Best Pharmaceutical Sales Training Programs of 2021

How to Become a Certified Sales Rep

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The pharmaceutical sales industry is a growing and competitive one and it can be hard to get your foot in the door with a reputable company. A pharmaceutical sales training certification can help you stand out as a committed and knowledgeable sales rep. 

After thoroughly researching the pharmaceutical sales industry and comparing a number of sales courses, we settled on a handful of training programs and courses that can help students become certified pharmaceutical sales reps.

Best Pharmaceutical Sales Training Programs of 2021

Best Overall : The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA)

The University of Texas at San Antonio

The University of Texas at San Antonio

Why We Chose It: This university-based pharmaceutical sales training program comes from a prestigious and accredited institution and covers all the basics of the industry in an online, self-paced course.

What We Like
  • 100% online

  • Six-month self-paced curriculum

  • Reputable and accredited educational institution

What We Don’t Like
  • No access to professors, instructors, or mentors

  • Prerequisites rule out industry novices

  • No job placement assistance

For a university-based certification program that prepares you to sit for the pharmaceutical sales representative (PRC) exam, look into the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) undergraduate certificate in pharmaceutical sales. 

This online, self-paced program covers all the foundational knowledge it takes to be a successful pharmaceutical sales rep, including anatomy and physiology, basic pharmacology, the physiological effects of drugs, drug fraud and drug abuse, evidence-based medicine and study design, therapeutic drug classes, and mechanisms of drug actions.  

Students will leave this course with a firm understanding of pharmaceutical ethics, communication skills, and selling techniques. This is not an instructor-led course, so students must feel confident with self-directed learning.

Admission requirements include a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution or at least two years of professional sales experience in a related field, such as medical device sales, life sciences sales, or technical sales. 

The $2,195 total tuition provides you with six months of online course access and the required textbook. If you can’t complete your course within the allotted six months, you can reach out to a UTSA representative, but you may be responsible for an extension fee. Upon completion of the program, you will be eligible to sit for the PRC exam given by the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs (ACMA).

Best for Pharmaceutical Representative Certification (PRC) : Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs (ACMA)

ACMA

 ACMA

Why We Chose It: One of the most recognizable names in pharmaceutical sales training, the ACMA offers a widely accepted pharmaceutical representative certification.

What We Like
  • 100% self-paced online program

  • Offers payment plans

  • Requires continuing education so reps retain their knowledge

What We Don’t Like
  • No access to instructors or mentors

  • Prerequisites rule out industry novices

  • Doesn’t cover anatomy, physiology, biology, or other life sciences in detail

The pharmaceutical representative certification (PRC) is the most widely recognized credential in the pharmaceutical sales industry. Some employers prefer candidates with the certification while others require it. 

The ACMA PRC course is accredited by International Association for Continuing Education & Training/American National Standards Institute (IACET/ANSI), a recognized accrediting body in professional education. To gain admission to the program, students must have either a bachelor’s degree or two years of relevant professional sales experience.

Students will learn about medical terminology, legal aspects of the pharma industry, basic pharmacology principles, effects of drugs in the body, drug fraud and abuse prevention, and sales skills. 

This PRC course consists of just 12 educational clock hours and the average course completion time is four weeks. It’s self-paced, so you can complete it faster or slower if you’d like. The course fees total $999 which you can opt to pay with PayPal Credit. If you prefer to pay in installments, the course total increases to $1,149. 

Once certified, you must maintain your credential by recertifying every two years by retaking the exam or earning continuing education credits (you need to accrue 10 hours of CECs).

Best for an Intro to Sales : National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP)

NASP

 NASP

Why We Chose It: This non-industry-specific sales certification provides you with basic skills and best practices needed for a successful sales career in any industry.

What We Like
  • Provides credentials for any sales scenario

  • No prerequisites

  • Access to a global network of sales professionals

What We Don’t Like
  • Must be completed within 45 days (six weeks)

  • Students without pharma knowledge may have to pursue additional certification

  • Student support only available to members

With the Certified Professional Sales Person credential from the National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP), you can establish yourself as a knowledgeable and committed pharma sales rep even if you don’t have a degree in business or science. 

This online course covers the foundational skills required for successful selling, including selling styles, communication, marketing, navigating objections, negotiating, presentations, and more. Students will leave this program more confident in themselves and the sales cycle. Tuition for the course costs a flat rate of $695.

There are no prerequisites for this course. Once enrolled, you have exactly 45 days (six weeks) to complete the course. Expect to allocate about a half-hour to coursework each day. To earn your certificate, you must complete all assignments with an 80% on-time rate. Students also have to take a final exam and score a minimum of 80% correct. 

While this non-industry-specific sales training course is a fantastic start, students may still need to pursue additional certifications to learn medical terminology and human physiology.

Best for College Grads : University of Florida Graduate Certificate

University of Florida

 University of Florida

Why We Chose It: For science grads looking to expand their knowledge of pharmacology and pursue a pharma-specific career, this one-semester graduate certificate will position them as experts in the field.

What We Like
  • 100% online

  • Can be completed in just one semester

  • Graduate-level course from an accredited university

What We Don’t Like
  • Stringent admission requirements

  • Expensive tuition

  • Financial aid not available

University of Florida’s (UF) graduate certificate program dives into the deep end of pharmacology and earns students a graduate certificate in medical pharmacology and therapeutics. Students should expect to learn the ins and outs of the pharmaceutical industry, including drug development, biotechnology, physiology, and pathophysiology.

Although you can earn this graduate certificate completely online and asynchronously on your own time, there are deadlines you need to meet. In addition to attending half-hour recorded lectures, you are also expected to write papers and complete problem sets. 

Students have access to instructors via the course platform and an official University of Florida email address, which they’re assigned upon acceptance to the program. To gain admission into the program, you must have a bachelor’s degree in a science field from an accredited institution, or a professional degree or title, such as a registered nurse.

To graduate, students must complete nine credit hours, including one required credit hour and eight elective credit hours. You can complete this program in as little as one semester. Tuition for the UF graduate certificate is $550 per credit hour for a total of $4,950.

Best for Medical Device Sales : Medical Sales College

Medical Sales College

 Medical Sales College

Why We Chose It: Medical devices are an integral part of any clinical institution, and sales reps can gain invaluable knowledge with a certification from Medical Sales College.

What We Like
  • Prepares students for niche sales careers with high earning potential

  • 12 campuses in the U.S.

  • Offers job placement assistance

What We Don’t Like
  • Specialization requirement may feel limiting

  • Hybrid and in-person courses require travel or relocation

  • Competitive admissions process

If you’re interested in selling medical devices and clinical supplies rather than prescription drugs, look into Medical Sales College which offers four niche sales training courses that will prepare you to confidently enter the medical sales world as a specialist. 

Students can choose to apply for spine and orthopaedic reconstruction and trauma, extremities and orthopaedic reconstruction and trauma, sports medicine and orthopaedic reconstruction and trauma, or orthobiologics and regenerative medicine. The fourth course is an especially good route for aspiring sales reps interested in stem cell procedures, platelet-rich plasma therapy, prolotherapy, and similar practices. 

Medical Sales College has a competitive admissions process and a 25% admission rate. Admission requirements include two years of prior relevant sales experience or a bachelor’s degree (which is still preferred even if you have prior sales experience). 

All of the programs at Medical Sales College take 12 weeks to complete, except the orthobiologics program, which takes eight weeks. Courses are also hybrid (partially online and partially in-person), and there is a fully in-person option for the spine and orthopaedic reconstruction and trauma course. 

Because students must attend lectures and coursework in person, they must be able to travel to or relocate to one of the 12 Medical Sales College campuses: Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Cincinnati, OH; Dallas, TX; Denver, CO; Houston, TX; Phoenix, AZ; San Diego, CA; Sarasota, FL; and Wilmington, DE. 

In addition to tuition costs—$12,350 for the 12-week programs and $6,350 for the eight-week program—students will incur the costs of transportation, scrubs, business attire, a personal computer, and an up-to-date immunization record.

Final Verdict

The best pharmaceutical sales training for you depends on whether you want a general certification or a niche certification for a particular facet of the pharmaceutical industry, such as biotechnology. The best route for each aspiring pharmaceutical sales rep also depends heavily on your background, particularly whether or not you have a college degree in a related field. 

We recommend the University of Texas at San Antonio which offers a six-month, online program that will teach you the foundations of pharmaceutical ethics, communication skills, and selling techniques to get you started in your career.  

Compare the Best Pharmaceutical Sales Training Programs

Program Prerequisites Online or In-Person Tuition Course Length
The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) 
Best Overall
BA from an accredited university or two years of relevant sales experience Online $2,195 Six months
Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs (ACMA)
Best for Earning a PRC Designation
BA or two years of relevant sales experience Online  $999  Four weeks (estimated) 
National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP)
Best for People Without a College Degree
None Online  $695  Six weeks 
University of Florida Graduate Certificate
Best for College Grads
BA or prior professional sales experience Online  $4,950 17 credit hours 
Medical Sales College
Best for Medical Device Sales
Minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a scientific field Hybrid online and in-person $12,350 (plus supplies) 12 weeks 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Do You Learn in a Pharmaceutical Sales Training Program?

Pharmaceutical sales training teaches you about the business side of the pharmaceutical industry, including effective communication, marketing, and sales skills, as well as scientific and legal aspects of pharmaceutical sales. 

You can also expect to learn human anatomy and physiology, biology, how prescription drugs interact in the human body, interpreting and analyzing peer-reviewed studies, how to avoid prescription drug fraud and abuse, and matching drugs to common medical conditions. 

What Are the Benefits of Taking a Pharmaceutical Sales Training Program? 

Pharmaceutical sales is a competitive industry. Aspiring salespeople can set themselves apart with a formal pharmaceutical sales education which positions them as more professional, knowledgeable, and committed than their uncertified peers. 

Formal training also prepares you to act responsibly, professionally, and quickly in common sales scenarios, which can increase your chances of closing sales and creating long-lasting client relationships. 

How Much Do Pharmaceutical Sales Training Programs Cost? 

Pharmaceutical sales training programs vary in cost, depending on the length of the program, whether it’s online or in-person, whether it comes from a traditional university, and more. Expect to pay at least $500 for a pharmaceutical sales training program and up to several thousand if you’re pursuing a certification from an accredited university. 

How Much Do Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives Make? 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for pharmaceutical sales professionals in services is $78,100 as of 2020, while those who take on sales and manufacturing can average $83,970.

Methodology

When reviewing pharmaceutical sales training programs, we looked for programs that offered comprehensive curriculums, remote learning, and both industry-specific and sales-specific skills and training.

We also considered the tuition and prerequisites of each program as well the length of study and the reputation of each training provider. All of our top choices offer in-depth pharmaceutical and sales training, certification, and online learning options.

Article Sources

  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing." Accessed April 7, 2021.