Pharmaceutical Sales Salary

Working for the pharmaceutical industry can be an exciting and rewarding career path, and one of the more in-demand jobs in this field is a pharmaceutical sales representative. But just how much is the average pharmaceutical sales salary, and what are the needed qualifications for this post?

Average Pharmaceutical Sales Salary

The average annual salary for a pharmaceutical sales rep in the United States is $81,633.

*This does not include commission.

This is the average of the figures presented by popular job sites, Indeed, Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter, and Comparably.

What is A Pharmaceutical Sales Rep?

Pharmaceutical sales representatives (PSRs) are people tasked with informing clinicians, pharmacies, and other healthcare professionals about the potential medical benefits of their company’s product line. They frequently meet with healthcare professionals to describe the drug’s chemistry, uses, possible side effects, and potential interactions.

A good pharmaceutical sales rep should have excellent people/social skills as they will be interacting with potential customers for most of their effort. A good sales rep should have strong product expertise, high-level prospecting and closing skills, and be able to travel at any given time.

How Much Can You Make In Pharmaceutical Sales?  

A pharmaceutical sales rep’s average salary can differ depending on the company or state you’re in. It’s hard to get very clear information as many compensation models are used. Most pharmaceutical sales reps earn a base salary plus a commission on their sales. For this article, we have focused on the base salary alone as there are too many variables to accurately include commission income.

Pharmaceutical Sales Representative Average Salary

According to popular online job-hunting sites, these are the average salaries of PSRs: 

  • Glassdoor Average: $81,430
  • Ziprecruiter Average: $89,779
  • Indeed Average:  $75,888
  • Comparably Average:  $79,433 

Overall Average Salary: $81,633

With regards to states in the US, New Jersey is one of the best states to be working in the pharmaceutical industry, being home to 14 of the 20 largest pharmaceutical companies in the U.S., and generates over $120.9 billion in revenue each year. Other states like New York, Washington, Massachusetts, and Maryland are also thriving places for this industry.

Best Paying Jobs In Major Pharmaceuticals

How To Get Into Pharmaceutical Sales 

The pharmaceutical industry is highly innovative and continuously progressive, and it’s a field that requires important skills and expertise owing to the industry’s complex and crucial nature involving the manufacturing of drugs and treatments which aim to promote people’s health and well-being.

Pharmaceutical Sales Education Requirements

Higher education levels are often recommended for a career in this field. Pharmaceutical companies generally only hire sales representatives with a four-year bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college. A specific major isn’t required, but aspirants with the following degrees can have the upper hand: 


A pharmacology degree helps understand medications, their sources, their properties, their effects on the body, their therapeutic uses, and their interactions with other drugs in biological systems. It also focuses on formulating and managing clinical trials, regulating drugs, and manufacturing/marketing pharmaceutical products. This degree is the most likely to open the most doors and can give you an upper hand in the pharmaceutical industry, especially if you have a master’s or doctorate.


Aside from pharmacology,  pharmacy is also an important degree for people who want to pursue a career in the various fields of the pharmaceutical industry. The program focuses on identifying, discovering, synthesizing, and formulating biologically active compounds for clinical use and understanding the different factors affecting drug behavior in the body.

Pharmacy, in general, is a challenging degree that involves a lot of analysis, mathematics, a rigorous study of chemistry, and memorization. 


Chemistry explores elements and compounds’ composition, structures, and properties of chemicals. Its majors earn an extensive multidisciplinary science education, a deeper understanding of higher mathematics, and a strong grounding in laboratory work.

A chemistry degree is highly-prized in the pharmaceutical industry, especially a higher-level degree (master’s or doctorate). It’s also an ideal bachelor’s degree that can be an ideal stepping stone before transitioning into pharmacology.


Biology is the science behind living organisms, which includes the origin and history of animal and plant life and their characteristics, functions, processes, and habits. Biology majors develop a deep understanding of the biological organism, which includes molecules, microbes, species, and ecosystems. 

Biology and pharmacology are linked, the latter being a science that uses the basic concepts of biology and chemistry to determine how drugs affect the organism. Like chemistry, biology is also ideal for taking before transitioning to pharmacology. 


Medical degrees can most easily be sorted by degree level and specialization. Degree programs related to different areas of the medical field are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels, such as anesthesiology, radiology, emergency medicine, pathology, psychiatry, surgery, and medical science.

Pharmaceutical companies primarily seek applicants with medical degrees and certifications for research programs or to help in clinical trials.

Pharmaceutical Jobs for Physicians


Nurses play an important role in the healthcare industry by taking on a high level of responsibility for the treatment of patients; nurses are often the main point of contact, providing continuity of care and liaising with a range of other medical practitioners. 

Registered nurses can find many job opportunities in healthcare, especially in the pharmaceutical industry. They can work with patients in their homes to educate them on medication use or with sales and marketing teams while educating healthcare providers about treatment guidelines.

Pharmaceutical Jobs For Nurses

Certifications & Credentials

Having the following credentials and certifications can help you put your best foot forward.

  • Licensure in pharmacy – A pharmacist earns the professional designation after passing national and state pharmacy board exams. They also earn the suffix RPh (registered pharmacist) 
  • Certified Pharmaceutical Industry Professional (CPIP) – This credential is a professional certification program covering product development through manufacturing for the pharmaceutical industry. 
  • Medical/nursing license – Healthcare professionals must undergo sufficient education, rigorous training, and certification before legally practicing.
  • Certified Sales Professional (CSP) – For those aiming to get a career in sales, the CSP® designation is for sales professionals seeking recognition for excellence in handling accounts, dealing with customers, and consistently achieving sales targets.


Pharmaceutical companies are vital in healthcare by providing cures and lifesaving medications and supplements for various conditions, and pharmaceutical sales representatives are responsible for promoting and educating healthcare decision-makers about what their company’s products can offer.

While it can be intense and highly competitive, the salary, benefits, and experience compensate greatly for the work and can open more industry opportunities. Be sure to equip yourself with the skills, credentials, and qualifications to boost your PSR application.

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