Planning for a Career in Pharmaceutical Sales

Anonymous writes:
Hello I am writing you to ask you for some expertise help on what would be
the best way to go about a pharmaceutical sales rep job — like what should
I major in? Whether to get a bachelor’s or master’s degree? Any info you
could give me would be more that appreciated…. Thank you very much.

The Career Doctor responds:
Before I totally address your questions let me first get on my soap box.
Over the last couple of years the sexiest job opportunity for college grads
and career changers has been pharmaceutical sales representative. During
that same period I think the most misunderstood job opportunity has been
that of pharmaceutical sales representative. Most of the job-seekers I’ve
talked with have this illusion that the job is glamorous offers autonomy
and pays amazingly well. The reality is that this career requires a lot of
work and determination — and if chasing doctors is your idea of glamour
then so be it. High earnings potential? Yes with the right company in
the right location with the right amount of persistence.
I know some former students and clients who are in pharmaceutical sales
and love it — while others who thought it was their dream career have
changed careers yet again. So just do your research and go into this
career with a realistic view.
Requirements vary by company but the basic package you should have
is a bachelor’s degree (in any field though a business field might give
you an edge) and previous sales experience (through summer jobs internships
etc.). An interest in science/medicine is beneficial but not necessary.
Master’s degrees are generally not required — and may make it harder
for you to land an entry-level position.
Because of the popularity (and demand) surrounding pharmaceutical sales
there are numerous books and other sources of information about this career.
Your best bet? Use your network to find a couple of people currently working
as pharmaceutical sales reps and conduct informational interviews to learn
more about their impressions and experiences. Informational interviews are
highly focused conversations with established professionals that provide
you with key information you need to launch or boost your career — and
can often provide you with critical feedback about breaking into a career
your credentials and more.
Learn more about informational interviews in the
Interviewing Tutorial
published on Quintessential Careers.
Conduct research on pharmaceutical sales rep jobs by visiting this section of
Quintessential Careers: Jobs
in Health Care Medicine Pharmaceuticals and Social Work