You probably realize there are two schools of thought when it comes to pharmaceutical representative jobs: big pharma is frowned upon or pharmaceutical sales is rewarding.
There is no middle ground. That’s because if you want to charge into a promising career like pharmaceutical sales, you have to fully believe in the incredible impact you make in people’s lives and stand behind the products and top companies that make it possible.
Maybe you have experience in medical sales and want to dip your toes into another industry, or you may be fielding for a new career altogether. Either way, it’s easy to see the vast number of pros to pharmaceutical representative jobs. To make it even easier, we decided to break them down for you:
1. Competitive salary
While not the highest-paid sales reps in the medical sales industry, year over year, pharmaceutical sales companies offer increasing base salaries and commissions for ambitious sales reps. Our 2020 Pharmaceutical Sales Salary Report revealed, on average, pharmaceutical sales reps take home total compensation of $151,217.
A pro of pharmaceutical sales jobs is you can choose how you earn right from the job search! It’s best to work for medium-sized companies if you’re a go-getter because the commission is the highest, meaning you earn the highest potential income. In 2020, pharma reps at medium-sized companies earned an average of $45,186 in bonuses and commissions.
It’s best to work for large pharma companies if you prefer a guaranteed high base salary. Reps who responded to our 2020 survey stated they took home an average of $113,272 in base salary (compared to $109,524 at medium companies).
But no matter what size company you choose to apply for pharmaceutical representative jobs, you’re guaranteed to earn a competitive salary.
2. Generous benefits
Pharmaceutical companies offer more than just great pay; they also take care of their reps. Pharmaceutical sales representatives enjoy work benefits and perks such as:
401k with matching
Stock options/Employee stock purchase plan
Our most recent Best Places to Work survey revealed reps at top pharmaceutical sales companies feel their employers care about them and provide substantial benefits to their families. A senior sales rep at overall 2021 winner Syneos Health shared, “An amazing culture resonates in this company and they put all of their resources into the growth of their employees.”
3. Networking opportunities
Pharmaceutical sales representatives sell primarily to doctors. This puts them in front of many potential customers, clients, and their staff daily. There is an immense opportunity to network on sales calls.
If you enjoy building relationships in the field and growing your network to accelerate your career, pharmaceutical representative jobs offer the perfect way to establish yourself in medical sales.
If you prefer to take control of your career, set your schedule, and establish and exceed your goals independently, pharma sales is a great choice for you. This also means you are less likely to interact with a team or be in direct contact with a superior. You need to be able to problem-solve, think outside the box, and be creative in the ways you connect with your team.
Pharma sales is a competitive industry and drugs are constantly changing function, shape, and color as science and innovation propel the industry forward. This requires sales reps to also take charge of their education, staying informed of trends and shifts in the market as well as learning your own and competitors’ products.
Keeping atop changes can be overwhelming for some people, but if you’re excited by learning and growing in your career, pharmaceutical sales never goes stagnant.
Working in pharmaceutical sales is, by nature, a flexible job. You’re able to set your schedule and plan to meet with clients when it works best for both parties. This can be positive and negative depending on how well you manage your time.
Having a flexible schedule allows you to balance work and your personal life. However, it also enables you to pack more into your schedule to pursue higher commission earnings. It’s up to you to keep from burning out while you strive to hit goals.
6. Valuable products
Pharmaceutical products offer hope, time, and comfort for those diagnosed with various diseases. Pharma reps provide doctors with new and improved solutions to treat their patients. Overall, pharma sales makes an impact in the lives of many, making this a highly-satisfying career.
For example, small pharmaceutical sales company Acella & Avion — one of our 2021 top 3 best places to work in medical sales — focuses on empowering employees to make a difference in the world. A respondent to our survey stated there is “…great leadership with a clear objective on how to make an impact in society and empower and motivate employees.”
Life-saving drugs and preventative medicines are essential. This means the pharmaceutical industry is considerably stable. In fact, more than a decade after the Sunshine Act ( healthcare law mandating transparency of financial relationships between healthcare providers and pharmaceutical manufacturers) and even with shrinking access to doctors, pharma reps continue to find ways to be successful.
Many industries are grossly impacted by major events like the global pandemic and subsequent recession. However, pharma reps remain necessary to ensure doctors are informed of the latest developments and have access to the drugs their patients require.
Job security is arguably one of the greatest pros of pharmaceutical representative jobs. And because pharma reps are so valuable, top pharma companies are reported to take care to retain top talent.
8. Equity, diversity & inclusion
It’s clear there are plenty of reasons for pharmaceutical sales reps to be satisfied in their careers, but pharma also touts the smallest pay gap of any medical sales industry. Across the medical sales industry, women, on average, make just 83% of their male counterparts. However, women who work in pharmaceutical sales make as much as 97% of what men earn.
According to Pharma’s Almanac, 80% of the 25 largest publicly-traded pharma companies across the U.S. and in Europe had Chief Diversity Officers. Furthermore, a Diversity and Inclusion Pulse survey by Russell Reynolds Associates determined more than 74% of global executives believed working for leaders committed to diversity and inclusion brings out their most creative ideas.