What Is a Veterinary Pharmaceutical Sales Representative?

Doctors looking at chart in veterinary hospital
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A career in veterinary pharmaceutical sales is an excellent option for those with strong communication and sales skills.

Duties

Veterinary pharmaceutical sales representatives are responsible for marketing animal health products directly to veterinarians and animal hospitals. Sales representatives must constantly educate themselves about the market and their product, staying on the cutting edge of industry trends and new advances in the animal health field.

There are two types of veterinary pharmaceutical sales representatives: inside sales representatives and field sales representatives. Inside sales positions do not involve much, if any, travel; representatives conduct their business primarily via the telephone and through online order processing. Field sales positions require frequent travel throughout a designated territory, with representatives calling on veterinarians in person at their place of business to sell products or provide training related to such products.

All sales representatives work under the supervision of a sales manager who ensures that representatives meet their quotas for each month.

Career Options

Veterinary pharmaceutical sales reps can move up the ladder to become sales managers or sales directors. They can also transfer their skill set to other sales careers including those within the animal health industry, like veterinary device sales, and those outside of the animal health industry.

Education and Training

Pharmaceutical sales representatives can come from a wide variety of educational backgrounds. A bachelor's degree in an area such as marketing, business, animal science, chemistry or biology is considered extremely desirable for candidates pursuing entry level positions. A masters degree makes candidates even more attractive and greatly improves their chances of advancing in the field to managerial roles over time.

Some vet pharmaceutical sales representatives choose to pursue an MBA to position themselves for advancement to managerial positions.

A working knowledge of sales, marketing, anatomy, physiology, biology, pharmacology, chemistry, and public speaking is beneficial for candidates seeking a position in the field of veterinary pharmaceutical sales. Veterinary office experience is also a big plus that can carry a lot of weight with hiring managers.

Computer skills are also key, as a great deal of the record keeping and order tracking is done through web-based database systems. Once hired, most new recruits will go through a company-sponsored training program and be partnered with an experienced sales rep for a period of time before going out on their own.  After completing the training process, a new sales rep will be assigned a territory and an order quota to pursue in that area.

Salary

The salary for sales representatives may include a combination of incentives including the standard base salary, commission on sales revenues, use of company car, performance-based bonus pay and a benefits package that often includes items such as health insurance and paid time off. Total compensation may vary widely based on sales volume and years of experience but, according to sites like Payscale.com, pharmaceutical sales representatives can expect to earn a salary in the range of $59,122 to $119,826.

New sales reps tend to earn salaries in the $30,000 to $40,000 range.

Job Outlook

Securing a job in this field is not easy as competition is keen for a limited number of positions, but the animal health industry is a niche that is showing sustained growth year over year.