How Do I Become a Pharmacy Sales Rep?

Research what it takes to become a pharmacy sales rep. Learn about education requirements, job duties, median salary and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Sales Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information At a Glance

Pharmacy sales reps are responsible for forming business relationships between pharmacists, physicians and pharmaceutical companies. The table below list some key career facts about pharmacy sales reps.

Degree Required Bachelor's (preferred)
Education Field of Study Scientific, medical or technical
Certification Certified National Pharmaceutical Representative (CNPR)
Key Responsibilities Build relationships with pharmacists and physicians, research the needs of consumers and represent pharmaceutical companies
Job Growth (2012-2022)* 10% for all sales representative of technical and scientific products
Median Salary (2013)* $74,520 for all sales representative of technical and scientific products

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Will I Need to Become a Pharmacy Sales Representative?

When preparing to become a sales rep for a pharmacy or pharmaceutical company, you may want to pursue a bachelor's degree program. Though not mandatory, the pharmaceutical industry tends to hire candidates with a college education, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( A strong background in science can help you as you become accustomed to the medical industry. Additionally, coursework in other fields, such as economics, marketing and communications, may be helpful as well.

In some circumstances, you might be able to acquire an entry-level position by only having sales experience and a high school diploma or its equivalent. Regardless of your academic background, companies may put you through a product-specific or sales training once you begin employment. This training can include seminars or supervised on-the-job training.

What Can I Do to Prepare for the Job?

You can earn optional certification through the National Association of Pharmaceutical Representatives (NAPR), which offers the Certified National Pharmaceutical Representative (CNPR) designation ( To prepare for the certification exam, you can complete the CNPR training available through the organization's correspondence option or at more than 300 colleges and universities. The certification program and test focus on medical knowledge, pharmacology laws and sales skills. Obtaining the certification can show prospective employers that you have attained the fundamental knowledge needed for success as a pharmaceutical sales rep.

What Will I Learn in the Training Program?

The CNPR training program covers areas in both sales and science. Potential areas of study include:

  • Medical and pharmaceutical terminology
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Clinical pharmacology
  • Clinical trials
  • Drug sampling
  • Selling techniques
  • Federal regulations

What Can I Expect from the Exam?

Within two hours, you must complete the test. You'll need to answer 160 multiple-choice questions within this time period. Though you can use your training manual when taking the test, NAPR encourages you to become thoroughly familiar with it and adequately prepare before taking the test since you'll have an average of 40 seconds to answer each question.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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