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Career profile: Pharmaceutical sales

Pharmaceutical sales as a great career for science majors

If you are planning to graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree and you might be thinking about what type of careers and jobs are open for university or college graudates with your degree. I was in that same situation many years ago as I felt that I would prefer wearing a business suit rather than a lab coat for my working career. I wasn’t interested in Petri dishes, Bunsen burners, flasks or dissection tools anymore. I wanted to carry a snazzy briefcase and fortunate enough to stumble into a career field that I would stay in for 14 very lucrative and rewarding years.

This career was in pharmaceutical sales, and it turned out to be a perfect match of science and business. There are many perks and benefits when working as a drug rep in the pharmaceutical industry. Salaries and bonuses could amount to six figures for high achievers and there is the use of a company car. Corporate expense accounts are also available for business entertaining. There are also the travel opportunities that are paid for by the company, and many sales meetings and medical conventions that are often located in exciting cities. Being a pharmaceutical sales representative also means that there is a lot of freedom and independence with the job as fixed working shifts are no longer the way for a drug rep. Even better is that for 95 percent of the time, there is no boss to look over your shoulder while on the job.

Being a drug rep also has some intangible rewards I didn’t expect when I first started. The field involves working with medical professionals to bring them useful products that will greatly benefit their patients. Drug reps with pharmaceutical sales forces can be considered as part of the overall health care team since they are playing an important role in helping patients. In addition, there are many jobs available in this field. Currently, there are approximately 58,000 drug salespersons in the U.S. Most pharmaceutical companies have sales forces of men and women who are professional drug representatives. They are highly trained individuals with expert knowledge on various pharmaceutical drugs, human physiology and sales techniques. They have to be as the main customer groups they deal with everyday are educated healthcare professionals like physicians, nurses and pharmacists.

The role of drug representatives, or drug reps as they are sometimes called, is to promote the use of their company’s pharmaceutical products to healthcare professionals. It is up to drug reps to keep physicians up to date on all the benefits of prescribing their drugs. Drug representatives also make sure that local pharmacies are adequately stocked of their company’s drugs products so when prescriptions come in, they can be filled.

What is somewhat hidden from the general public is that the pharmaceutical industry is quite competitive as drug representatives from different companies are all trying to get physicians to prescribe their products. It’s a form of sales in a high level corporate type of way.

One can easily identify who the drug reps are when going through hospitals or medical clinics. They will be the smartly dressed individuals carrying briefcases that contain information as well as drug samples for the doctors.

Overall, successful drug representatives can enjoy a career with great personal reward and financial compensation. So, if you are a science graduate and want to do something in business rather than in a purely scientific field, consider pharmaceutical sales as a viable career option.

Just remember that the process of applying for pharmaceutical sales jobs, getting interviews and enduring rejections, offers a taste of what the actual sales rep job will be like. Companies are looking for people who are confident and positive, so try to project that attitude.

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