Do I need to take a “Certification Course” to break into Pharmaceutical Sales?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 13:57

Do I need to take a “Certification Course” to break into Pharmaceutical Sales?
By pharmaceutical sales expert, Lisa Lane. (website:

In your online job-search travels, you may have come across a website or two that offers a pharmaceutical sales “certification” course. The concept is simple: Sign up, pay the fee of $200 or so to get the course, (which is actually a book)  study human anatomy and medical terminology until you are blue in the face and then go back online to take their “certification” exam.  If you are lucky enough to pass, you are emailed a “certification” number. The “certification” companies then suggest that you put this “certification number” on your resume to impress hiring managers and land the job.  Simple and worthwhile?  NO!
I am constantly asked if this “certification” is a necessary step to gaining employment as a pharmaceutical sales rep. Please be aware of the fact that there is NO need to be “certified” to land a job in pharma sales. In fact, many of the managers that I know have actually told me that they find it funny when they see the certification numbers listed on applicants’ resumes.  This is no laughing matter, however. I have seen many spend hundreds of dollars and hours getting certified only to find that they have just wasted much of their precious time and money on these courses. I can see how the innocent applicant can be fooled. The websites look impressive and many will do anything to improve their chances of landing a job in this competitive field.

My Advice? Learn as much as you can about the industry and how to break in prior to interviewing but please don’t spend the money or the time studying material such as medical terminology and human anatomy until you have the job. Pharma companies don’t recognize these certifications and definitely don’t require them. All the medical terminology and anatomy will be taught in initial sales school when you have the job in hand.

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