Find a job

Subscribe for free

All things Pharma


What does a career in pharma sales look like?

What does a medical sales representative do, how much can you earn, and what are the opportunities for career progression?

What’s the role?

The job of a pharmaceutical (or medical) sales representative is:

  • To sell a particular pharmaceutical product to healthcare professionals (HCPs) in medical establishments, including doctors in GP surgeries and hospital teams.
  • Educate HCPs on the drugs and devices they need to prescribe the best care for their patients.
  • Use a variety of channels to reach your customers, including face-to-face sales, as well as online marketing, promotional and communication activities.
  • In a world of patient empowerment, you will also work to educate patients on new drugs, treatments and devices.

What skills do I need?

  • Strong communication skills
  • Persistence and self-motivation
  • Target driven mindset
  • Excellent organisational skills
  • Analytical and planning skills
  • Business and marketing experience
  • Strong knowledge of pharmaceuticals and your own products
  • Knowledge of how the NHS and the healthcare system works.

A background in life sciences, biomedical science or pharmacy is beneficial, but is not essential. As long as you can demonstrate an excellent ability to assimilate information, employers will consider candidates from other backgrounds such as healthcare, nursing, sales and marketing, or academic backgrounds.

By specialising in a certain therapy area or class of treatments, such as cardiac or respiratory, you can expand your knowledge, making you more successful at promoting your products and more trusted and valued by your employer and customers.

How much will I get paid?

Starting salaries typically range from £18,000 to £24,000.

Salaries for those with three to five years’ experience range from £25,000 to £40,000.

Managers and senior-level roles start at around £40,000.

If you consistently meet your targets, you will also earn extra performance-related pay (commission).

Many companies offer other benefits including company car, laptop, mobile phone, pension and private health insurance.


What are the working hours and location?

You will work within your own ‘patch’ (geographical territory), and will usually be home-based, with a mix of home-working and travel to meet clients.

Working hours are usually regular office hours, but you may be expected to work extra, although not at weekends.

What educational background do I need?

Around 55% of medical representatives in the UK have a science degree.

The other 45% come from a variety of backgrounds including non-science degrees and nursing.


What are the opportunities for career progression?

Starting out as a pharma sales representative opens up multiple career options, including:

  • Sales training
  • Area management
  • Product management or marketing-based roles.

Looking for more career advice? Read hereCareers & graduates


Related articles:

Finding a graduate job in pharma

How to get into pharma?

What pharma jobs are there?

What do pharma sales recruiters look for?

Find your dream role at

- Advertisement -
Amy Schofield
Amy Schofield
Amy is Special Editions Editor at Pharmafield. She is an experienced journalist and editor of both digital and print content across healthcare, technology and careers. 


- Advertisement -



Sign up to receive our digital newsletter, for all the essential headlines, Jobs of the Week and thought-provoking features.

Claim my free subscription