Pharmaceutical Sales Representative

The people who tell others about new medicinal preparations usually work for pharmaceutical manufacturing companies as pharmaceutical sales representatives. To keep informed about new products, pharmaceutical sales representatives are continuously learning as part of their jobs.

Pharmaceutical sales representatives talk to those who influence the prescription and sale of medicines. Such people include: those who write prescriptions (doctors, nurse practitioners, and dentists), the pharmacists who legally sell the preparations, and the policymakers who determine which drugs are covered by health management organizations and health insurance plans. Some are involved in advertisement of specific drug preparations directly to consumers.

A four-year bachelor's degree (B.S. or B.A.) with a major in chemistry, microbiology, animal biology, or pharmacology is the usual minimum preparation for this career. A better general understanding of the actions of drug preparations is obtained through an entry-level pharmacy degree (which is now in most states a Doctor of Pharmacy [Pharm.D.] degree), requiring six years after high school to complete. People with nonscience baccalaureate majors such as business or marketing will have the most "catching up" to do. In high school a person interested in a pharmaceutical sales career should take college preparatory courses with a science and mathematics emphasis.

A scientist performing pharmacological research.
A scientist performing pharmacological research.

SEE ALSO Clinical Trials ; Pharmacologist

Margaret A. Weck


Clayton, Anne. Insight into a Career in Pharmaceutical Sales, 3rd ed. Northbrook, IL: Marketing Essentials, Inc., 2001.

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