While becoming a pharmaceutical sales representative does not always involve getting a college degree, completing a formal degree program can help you increase your chances of landing a position in the field.
Pharmaceutical sales reps, also known as pharma reps, are responsible for networking with physicians and other allied health professionals and educating them on recent developments in the industry and new products or medications that have been developed.
Since they promote products and educate those with the power to prescribe, pharma reps must have an in-depth knowledge of pharmacology and the healthcare industry. While some are able to attain the knowledge and understanding while working with other reps, most pharmaceutical companies prefer to hire reps that have a post-secondary education. Read on, and learn more about the types of college programs you should enroll in to get attention with the leading industry employers.
Earning a Bachelor’s Degree as a Science Major
While there is no actual licensing or degree requirements in the field, a majority of the leading companies in the industry will hire candidates who possess a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. There is not one specific major that you need to select to pursue this title, but being a science major will definitely help. Some of the best majors are life sciences or biological sciences because pharmacology is covered. You can also minor in business, sales or marketing so that your degree caters to your role as a pharma rep.
Earning a Graduate Degree
Most pharmaceutical companies prefer to hire sales professionals who have experience and who have advanced communications skills. College level coursework will help you advance your skills in this department. If you earn a graduate degree in business or life sciences you will be a highly desirable candidate. In fact, most employers will first consider those with a graduate degree and then consider those with a Bachelor’s. While you are not guaranteed a job, if you can demonstrate your ability to sell and communicate the chances are high.
Getting Certified with the National Association of Pharmaceutical Representatives
You do not need a professional certification to sell, but earning your certification does show your competence and how committed you are to the profession. To become a Certified National Pharmaceutical Representative (CNPR), you must complete an accredited training program and then pass the national certification exam. The CNPR Certification Program will familiarize yourself with clinical pharmacology, rules, regulations, medical terminology and other subjects that are helpful when selling pharmaceuticals. Unlike a degree program, the certification program only touches topics relevant to sales in the field. You do not need a degree to take the certification program or to get certified.
To be a successful pharma rep you need to intellectual capacity to understand and then explain the science behind a medication or product. You will also need to be a sales professional who is capable of building relationships and being persistent but not pushy. If you can build trust with high-powered clients and foster business relationships, you could be a great fit for this field. Pay for the top-selling reps can be high, but many sales professionals are commission-based. Make sure you compare different companies, their training policies, and their eligibility qualifications if you are considering becoming a pharmaceutical sales representative.
See also: What Does a Pharmacy Informaticist do?