What is a Pharmaceutical Sales Rep Job? Pharmaceutical Sales Explained


Pharmaceutical Sales jobs and Pharmaceutical Sales Reps (also known as pharma reps or PSR’s) have a great reputation attached to their position. This is everything you need to know about the role.

Definition of a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative Job

With exceptional knowledge of pharmacology, Pharmaceutical Sales Reps must sell new products to healthcare professionals such as pharmacists and physicians and educate them in the chemistry, side effects and actions that the drug will have on the human body.

The Difference Between Pharmaceutical Sales Reps and Medical Sales Reps

Pharmaceutical Sales Reps can often be compared to Medical sales reps, but the two have their differences. Medical sales reps are required to have extensive medical experience and are often thought of as having a more aggressive sales technique. Pharmaceutical Sales on the other hand is seen as more of an entry level sales position.

Typical Day in Pharmaceutical Sales

Like most sales positions, the “typical” day in Pharmaceutical Sales does not exist.

Pharmaceutical Sales Reps are expected to be flexible regarding their schedule and may be required to attend meetings out of normal hours. The morning could start with coffee or breakfast with a physician at 7:30am before their work day starts and will also include mornings and afternoons spent making sales calls to potential clients.

Pharmaceutical Sales Reps spend the majority of their days on the road visiting hospitals, medical offices and specialist physician offices.

They often work independently and may put in a substantial amount of overtime hours to be able to earn their commission based pay.

Pharmaceutical Sales Rep Salary


According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual salary of Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives is very high, $86,750, with the majority of reps earning between $52,280 and $149,010. For comparison, the national salary in the United States is $50,756.

Reps can increase their income by increasing their sales and some of the top reps can enjoy perks such as company cars, bonuses and business trips.

Bonus: Pharmaceutical Sales Role Deemed “Recession-Proof”

The industry also boasts recession-proof careers. People will always need drugs to treat their illnesses, so regardless of the market and global financial crisis, the pharmaceutical industry will always provide job security.

Becoming a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative

To become a Pharmaceutical Sales Rep, you will most often be required to have a degree from an accredited university or college.

Generally speaking, pharmaceutical sales companies prefer candidates that have done their degree in Biology or something similar.

Successful candidates usually have science backgrounds that assist them in understanding new drugs and benefit them when it comes to speaking to physicians and healthcare professionals.

Candidates must also have a great track record of selling. You will need to prove how your previous sales experience can be of benefit to the pharmaceutical industry and explain your techniques on hitting targets and KPIs.

Breaking in to the industry can be hard work, you need to network like crazy to make as many connections as possible.

Attend every networking event you can and tell everyone you know of your plan to break into Pharmaceutical Sales, in the hope that they know someone in the industry. It’s also a good idea to use job-matching platforms such as Ideal to find top pharmaceutical jobs that are a great cultural fit for your personality.

The pharmaceutical industry is continually growing and there are never ending investments in to new drug research and products. Pharmaceutical companies spend millions of dollars each year to develop new products to market and it is not uncommon to have only one drug make it to market out of ten drugs in development.

If you are looking for a consistent 9-5 job, then a career in Pharmaceutical Sales may not be for you. But if you are motivated to work in a growing, recession proof industry with the opportunity to represent drugs that could potentially save lives, this career is your calling.

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Kayla Kozan

Kayla Kozan

Director of Marketing at Ideal
Kayla spent the last few years studying Marketing and Entrepreneurship on 3 different continents. Now covering the latest in predictive analytics, workplace diversity and big data. She has a keen interest in tech and discovering underrated brunch spots.
Kayla Kozan