NAPSRx Releases New Compensation Survey Which Quantifies What CNPR Pharmaceutical Sales Reps Expect To Earn In 2015

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Outside pharmaceutical sales representatives can earn more selling certain types of products. In 2013, they earned the highest salaries of $113,252 selling biotech products, according to a recent survey.

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Pharmaceutical sales candidates who have this training will differentiate themselves from other individuals looking for open positions.

A newly released survey from the NAPSRx on January January 26, 2015 shows that an average Pharmaceutical Sales Representative in the United States plans to earn an average salary of $96,814 per year plus additional amounts in quarterly and year-end bonuses. An industry Sales Representative experience does have a moderate effect on pay for this job. y have more than 20 years' experience in the industry. The survey also shows that most people move on to a management position if the skills that are associated with high pay for this job are technical pharmacology training, clinical research knowledge, ability to understand selling regulations, adhere to sales guidelines, strong medical terminology skills, completion of industry certifications and specialized pharmaceutical sales training.

The survey also polled the most common job descriptions for Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives are shown below:    

  •     Attend special training of products or services to understand technical aspects of solutions.
  •     Sell the organization's technical products to established customers or develop new prospects within assigned territory.
  •     Build relationships and identify the prospect's need for the products or services.
  •     Prepare and maintain records for sales leads and progress status of accounts.
  •     Emphasize product features based on analyses of customers' needs, and on technical knowledge of product capabilities.

Outside pharmaceutical sales reps call on physicians, hospital personnel, patient advocacy groups and nursing or retirement homes. They provide samples and pamphlets on new medicines, stressing their benefits over competing drugs, and then sell them to doctors. These outside reps sell anything form common antihistamines and antacids to specialty drugs for diabetics and heart patients.

Salary and Educational Requirements

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an average annual salary of $89,670 as of May 2013 for wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives who sold drugs and druggists' sundries. A better indicator of outside pharmaceutical sales reps' salaries was the average $83,206 salary posted by MedRep.com in its 2013 Pharma and Specialty Pharma Sales Salary Report. Total average earnings for these reps, including commissions and bonuses, were $110,965 per year. The standard educational requirement for an outside pharmaceutical sales rep is a bachelor's degree in business or one of the life sciences: chemistry, biology, organic chemistry, biochemistry or biophysics. Most pharmaceutical employers may also prefer hiring those who are CNPR certified through the Association of Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives. CNPR stands for "certified national pharmaceutical representative," and applicants must pass a two-hour exam on medical terminology and practices to pass it.

Salary by Product Category

Outside pharmaceutical sales representatives can earn more selling certain types of products. In 2013, they earned the highest salaries of $113,252 selling biotech products, according to MedRep.com. They can sell biotech products to companies and labs that use living organisms to create antibiotics, for example. These reps also earned salaries above the national average of $93,206 by selling specialty pharmaceuticals, which can include drugs for heart, diabetic or cancer patients. On average, they made $138,306 in this specialty. Outside pharmaceutical sales reps who sold lab and diagnostic products made $83,356 per year. Those employed by mainstream pharmaceutical companies, selling a wide variety of products, earned $93,206 annually.

Contributing Factors

Most outside pharmaceutical sales reps earn more in large cities such as San Francisco and New York City, because living costs are higher in those cities. For example, a rep earning $85,000 in Atlanta would need to make $191,140 in New York City to maintain the same living standard. In San Francisco, he'd need to make $142,132 -- or approximately 67 percent more. Reps may also earn more working for larger pharmaceutical companies, which likely have larger revenues and budgets to support higher salaries.

Job Outlook

The BLS projects a 16 percent increase in jobs annually for pharmaceutical sales representatives, including outside sales representatives, through 2020, about average compared to the 3-percent growth rate for other occupations. Pharmaceutical companies may introduce new drugs to treat various ailments and increase sales in a highly competitive industry. Forty-nine percent of pharmaceutical companies indicated they'd hire new sales reps in 2015, according to the Wall Street Journal's Market Watch report.

CANDIDATES WHO WANT TO BREAK INTO THIS CAREER

The CNPR® certification program developed by the NAPSRx® provides comprehensive training and education about the pharmaceutical sales industry. The CNPR is a federally trademarked certification you can earn by demonstrating the necessary knowledge in pharmacology, medical terminology, physiology, and regulations for selling pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceutical sales candidates who have this training will differentiate themselves from other individuals looking for open positions. Upon successful completion of the training each student will receive the Certification Mark of the CNPR®.

Individuals that are interested in becoming a Certified National Pharmaceutical Representative (CNPR) can contact the (NAPSRx) for more information or visit the website.

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Brad Sullivan
NAPSRx
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National Association of Medical Sales Representatives - NAMSR
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