How Can I Become a Pharmaceutical Drug Rep?

Explore the career requirements for pharmaceutical drug reps. Get the facts about education and certification requirements, salary, and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Healthcare Management & Public Safety Leadership degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Pharmaceutical Drug Rep?

A pharmaceutical drug rep generates sales for pharmaceutical companies by talking to physicians and pharmacists about their customers' concerns, then building relations and contracting with those physicians and pharmacists. They need to have excellent communication skills in order to build a rapport with their clients and need very good knowledge of the medicines they are selling in order to answer client questions. They also must be able to adjust the content of their pitches and presentations to match the customer in question. Additionally, pharmaceutical drug reps must prepare feedback and reports to their superiors on how well a particular product performs in the market.

See the table below to learn more about pharmaceutical drug reps.

Degree Required Bachelor's
Education Field of Study Scientific or technical
Certification Certified Sales Professional (CSP), optional
Key Responsibilities Cultivate relations with physicians and pharmacists, learn about consumer needs and represent drug manufactures
Job Growth (2018-2028)* 4% (for all sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing, technical and scientific products)*
Median Salary (2019)* $78,959**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **

What Would I Do as a Pharmaceutical Drug Representative?

As a representative for a drug manufacturer, you would be expected to generate sales by contacting physicians and pharmacists and informing them about the features of your products. This work may involve developing prospects, including 'cold-calling' new potential customers. You may be required to travel to speak directly to your potential customers and to distribute samples.

What Skills and Aptitudes Would Contribute to My Success?

The primary skills necessary for a sales representative include excellent communication capabilities for developing long-term relationships with physicians and other medical professionals. You would balance friendliness and a positive attitude with persuasiveness to close a sale, which might require several months. Such traits as patience, perseverance and goal-orientation will contribute to your success. Problem-solving skills and the ability to work both collaboratively and independently would be helpful in this profession as well. You should have a clean-cut, professional appearance when approaching your customers in person.

What Education or Training Is Required?

To become a pharmaceutical sales representative, employers would prefer that you hold a bachelor's degree, preferably in a scientific or technical major. Once a pharmaceutical manufacturer hires you, training about their products will be provided by the company. You may also receive on-the-job training in sales consultation techniques. You may choose to attain the Certified Sales Professional designation through the Manufacturers' Representatives Educational Research Foundation (MRERF). The certification process involves three days of intensive seminars comprised of three components: managing stress and maintaining a positive attitude, the selling process itself and general business skills.

How Much Do Drug and Pharmaceutical Reps Earn?

According to, the median annual wage for a pharmaceutical sales rep was $78,959 in 2019. Your compensation would be partly derived from sales commissions, based on the value of the sales you close. Also, you might earn bonuses based on your overall performance, such as achieving certain sales goals.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are a number of different career paths that may be appealing to you if you are interested in pharmaceutical drug sales. One such option is to become a buyer and purchasing agent for an organization, communicating with suppliers and evaluating stock quality in order to negotiate the best possible deals for the items they need. Similarly, you may want to become a sales engineer. These professionals sell scientific and technological products to clients, requiring them to have an in-depth knowledge of their wares and how they work. Like pharmaceutical drugs representative positions, these careers are available to those who have earned a bachelor's degree.

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