I was asked recently about the National Association of Pharmaceutical Representatives (NAPRx) –specifically, whether or not the training certificate program they offer is an adequate substitute for a 4-year degree if the end goal is breaking into pharmaceutical sales as a sales rep.

There are a couple of ways to answer this question, so here goes: 

First of all, my opinion is that no certificate program is an adequate substitute for a 4-year degree.  There’s just no substitute available for a solid science background if you’re going into medical sales.  Remember–the customers in this area DO have science degrees.  If you don’t, it will be apparent that you don’t.  My top candidates all have 4-year science degrees AND some kind of sales/business experience.

Second, all of the areas of medical sales (laboratory sales, clinical diagnostics sales, biotech sales, DNA products sales, cellular products sales, molecular sales, hospital equipment sales, imaging sales, surgical supplies sales, medical device sales, pathology sales, histology, medical software sales), pharmaceutical sales is the most volatile and the least respected –partly because pharmaceutical sales reps as a whole (though there are exceptions) bring the least value.  The effectiveness of the pharmaceutical sales force is declining–and layoffs are everywhere.

Reading job descriptions and requirements will give you a much better idea of where to focus your prep time to get into medical sales.  Go to my website (www.phcconsulting.com) for job listings.

To find out how to make the most of the experience you do have, see How to Get Into Medical Sales, Volume One:  The Documents.  It will let you know what employers are looking for, teach you how to effectively market yourself, and show you how to create and use everything you’ll need for a successful interview.

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