What Degree Do You Need For Pharmaceutical Sales?

The Pharmaceuticals industry is often viewed as “recession proof”. Unfortunately this is something of a misconception. While it is true that there is an ever-present need for research and development in the Pharmaceutical field, many companies have reduced their numbers of frontline sales staff in recent years. In spite of this, the role of Pharmaceuticals Sales Representative (PSR) is still one of vital importance and is widely regarded as the pinnacle of sales positions.

Like many high-end sales roles, a career in Pharmaceutical sales offers excellent earning potential in terms of both salary and bonus as well as attractive benefits packages.

Frequent travel, company vehicles, competitive health and life cover as well as stock options are often among the benefits on offer. It also presents the opportunity to work in a highly respected position alongside some of the most intelligent individuals in any industry, influencing healthcare professionals and bring new, life changing treatments to the market.

In fact, competition for Pharmaceutical sales roles has never been higher. Many students cite Pharmaceuticals sales as their career-path of choice and are looking to make the most of their education in order to secure a Pharmaceutical sales position. So what qualifications provide the most benefit for individuals looking to start a career in Pharmaceutical sales?

Vocational qualifications in Pharmaceutical and healthcare sales are not yet common place, however the majority of Pharmaceutical companies expect prospective representatives to hold at least a Bachelor’s degree (BA/BSc) or master’s degree (MBA/MSc) in a relevant field. This illustrates a clear ability to turn information into knowledge and the dedication to implement that knowledge to achieve a long-term goal.

Degrees in life the most relevant fields, sciences such as Pharmacology, Biology and Chemistry are advantageous in this respect. The role of a Pharmaceutical sales representative involves the education of medical professionals in the benefits of the drugs they represent. For this the representative needs to be able to understand how each drug functions and how it affects the body.

Further to this they are required to explain potential side-effects and how the drug interacts with other prescribed medications. It is vital that this is accurate as the imparted knowledge will eventually be disseminated to other professionals and ultimately, to the patients in their care

In addition to the ability to understand and explain each product in a succinct and scientific manner, and the ability to be highly effective in relationship management, networking and sales skills are also integral to the role of a Pharmaceutical sales representative. In this respect a degree in Business or Marketing can be advantageous.

Representatives are expected to maintain close relationships with clients, determine at what stage of the buying process they are in and help to progress to the next stage, resulting in a successful sale and repeat business.

Beyond this Pharmaceutical companies offer on-going training and education to their staff. The first step in the careers of most candidates however is the completion of a relevant degree.

Graham Hawthorn is Executive Solutions Director with CHASE – – a leading recruiter for sales and marketing positions at all levels in both the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries.

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