Pros & Cons of Pharmaceutical Sales Careers

by Frank Girard; Updated September 26, 2017
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The profession of pharmaceutical sales has grown 300 percent in the last 10 years according to the Hay Group, a firm specializing in studying employment trends. This demand is expected to continue as the U.S. population ages and a higher level of medical care is required. As significant as the opportunity is to work as a pharmaceutical sales representative, consider the pros and cons carefully before pursuing this sales career.

Functions- Job Description

What does a pharmaceutical sales rep do? This job involves representing pharmaceutical companies to doctors, and getting doctors interested in recommending new drugs to his patients. The job also involves developing relationships with new health care providers, maintaining contact with current medical professionals, obtaining information about competitive products, and introducing new drugs to potential prospects according to Sample Job Descriptions.

This job requires excellent communications skills, good interpersonal skills, and the ability to handle rejections.

Earnings Potential

One of the benefits of this job is salary. The base salary of pharmaceutical sales reps averages $40,000 to $55,000 per year depending on tenure and experience, according to the online site Pharmaceutical Rep. Overall earnings make this type of sales job very appealing because the bonuses paid to the rep can be more than the base salary. The bonus ranges from $28,000 to $45,000 per year. Reps usually get paid every two weeks which is convenient from a cash flow and budgeting perspective.

Other Advantages

In addition to salary, another benefit of being a pharmaceutical sales rep is that the rep is given use of a relatively new company care according to Pharmaceutical Sales Job. In addition, the rep receives a liberal expense account to entertain physicians and others socially.

Independence is another big plus. The rep is not office bound and has an opportunity to travel considerable always visiting interesting locations. The rep’s work schedule is flexible and requires infrequent meetings with district managers who are also in the field most of the time.

Disadvantages

Some view the need to continuously study and learn about new drugs as one of the disadvantages of pharmaceutical sales. Pharmaceutical companies continually introduce new products requiring additional, up-to-date knowledge to be an effective sales person. Some reps complain that they are given unrealistic goals about selling against generic drugs according to Café Pharma, a pharmaceutical forum. Another disadvantage is that this job usually requires long work hours, at least in terms of making a large bonus at the end of the year.

Questions to Ask Before Evaluating the Pros and Cons

In weighing the pros and cons of the job to decide if you want to work as a pharmaceutical sales rep, you should gather as much information as possible during a job interview.

The first question you should ask is the size of your territory so that you get a better idea of how much travel versus face to face time is required. The less meeting time with doctors available, the harder it will be to make more sales.

In addition, ask what types of reports you are asked to prepare. If paperwork and keeping detailed records is not something you are comfortable with, you should think twice and give careful consideration to being a rep.

About the Author

Frank Girard is a copywriter and marketing consultant who has been working in the field since 1995. He has published ebooks, including "How to Succeed as a Freelance Marketing Consultant" and "101 Questions and Answers About Internet Marketing." Girard provides freelance copywriting work for clients around the country. He has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of North Carolina.

Photo Credits

  • sales representative image by Peter Baxter from Fotolia.com