Pharmaceutical Sales Degree Program and Certification Information

A bachelor's degree will generally meet minimum education requirements for sales careers involving scientific products, such as pharmaceuticals. Students looking to continue their education or begin new careers can pursue master's degrees in pharmaceutical management or pharmacy administration.

Essential Information

Majors in pharmaceutical science, health science, and chemistry are just some of the options available to prospective undergraduate students interested in pharmaceutical sales careers. Graduates of both undergraduate and graduate degree programs might also consider earning voluntary certification through the National Association of Pharmaceutical Representatives.

  • Program Levels in Pharmaceutical Sales: Usually bachelor's or master's level
  • Program Length: About two to four years
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent; schools offering pharmaceutical science degrees might require the completion of high school coursework in biology and chemistry; master's students must hold a bachelor's degree
  • Other Requirements: An acceptable grade point average (GPA) during the first year or so of undergraduate study could be required before enrolling in core courses

Bachelor's Degree Programs in Pharmaceutical Sales

Bachelor's degree options for students interested in pharmaceutical sales careers include pharmaceutical sciences and health sciences programs with special concentrations in areas like pharmacy administration and biological science. Chemistry programs with tracks in pharmaceutical sales and marketing are also available, though less common. All of these program options require an aptitude for the lab sciences.

Coursework will vary depending on the type of degree program in which a student enrolls. Curriculum for a pharmaceutical sales track, for example, might feature courses in areas of sales, marketing, and promotions. Whereas, a pharmacy administration concentration might provide instruction in financial management and accounting. Common core courses for all program types include:

  • General chemistry
  • Physics
  • Biochemistry
  • Pharmacology

Master's Degree Programs in Pharmaceutical Sales

Students interested in studying pharmaceutical sales at the graduate level can do so in Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs with concentrations in pharmaceutical management or marketing. Some of these programs include a business administration core in addition to courses addressing sales and marketing techniques for the pharmaceutical industry. Program requirements can include anywhere from 30 to 60 credit hours of coursework.

Students also have the option of pursuing a Master of Science in Pharmacy Administration with a concentration in marketing and sales. These programs often require about 30 credit hours of study. Graduate level pharmacy administration programs generally prefer applicants with an undergraduate pharmacy degree. Students with a four-year degree in another field could also be accepted, though they might be required to complete undergraduate pharmacy administration classes in addition to their graduate coursework.

Graduate-level pharmaceutical sales programs generally require students to complete a capstone project or thesis in addition to a comprehensive exam. Program coursework can include the following:

  • Pharmaceutical regulation
  • Pharmacy management
  • Pharmaceutical sales management
  • Health care marketing

Popular Career Options

Graduates of these MBA and pharmacy administration programs are prepared for managerial, sales, and marketing careers in the health care industry. Potential employers can include:

  • Pharmaceutical advertising firms
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Biotech firms

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS includes pharmaceutical sales reps among wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives of technical and scientific products. From 2012-2022, this group of professionals was expected to experience a 10% job growth. According to PayScale.com, pharmaceutical sales representatives made a median wage of $68,092 as of June 2015.

Continuing Education

Prospective sales reps who'd like to get an edge in the job field can pursue the Certified National Pharmaceutical Representative (CNPR) designation from the National Association of Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives. This voluntary certification is available to candidates who pass a written exam.

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