Why You Should Consider a Career in Pharmaceutical Sales After Your Military Service

For a lot of transitioning veterans, finding which industry to pursue a career in, can be a downright complex and frustrating endeavor. If you are a veteran and share the same sentiment, know that you are not alone.

You are probably asking yourself questions like, what are the things that I can be good at as a civilian citizen?

Where can I make the most money?

Which industry has more room for career growth?

Well, if you are a job-seeking veteran who wants to land a good job, we highly recommend that you consider a career in pharmaceutical sales. So why do so many people want to work as a pharmaceutical sales rep?

That’s something that we are here to find out.

What Exactly Does a Pharmaceutical Sales Rep Do?

Pharmaceutical Sales Rep

Image: Vettimes

A pharmaceutical rep is responsible for educating physicians and other medical professionals about the new developments within the rapidly growing pharma industry. They connect healthcare providers and customers, using their knowledge about drugs and treatments necessary for providing cutting-edge care. They are also educators of new products that work with pharmacists, physicians, consumers, and healthcare facilities.

A pharmaceutical sales representative is a person who has a deeper understanding of pharmacology which is, basically, the science of medications and drugs, and their effects on the human body.

When selling a certain pharmaceutical product, the representative must be capable of describing its method of action, chemistry, side effects, and potential interactions with other drugs. A sales rep has the option to pursue a specialized practice like dealing with psychiatric or cardiac medications. The pharmaceutical representative is given opportunities to deepen his knowledge base and make him more attractive to healthcare providers.

Most pharmaceutical sales reps are salespeople who are employed on commission within a certain geographic area. For this particular role, the rep will schedule and attend meetings with healthcare companies, pursue leads, and attract new customers for the company. The rep may also attend industry-related conferences and conduct continuing education for medical professionals.

Experienced reps enjoy the job because of the challenge it provides. The pharmaceutical industry is rapidly growing so there are always new products and treatments that are made available, which facilitates intensive research. They also enjoy providing education about the exciting advancements in the field of medicine.

The Advantages of Working as a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative

So why do people like working in this type of industry? Here are the top reasons why:

1. Flexibility

More than anything else, many medical sales rep value the flexibility that their job allows them. True enough, you have the ability to set your own hours and develop your own schedule that fits your lifestyle. You have this flexibility, as long as everything is going well.

You don’t even have to report to an office.

If you want, you can work at home in your own office, a hotel room, or even from your car. Although you do have a supervisor, you generally only report to him about twice a month. So this is like being your own boss, most of the time.

This career path is perfect for military personnel who want to have more autonomy on the job.

2. Earning Potential

Of course, being a medical sales rep will not be popular if it’s not a high-paying job. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a pharmaceutical sales representative’s mean annual salary is about $89,170. Half of these professionals earn from $53,360 to $111,500.

If you are working under an established company, you get to enjoy lucrative benefits packages that include business trips, company car, stock options, bonuses, medical and life insurance, expense accounts, and more.

Most reps work on commission, so they have some level of control over their earnings. If they can increase their sales, their earnings will shoot up as well.

3. Big Room for Growth and Advancement

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job growth for all sales representatives of scientific and technical products are about 7%. This is roughly the average job growth across all industries.

Increases in income usually happen between the 20 to 30 and 31 to 40 age groups. This is not just an indication that people are making more, but it’s because they are moving up the ladder at a much faster pace when compared to related professions.

According to a report, a sales rep who has been working for six to ten years is capable of earning $58,236  total in commissions. All in all, your earnings as a pharmaceutical representative tend to increase as you put more years in. This doesn’t just mean more money for you, but more opportunities for growth as well.

4. Serve as Experts

As a medical representative, you need to be an expert about the company’s product lines and must be deeply knowledgeable about the conditions that the drugs address. So you need to have a high level of understanding regarding the drugs and the related concerns of the providers.

As a rep, you also need to stay updated about the news and issues that are affecting the healthcare industry. In general, most pharma sales reps have a proper background in science or medicine, or both.

So if you love working as an expert, advising doctors and educating healthcare companies, then this job is for you.

5. Build Meaningful Professional Relationships

As mentioned, your job as a sales rep will have you talking to physicians, healthcare companies, and other professionals. You are not just educating them but you are also building meaningful relationships with them.

Building these professional relationships will not only require a thoughtful strategy but strong communication and interpersonal skills as well.

As they say, your network is your net worth. Your network can make or break you in this type of industry.

What Can a Veteran Do to Land a Job in Pharma Sales?

Fortunately, the skills that you have developed in the military will come in handy when applying for a position in pharma sales. Here are some things that you can do to improve your chances of landing the job:


Do an intensive research about the pharmaceutical sales rep job, what do they do, and what makes them successful. You can start by reading books, articles, blogs, and other research information about drug companies.

Look up pharmaceutical sales organizations and start getting in touch with their members via a phone call. Try to set up a meeting over a coffee. Show up on time and dress professionally.

You can treat the meeting like it’s a job interview. Make sure to bring your job resume and ask the rep if he could share it with his supervisor and request an introduction. If he’s willing, you just got yourself a mentor.

Ask if you could come with him during sales calls. This should be a great learning experience for you which you may list on your resume.

Emphasize Abilities

In your resume, you should put some emphasis on your leadership skills and science and communication course work.

Recruiters for pharma companies generally look for science course works. So it always helps to emphasize your good grades and ability to learn any science related material. You may also enumerate books and outside reading that pertain to physiology, diet, and anatomy. Sales are all about persuasion, so you need to demonstrate your persuasion skills.

Demonstrate your ability to work in a team environment, with documentation if possible. Keep track of your personal accomplishments and collect references from people who can attest to your abilities and work ethic.

Create a Brag Book

This is basically a portfolio of all your personal achievements.

If you want to have a shot with your sales interview, your brag book is a must. It is just as essential as your resume and can further strengthen the claims on your resume. You can refer to the book as some sort of cheat sheet when answering interview questions.

Be Enthusiastic

Last but not the least, don’t be boring.

When answering interview questions, try to use lively animations with your storytelling. Most military recruitment is usually boring but this time, it doesn’t have to be that way. Be personable, friendly, and just an overall likable guy.

Answer the questions with confidence and close the interview by asking questions about the position.

Go Out and Make a Difference

As a pharmaceutical sales rep, your job entails making a difference in the world.

You are selling products that can save lives or change them for the better. The products and services that you provide have a direct impact on the well-being of the patients – that in itself can feel very rewarding.

If you want a career where you’ll constantly face challenges but with great rewards, a pharmaceutical sales representative position might just be for you.

What do you think of this post-military job suggestion? Is it a good fit for you? We’d love to read your input in the comments section below.

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