Pharmaceutical sales representatives act as intermediaries between the companies that make medications and the doctors who prescribe them to patients in need. These sales professionals visit doctor's offices, teach medical professionals about new medications and serve as an important part of the medical community. A career in this field can be as financially rewarding as it is emotionally fulfilling. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage for this position is $92,010.
These benefits and the opportunity to work in a dynamic field draw a lot of interest for pharmaceutical sales rep positions. However, only a select few professionals get to have such a career. When you dive deep into the world of pharmaceutical sales, you find that employers look for much more than a pharmaceutical sales rep certification and that some "certifications" are scams.
Most pharmaceutical sales employers require candidates to have a bachelor's degree. While the degree can be in any field, specific areas of study stand out in a stack of resumes. Any bachelor's degree that shows your knowledge of chemistry, medicine, biology or even business can help you land a job as a pharmaceutical sales representative. Applicants who do not have a bachelor's in a scientific field can find other ways to demonstrate an understanding of the industry and its terms. Previous medical experience or coursework in medicine can help.
Even most entry-level pharmaceutical sales rep positions require applicants to have some job experience. The field of expertise that an employer requires may vary, but there is some experience that can help in almost all situations. Many pharmaceutical companies like to hire people with previous B2B sales experience. Success in this tough type of business can be worth more than any certification. Furthermore, experience in and around the industry can help applicants stand out.
Perhaps the most important asset a pharmaceutical sales rep can have is an engaging personality. Employers in this field want to hire people with excellent interpersonal skills. Furthermore, candidates should have great communication skills, the willingness to travel for work and a can-do spirit.
While some job listings may ask for certified pharmaceutical sales reps, most will not. There is no legal requirement for such a certification. What's worse is that at least one major certification program has been accused of being a scam. CNPR is fighting legal battles for its alleged con artistry. That's why experienced recruiters in the field do not recommend spending hard-earned cash on programs such as this.