We’ve all seen them, dressed to the nines, while the rest of us are in yoga pants, sniffly and feeling bad in the waiting room. They work for some big drug company and come stocked with freebies to encourage the doctor to help sell their product.

You like dressing up? How are you with persuasion? You need to really know how to push your product, and that’s going to take not just strong social skills, but an in-depth background in Pharmaceutics. Sales representatives sell prescription drugs as well as medical equipment used to administer them, such as intravenous devices. The clients are usually medical doctors; however, you may also frequent pharmacies and labs.


If you come into a doctor’s office without knowing everything about your product and a lot about the medical field, with nothing but a spiel and a smile, they’re going to see right through you. Those interested in pursuing Pharmaceutical Sales in an entry level position should look into attaining a bachelor’s degree in one of the following:

  • Pharmacology
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmaceutical Sales
  • Pharmacy Science with a minor in Marketing

Common coursework will be:

  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Immunology
  • Anatomy & Physiology
  • Business communications
  • Pharmaceutical writing

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Pharmaceutical marketing or management may be of interest to those looking into advanced positions in the field such as a supervisor role.

Job Expectations

Pharmaceutical Sales positions obviously vary from drug company to another but generally you will specialize in a specific area of medicine, such as psychiatry, gastroenterology, oncology or bio-pharmacology.

Be prepared to spend a lot of time in your vehicle and or outside. Representatives are expected to travel frequently to pitch their products to their clients. You will need incredible communication skills and be proficient in what your product can do for your clients patients. You will also need to foster a relationship with physicians and get to know the needs of their practice. Getting to know the receptionists and nurses, and establishing a sense of trust to get yourself in the door, can take all the finesse of a lawyer or politician.


This is a very high paying job depending on how good you are at selling. Base pays have been reported as high as $113k according to 2014 salary data seen on payscale.com. The median for Pharmacy Sales Representatives is $67k, which is pretty darn high for just a bachelor’s degree needed. Keep in mind, that is just base pay. Sales jobs typically offer bonuses or incentive pay depending on how sales are faring throughout the year.

Of course you need to weigh out the benefits for this type of gig. You will spend a lot of hours on the road, and be doing a lot of schmoozing and pill pushing. You may find it hard ethically at times or just plain exhausting. That may be why many Pharmacy Sales Representatives are in the recent college graduate age group! Juggling job duties and a family life is often difficult in this field.