Question: How To Get A Job As A Pharmaceutical Sales Rep?

Guide for Getting Your First Pharmaceutical Sales Job

Taissa Pavliuc, a former Medical Sales rep, shares her top tips on how to break into the pharmaceutical industry and get your first Pharmaceutical Sales job. Use this guide to help you apply for and land your first Pharmaceutical Sales job.

Introduction to pharmaceutical sales

Day-to-day responsibilities include making sales calls, prospecting for new customers, attending team meetings, and a lot of driving. The biggest challenges are sometimes taking on too many projects and needing to balance your time.

Education and experience

Pharmaceutical sales reps have strong scientific knowledge, business acumen, and people skills, and many entry-level pharmaceutical sales jobs require a background in science or business. Some candidates with a Masters or PhD but no sales experience use the usually entry-level sales roles to break into the industry.

How to make your application stand out?

Pharmaceutical sales is not for everyone; you must have strong scientific knowledge, business acumen, and people skills. You will also spend a lot of time driving and traveling as a pharmaceutical sales rep, with some overnight travel possible depending on your territory.

1. What personal qualities and traits make you suited for a pharmaceutical sales job?

I have strong scientific knowledge, business acumen, and people skills, and I am able to work independently and as part of a team.

4. Have you networked or have contacts in the industry?

Begin by asking people you know if they have any contacts in the pharmaceutical industry, and if that goes well, ask that person to put you in touch with someone else who can teach you something.

5. Is there a specific disease area that you are passionate about? Perhaps one that you’ve been personally affected by or have a family member that has been affected by a disease? Is there a specific product that has made a significant impact on or improved your health?

My mother and grandmother were both diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when I was a child, and as a result, I knew I wanted to do something about diabetes and other chronic diseases.

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Tips from my first three years as a pharmaceutical sales representative:

Be creative and don’t be afraid to try new things for your patients’ needs. Aim to build a relationship based on trust and be realistic with your expectations.


This guide provided you with several steps that may help you secure a role, hopefully in an area that you are passionate about in the future. I secured a role as a Medical Sales Representative at AstraZeneca only after networking with several people over 1.5 years, and this guide provided you with several steps that may help you secure a role, hopefully in an area that you are passionate about in the future.

About the author

Taissa Pavliuc is an AstraZeneca Clinical Science Liaison in training who advocates for early intervention with evidence-based medicines and is passionate about improving the lives of people living with chronic diseases through better diagnosis and treatment.

What qualifications do you need to be a pharmaceutical sales rep?

Pharmaceutical companies typically hire sales representatives with a four-year bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college; while a specific major isn’t required, many PSRs major in life sciences, particularly biology and chemistry.

How do I get into pharmaceutical sales with no experience?

To break into medical sales, you’ll need to do the following:

  1. Gain field experience.
  2. Enroll in online or in-person training.
  3. Network and build relationships.
  4. Grow your online presence. Choosing a specialization begins with exploring your personal and professional interests.

How do pharmaceutical sales reps get paid?

Most pharmaceutical companies pay you a salary as well as a commission on the drugs you sell; for example, if you sell 160 percent of one product, you will be paid on 60 percent of what you sell over that quota. The more you sell, the more money you will make, so the harder you work, the more money you will make.

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How much do entry level pharmaceutical sales reps make?

The average annual pay for an Entry Level Pharmaceutical Sales Representative in the United States is $60,099 per year as of April 11, 2021, which works out to approximately $28.89 per hour, or $1,156 per week or $5,008 per month if you need a simple salary calculator.

Is pharmaceutical sales a good career?

Pharmaceutical sales is a popular career choice among job seekers due to its high potential for advancement, income, and benefits.

How long is training for pharmaceutical sales?

According to NAPSRx, studying the book for 60 to 80 hours is the average length of time it takes to complete the online training program to become a pharmaceutical sales rep.

What is a typical day for a pharmaceutical sales rep?

My typical day starts at 5:00 or 5:30 a.m., with the first hour or hour and a half spent looking at reports, being on the computer, and taking care of some administrative tasks. I’m usually out of the house by 7:00 or 7:30 a.m., and I just keep going.

Is being a pharmaceutical sales rep stressful?

Pharmaceutical reps don’t have it easy, as they typically spend their days overcoming Olympic-sized obstacles to get the job done. The first hurdle: getting an appointment with a doctor. Doctors aren’t known for having a lot of free time, and they rarely carve out time just to talk to pharma reps.

How do I get CNPR certified?

After completing the CNPR training program, visit the NAPSRx website to register for the CNPR exam, which consists of 160 questions and takes 120 minutes to complete. Earning your pharmaceutical sales certification is an important step toward a rewarding career as a pharmaceutical sales representative.

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How hard is it to get into pharmaceutical sales?

Pharmaceutical sales can be a difficult industry to break into, especially if you don’t have experience or a network of established contacts. I’ve spent over 10 years coordinating job fairs with pharmaceutical companies and I also actively recruit for a few of them.

How many hours a week do pharmaceutical sales reps work?

Medical device sales representatives, on the other hand, have a poor work-life balance due to extensive travel to meet with clients; the majority work more than 40 hours per week in a stressful, high-pressure environment where meeting quotas is paramount.

Is a sales job stressful?

Sales account manager was ranked as the second most stressful job in a survey by online career database PayScale, with 73 percent of respondents rating the role as “highly stressful.” Salespeople are under a lot of pressure to meet quotas, convert quickly, and keep approval rankings high.

What is the base salary for a pharmaceutical sales rep?

Salary for Pharmaceutical Sales Representative

Annual Salary Monthly Pay
Top Earners $127,000 $10,583
75th Percentile $113,500 $9,458
Average $91,977 $7,664
25th Percentile $73,000 $6,083

How long does it take to get a CNPR certification?

To pass the CNPR examination, the average student will need 60-80 hours of study time, and once they have passed the exam, they should contact pharmaceutical companies.

Does pharmaceutical sales pay well?

According to Med Reps, pharmaceutical sales reps earned an average salary of $133,563 in 2018, down nearly $3,000 from 2017. This is due to a decrease in base salary, which was estimated to be $98,815.

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