degree options for students interested in pharmaceutical sales careers include pharmaceutical sciences and health sciences programs with special concentrations in areas like pharmacy administration and biological science. Chemistry programs with tracks in pharmaceutical sales and marketing are also available, though less common. All of these program options require an aptitude for the lab sciences.

Educational Prerequisites

While a high school diploma is generally all that's needed for admission to one of these programs, schools offering pharmaceutical sciences degrees might require the completion of high school coursework in biology and chemistry. An acceptable GPA during the first year or so of undergraduate study could also be required before being allowed to enroll in the program's core courses.

Program Coursework

Coursework will vary depending on the type of degree program in which a student enrolls. Curriculum for a pharmaceutical sales track, for example, might feature courses in such areas as sales, marketing and promotions, while a pharmacy administration concentration might provide instruction in financial management and accounting. Common core courses for all program types include:

  • General chemistry
  • Physics
  • Biochemistry
  • Pharmacology

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The BLS includes pharmaceutical sales reps among wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives of technical and scientific products. From 2012-2022, this group of professionals was expected to experience a 10% job growth. According to PayScale.com, pharmaceutical sales representatives made a median wage of $67,024 as of July 2014.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

Prospective sales reps who'd like to get an edge in the job field can pursue the Certified National Pharmaceutical Representative (CNPR) designation from the National Association of Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives. This voluntary certification is available to candidates who pass a written exam.

Bachelor's degree program graduates who'd like to continue their education have a couple of options. Curriculum and admission requirements for master's degree programs related to pharmaceutical sales are outlined below.

Pharmaceutical Sales Master's Degree

Students interested in studying pharmaceutical sales at the graduate level can do so in Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs with concentrations in pharmaceutical management or marketing. Some of these programs include a business administration core in addition to courses addressing sales and marketing techniques for the pharmaceutical industry. Program requirements can include anywhere from around 30 to 60 credit hours of coursework.

Students also have the option of pursuing a Master of Science in Pharmacy Administration with a concentration in marketing and sales. These programs require about 30 credit hours of study.

Educational Prerequisites

Applicants to an MBA program will need a bachelor's degree. In many cases, any major will suffice. Graduate pharmacy programs, however, generally accept applicants with an undergraduate pharmacy degree. Students with a four-year degree in another field could also be accepted, though they might be required to complete undergraduate pharmacy administration classes in addition to their graduate coursework.

Program Coursework

Graduate pharmaceutical sales programs generally require students to complete a capstone project or thesis in addition to a comprehensive exam. Program coursework can include the following:

  • Pharmaceutical regulation
  • Pharmacy management
  • Pharmaceutical sales management
  • Health care marketing

Popular Career Options

Graduates of these MBA and pharmacy administration programs are prepared for managerial, sales and marketing careers in the health care industry. Potential employers can include:

  • Pharmaceutical advertising firms
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Biotech firms
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