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. Programs and courses are available online.
Admission into a bachelor's degree will require students to have a high school diploma or equivalent. Schools offering pharmaceutical science degrees might require the completion of high school coursework in biology and chemistry. An acceptable grade point average (GPA) during the first year or so of undergraduate study could be required before enrolling in core courses. Master's degree programs require students to have a bachelor's degree prior to enrollment.
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 in these four-year programs 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
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 (M.S.) 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 last two years and 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 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes pharmaceutical sales reps among wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives of technical and scientific products. From 2014-2024, this group of professionals is expected to experience a 7% job growth. According to PayScale.com, pharmaceutical sales representatives made a median wage of $68,414 as of January 2016.
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.
Those interested in the sale of pharmaceuticals have many different education paths to choose from. In general, a bachelor's degree in pharmaceutical sciences, health sciences or chemistry may prepare students for entry level employment, but many go on to earn an MBA or M.S. degree.