Pharma Sales Representative: Education Requirements & Career Info

Pharmaceutical sales representatives are professionals in the healthcare industry that strive to introduce a company's portfolio of drugs to the market by discussing the products with physicians, pharmacists or healthcare administrators. They are the first point of contact for information between the company and the client.

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Educational Requirements

There is no set educational requirement to be a pharmaceutical sales representative (PSR), though most positions require a college degree. An aspiring PSR could benefit from having a degree in a relevant field, like the biological sciences, marketing or business. A PSR is typically expected to understand medical terminology, details of the sales and regulations which govern the pharmaceutical industry. Any courses at the college level enhancing this knowledge could improve the employment prospects.

Training and Certification

Most companies train newly hired PSRs to help them understand the details of their products. Vocational certification programs certify that the applicant has met the product and regulatory industry requirements to be a PSR. Through the National Association of Pharmaceutical Representatives, professionals in this field can earn the title of Certified National Pharmaceutical Representative. The courses can be taken online or in a class setting.

Skills Required

More than education, it is the attitude that is important for being a successful PSR. An individual in this field should be outgoing, personable, entrepreneurial, be convincing without being overbearing and possess above average communication skills.

A PSR is typically assigned a particular region or territory. This could involve traveling by the road or by air, overnight stays or being away from home for several days to weeks. A PSR is expected to have in depth knowledge of the portfolio of a company's products, abreast with latest in the market and the products of the competitors. This knowledge may be acquired through training, workshops and seminars. Most of a professional's working hours are filled by meetings with physicians and decision-making healthcare professionals; hence the sales report and other paperwork need to be completed outside of the working hours. It is also important to note that this is typically a commission-based job, and a large part of the salary may be dependent on the sales closed.

Salary Information

The salary of a PSR may vary widely based on educational qualification, experience, demographic location and employer. According to PayScale.com, most salaries were between $44,613-$109,599 in December 2013. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary of the sales representatives working in wholesale and manufacturing, technical and scientific products was $74,970 in May 2012 (www.bls.gov).

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