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Career Profile: Pharmaceutical Sales

Why Is Pharmaceutical Sales a Job of Tomorrow?
As medical technology advances, new drugs and treatments will be created, making work for pharmaceutical sales representatives. Drug companies will continue to develop better products to treat various types of ailments, and will therefore need pharmaceutical sales representatives to promote their products. Employment opportunities for pharmaceutical sales representatives are predicted to rise 12 percent by 2016, according to CNN Money. The average annual salary for experienced pharmaceutical sales representatives is $105,000.

What Does a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative Do?
Pharmaceutical sales representatives are responsible for promoting a drug company’s products at hospitals, clinics and physician offices. Sales representatives are typically assigned to a particular medication, which they then must try to sell to relevant health care facilities. For example, if a pharmaceutical sales representative is working to sell a drug that treats an age-related condition, such as osteoporosis, the representative would choose to visit hospitals and retirement homes to raise awareness of the medication rather than wasting time trying to promote it at a pediatric clinic. Sales representatives educate possible consumers on the benefits and uses of the product. Many health care facilities rely on pharmaceutical sales representatives to keep them current on drug developments, so instead of treating pharmaceutical sales representatives as a nuisance, they welcome them. In some cases, the sales representatives act as quality control, ensuring that outdated treatments are removed and introducing more effective treatments to health care facilities.

What Kind of Training Do I Need to Become a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative?
Pharmaceutical sales representatives do not have a standard education requirement. However, most pharmaceutical sales representatives have a bachelor’s degree in a sales or science-related field, as pharmaceutical sales deal with complex medical data that the representative must understand to successfully pitch the product to other medical experts. Most pharmaceutical companies prefer to hire applicants with a strong educational background in science, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those looking to advance typically earn a master’s degree in a science field because of the highly competitive nature of pharmaceutical sales. Earning a master’s degree generally takes two to three years after obtaining a bachelor’s. Many sales representatives attend seminars to learn how to sell to and communicate with potential buyers.

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