How to Become a Medical Sales Rep (Even If You Have No Experience) (2023)

Medical sales jobs will always be in high demand. Despite automation's emergence in nearly every aspect of business, medical sales remains a largely face-to-face industry. In addition, an aging population keeps the field relevant and important.

How to Become a Medical Sales Rep (Even If You Have No Experience) (1)

You're likely already aware of the high earning potential of medical sales. In fact, according to MedReps most recent research, average total compensation for medical sales reps is $149,544 -- with an average base of $92,698 and an average bonus of $63,318.

While it's true that medical sales is a highly competitive field and the workload is demanding, if you're up to the challenge, it's possible to begin building your career and making a name for yourself almost immediately.

It's important to understand, though, that unlike other fields, medical sales is a journey. After all, research from the 2018 MedReps salary report revealed compensation potential is directly linked to tenure in the field. This shows you must be willing to put in the time and work to have a profitable and rewarding experience.

Before embarking down this career path, get to know the industry and figure out how it fits into your own specific career needs.

How to Become a Medical Sales Rep

The first step to becoming a medical sales rep is to choose a specialization. Specializations include medical devices, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology. Next, you'll gain field experience and enroll in training. You'll also network, grow your online presence, and connect with industry contacts.

Here's what you need to do to break into medical sales:

1. Choose a specialization.

Finding the right fit begins with exploring your personal and professional interests. Above all, you must be certain you have a real passion for the field. Medical sales is highly rewarding but it requires a solid commitment. If you're not truly passionate about the industry, you risk becoming overly stressed and frustrated.

Medical sales encompasses a variety of concentrations, including:

  • Medical devices
  • Medical equipment
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Biotechnology

With such diverse options available, job seekers can find an aspect of medical sales that appeals to them and suits their skills.

Most medical sales jobs are actually transactional, but some involve consultation. In most cases, you'll be meeting with health care professionals to discuss your products' benefits.

Some medical sales positions (such as medical coding sales) also incorporate skills like billing and marketing. Meanwhile, medical sales recruiters are focused on sourcing and placing the best and brightest professionals in the field.

Before applying to any medical sales job, use job search resources such as the MedReps blog to find news and advice specific to the industry. The website also features job postings for both entry-level and experienced medical sales reps.

It's important, however, not to be overly swayed by potential earnings.

For example, while the 2018 MedReps salary report revealed medical sales reps promoting health IT/software are the top earners -- making an average of $167,554 in total compensation -- if you're not passionate about emerging technology and stand-out customer service, it's unlikely you'll find much success or satisfaction from this concentration.

Make sure to get a full-picture view of the opportunities you consider.

2. Gain field experience.

Once you've discovered which medical sales niche you're most interested in, it's time to earn some experience.

You've already spent a great deal of time and money earning degrees and certifications -- and those will certainly help. Still, most recruiters place a high value on work experience. This means you should explore opportunities where you can gain experience in the field immediately. These include:

  • Internships with medical sales companies
  • Job shadowing with an established medical sales rep
  • Volunteering at a hospital or doctor's office

You can also gain experience by taking an entry-level job in a medical-related or sales field, such as doing marketing for a medical office, customer service in a hospital, or even vending sales in a hospital setting.

Most medical sales jobs do not require specific certifications. Since these positions rely heavily on transferable skills, most positions require job seekers have an undergraduate degree, but not in a certain concentration.

Instead, recruiters seek ambitious, dedicated candidates. Some of the necessary skills include:

  • Passion for sales and marketing
  • Excellent interpersonal communication
  • Positive attitude and strong work ethic
  • Close attention to detail
  • Organization
  • Compassion
  • Flexibility
  • Desire to help people and have a meaningful impact in their lives

Technical skills in demand for medical sales jobs include:

  • Familiarity with Microsoft Office
  • Technical writing
  • Familiarity with project management tools (Basecamp, Trello, Harvest)
  • Social media experience
  • Big data analysis

How you present your skills to employers is also important. Virginia Franco, the founder of Virginia Franco Resumes, recommends using compelling phrases that explain how your experience makes you the best candidate to assist in the company's growth.

"Add specific examples of your success to show interviewers why you should be their top choice," says Franco.

Franco suggests, for instance, rather than leading with "I am a medical sales professional with more than 13 years of experience," you should write something along the lines of, "Drawing on my more than 13 years of experience, I successfully boosted company earnings by 30%."

3. Enroll in online or in-person training.

Once you've determined your strong points and have a handle on the requisite skills, begin training.

Medical sales employers will expect you to quickly learn the company's processes and procedures. You must prove that you're willing and able to commit to training, so you're ready to sell in your first week.

Signing up for a medical sales training program on your own can give you a head start.

For instance, MedReps partners with Scott Moldenhauer, president of Persuasion Consultants, LLC -- a medical sales training and consulting firm focused on helping job seekers in the medical and pharma sales industry. Other training opportunities are available online through sites such as Medical Sales College and Sales Momentum.

Regardless of the program you choose, you must be well-versed in the current trends and best practices of the industry. That includes industry-specific lingo.

Every industry has certain acronyms and terminology. Getting caught off guard in an interview by not knowing industry terms is not only embarrassing but also potentially damaging to your chances of getting an offer.

The medical sales industry uses many acronyms. For instance, when a professional uses the term ‘ANSI,' they are referring to the American National Standards Institute. DHR means Device History Record. There are many more of these shortcuts to learn.

Get started by Googling industry jargon in your chosen concentration, asking existing medical sales professionals for tips, and taking detailed notes. In your application materials, try to use industry-specific keywords to show you've done your homework. (Just make sure you're using them correctly!)

Lastly, learn and stay on top of emerging trends in technology central to medical sales, such as:

  • Wearable tech
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics
  • 3D printing and desktop manufacturing

4. Network and build relationships.

Professional networking is important in any field, but in medical sales, it's essential. While the industry gets larger every day, you'll likely encounter the same people as you progress in your career. That's why you need to be able to show you're able to build and maintain lasting professional relationships.

Having industry contacts will also greatly improve your job placement chances. Recruiters want to know there are other people who trust and believe in you -- personally and professionally. Mastering the art of networking sets you apart from other job seekers and shows that you're focused on more than just earning the necessary credentials.

Even if you don't currently have connections, you should be able to prove you're a people person. This means getting recommendations and character references from a variety of people, including:

  • University professors
  • Former employers
  • Professional contacts
  • People you've done business with
  • Landlords

LinkedIn allows users to collect recommendations and references from anyone within their network. It's wise to join networking groups as well -- both in person and online.

5. Grow your online presence.

Today's medical sales recruiter seeks a "total picture" view of candidates. They're increasingly turning online to learn more about job seekers, including their interests and hobbies, personal and professional background, and more.

In fact, MedReps' survey What Medical Sales Recruiters Look for in the Digital Age found 76% of recruiters go online before deciding whether to reach out. It's important to have a strong online presence.

Creating and maintaining a personal website and portfolio is a great way to get recruiters' attention. In addition, posting relevant and insightful information to social media shows you're connected to current and emerging trends.

By showcasing your talent and knowledge and building an audience around your posts, you also demonstrate that others are interested in your content enough to like, follow, and share it.

How to Become a Pharmaceutical Sales Rep

  1. Earn a bachelor's degree.
  2. Enroll in a training program.
  3. Get licensed or certified.
If you're interested in becoming a pharmaceutical sales rep, here are the steps that are specific to this role.

1. Earn a bachelor's degree.

Required education will vary by employer, but to become a pharmaceutical sales rep, you'll likely need a bachelor's degree. According to MedReps 2018 Pharmaceutical Sales Salary Report, 98% of the reps surveyed have a four-year college degree or higher.

Here are some of the degrees a pharma rep can earn:

  • Pharmaceutical business
  • Pharmacology
  • Business and marketing

2. Enroll in a training program.

Before you start with any training program, determine how you learn best. For example, if you're a hands-on learner, spending hours online or in a classroom simply reading information won't help you fully grasp the concepts. On the other hand, if you prefer to learn through study guides and checklists, "learn by doing" programs aren't the best fit.

You'll also need to decide what kind of learning is best suited to your schedule and lifestyle. Online programs offer flexibility, however, on-site programs allow you to ask the instructor and classmates questions and receive immediate answers, rather than having to wait days for email responses.

The in-person nature of on-site learning also presents valuable networking opportunities. You'll be able to make contacts and begin building a professional network that can help you find and secure pharmaceutical sales jobs while continuing your development.

Once you're in a pharmaceutical sales role, as with any medical sales position, you'll want to stay on top of industry information and continue to expand your sales knowledge. Employers often provide on-the-job training, and likely have recommendations for continuing your education.

3. Get licensed or certified.

Certifications might not be required by all employers, but they can help with career advancement and improve your industry and sales knowledge. The National Association of Pharmaceutical Sales Reps offers training courses and a certification to become a Certified National Pharmaceutical Representative (CNPR).

Before a pharmaceutical sales rep can begin, employers often want them to have an understanding of pharmacology, selling, and medical terminology -- and the CNPR Certification program teaches this information. And when you're ready, you'll take the CNPR Examination. It's a two-hour exam that requires a minimum score of 80% to pass.

Completion of the program helps current pharma sales reps stay up-to-date on the industry and selling techniques. And it gives individuals who'd like to break into pharmaceutical sales an introduction to sales, pharmacology, and industry guidelines and standards.

Medical sales is a thriving and exciting industry. And owing to continual progress in medical technology and a growing population's increased demand for healthcare products, there is great job security in the field and a promising future for anyone with the passion and drive for medical sales success.

If you're trying to determine which sales role is right for you, check out these common sales job types next.

Topics: Sales Jobs


Is it hard to get into medical sales? ›

Yes, it is hard to become a medical sales representative.

This field is demanding and competitive, making it hard to break in, but if a person is persistent, they will find a rewarding career.

Is being a medical sales rep worth it? ›

High Compensation: the average compensation in medical sales is $155,358/yr. The top sales representatives consistently earn $400K+ each year. Managers, Directors, and VPs can earn $1M+ each year. Great Benefits (Car, Phone, Meals, etc.): depending on the company, the benefits are fantastic.

How stressful is medical sales? ›

Medical device sales jobs can be very stressful.

Being a medical device sales professional can be stressful at times. The responsibility of selling a product that is important to people's health is heavy, and the pressure to perform and meet quotas can be overwhelming, but at the end of the day, it's just a job.

What should I study for medical sales? ›

Your major should be focused on health care or life sciences and include studies in subjects like biology, chemistry, zoology and physics. To further help you in a career in medical sales, a minor or some education is business, communications and marketing are also helpful.

How many days a week do medical sales reps work? ›

The number of hours a medical sales rep works per week depends on the specialty. On one extreme, representatives in Trauma & Extremities typically work 60 - 70 hours per week and are on-call every other weekend.

Do medical sales reps travel a lot? ›

Travel is a regular part of working as a medical sales rep. Medical sales reps have to be comfortable with frequently traveling to meet with customers. Depending on the company a rep works for, they might travel within a small geographic area by car or they might need to fly to and from meetings with customers.

Is it hard to get hired by Stryker? ›

Applying for a job at Stryker is not challenging, although the hiring process can take a long time due to the high volume of applicants. On average, an applicant will wait three months to finish the interview process. Stryker is strict about how you apply. You cannot apply by social media or email.

How to get hired by Stryker? ›

What to expect during the Stryker recruitment process
  1. The application process. (Approximately 3 - 25 minutes) ...
  2. Recruiter phone interview. (Approximately 1 - 3 weeks after application is submitted) ...
  3. Hiring manager phone interview. ...
  4. The Gallup interview. ...
  5. Final stage interviews. ...
  6. Selection. ...
  7. Offer. ...
  8. Onboarding.
Jul 15, 2022

Are medical sales reps happy? ›

This percent itself is higher than the national average for job satisfaction in the United States. As a Medical Sales Representative, job satisfaction is not something to stress. You will most likely be happy with your position in terms of salary, commission, work environment, opportunity for growth, and tasks.

What is the best medical sales company to work for? ›

Top 10 Large Employers
  • Teleflex.
  • Medtronic.
  • Abbott.
  • Stryker.
  • Janssen / Johnson & Johnson.
  • Boston Scientific.
  • AbbVie.

Are people in medical sales Happy? ›

An annual survey of medical sales representatives finds that a majority are satisfied with their profession.

Does GPA matter for medical sales? ›

Your GPA won't tell recruiters how much you know about the medical devices or medications they sell or how well you can sell them. What recruiters are looking for instead: The most important thing when applying for medical sales jobs is your experience and proven sales record.

How do you know if medical sales is right for you? ›

We've outlined the most basic considerations when deciding if becoming a medical sales representative is right for you:
  • Education and experience. ...
  • Personality. ...
  • Working environment. ...
  • Travel and flexibility. ...
  • Salary and benefits.

Is medical sales a secure job? ›

Yes, medical sales is a good career option.

Because of this, there is great job security in the field and a promising future for those who have the passion and drive for medical sales success.

What should I wear to a medical sales rep interview? ›

Wear a business suit and dress conservatively. Men should be clean-shaven and have hair of an appropriate length. Ladies must be careful not to wear too much makeup, too much perfume or anything that might be revealing.

Do medical sales reps work long hours? ›

There's also big room for advancement. However, medical device sales representatives have poor work-life balance with extensive travel to meet with clients. The majority works beyond 40 hours per week in a stressful, high-pressure environment where satisfying quotas is paramount.

Are medical device reps on call? ›

CMF Sales Representatives will work between 6:30AM to 7PM are typically on call every other weekend. Top CMF reps can earn between $200K - $350K. As is the case with most roles in orthopedic specialties, a CMF representative will frequently spend the day surgery advising the surgeons on how to use the products.

What is age limit for medical representative? ›

Most of pharmaceutical companies prefer to appoint medical representatives at age limit 23-27 years. Some companies allow age limit of 23 years, some 24 and some 27.

What will be your first responsibility as a medical representative? ›

The medical representative's responsibilities include persuading potential customers to purchase company medications, identifying prospective business opportunities for the company, and providing the relevant departments with customer feedback. You should also be able to attend company meetings and training sessions.

What are the weakness of a salesperson? ›

Need for approval. Need for approval becomes a weakness when a salesperson cares more about being liked than they care about closing business. Taking criticism or bad attitudes personally is never a good thing, but it's especially dangerous in sales, where reps regularly deal with rejection.

What is the lifestyle of a medical sales rep? ›

Most reps don't have a medical degree, yet spend hundreds of hours training on products and surgical techniques and often attend as many procedures as physicians do. Reps also devote a massive amount of time to coordinating schedules, traveling to get to cases and prepping to enter procedure rooms.

Is medical representative a stressful job? ›

It is not an easy job. The Medical Sales representative profession is a high-risk sector for job stress with negative consequences for individuals. It requires more skills, wider knowledge and emotional stability than the other profession.

What is the hardest industry to recruit for? ›

What are some of the hardest roles to fill? The hardest roles to fill are tech workers, healthcare professionals, sales, and product/project managers based on recorded data. Let's find out why recruiters and talent acquisition professionals have difficulty finding talent in these fields.

What is the hardest job to interview for? ›

According to Glassdoor, jobs at hospitals top the list for difficult interviews, with interviews ranking 9.7 percent more harder than average, compared to other industries.

Do you need a degree to work for Stryker? ›

Bachelor's degree in a technical field preferred. 3-5 years of related experience in the field of medical equipment, operating rooms, central sterile or biomedical experience preferred.

What is the easiest job to get hired? ›

The top easiest jobs to get are waiting tables, a customer service specialist, and a retail clerk. Most of these jobs listed require great customer service skills and strong communication skills. It's important to remember that your idea of an easy job may differ from another person, so find a job that fits your needs.

How can I get hired quickly? ›

10 steps for getting hired fast
  1. Attend a hiring event. ...
  2. Apply to a company with multiple openings. ...
  3. Use your connections. ...
  4. Apply for jobs that closely match your skill set. ...
  5. Take a job as a starting point. ...
  6. Apply for an internal position. ...
  7. Use a recruiter. ...
  8. Craft a great cover letter.
Nov 12, 2020

Is being a medical device sales rep hard? ›

Working as a sales representative in the medical industry can be challenging. This professional involves a lot of hard work and determination to be successful, and the importance of the job has only increased in recent years. Fortunately, those who choose to work in this field are no strangers to hard work.

What is the difference between medical sales and pharmaceutical sales? ›

Pharmaceutical sales are more about the relationship factor, rather than the hands-on technical aspect as seen in medical device sales. To be in medical device sales, reps need to expect unpredictable service calls and have the motivation to continually check-in on products to ensure everything is running smoothly.

Why should I go into medical device sales? ›

Whether you opt to work with medical devices or new medical drugs, the product you sell could prolong a patient's life by years - or drastically improve the quality of life for a person with a chronic disease. For many sales representatives, that's a key reason for working in the industry.

Why do drug reps make so much money? ›

With most pharmaceutical companies you get a salary and you also get paid commission on your drugs that you sell. So, if you sell 160 percent of one product, you get paid on 60 percent over that quota. The more you sell the more you make, so the harder you work, the more money you make.

What is the average age of a pharmaceutical sales rep? ›

47 years old

What doctors want from sales reps? ›

Doctors Expect Upfront and Clear Information

Yes, physicians want useful facts and evidence. They want to know the sales rep understands the medical practice's patients. But they also want a number of other things upfront, such as drug prices.

How do I get hired in medical sales? ›

Based on our research, here is how you can break into medical device sales with no experience:
  1. Secure an Internship at a Medical Device Company. ...
  2. Start with a Local Distributorship. ...
  3. Gain Sales or Marketing Experience. ...
  4. Be a Calculated Networker. ...
  5. Strategically Position Your Resume.
Jul 21, 2021

Is medical sales hard to get into? ›

Yes, it is hard to become a medical sales representative.

This field is demanding and competitive, making it hard to break in, but if a person is persistent, they will find a rewarding career.

How do you move up in medical sales? ›

Utilize social media, forums, and medical device conferences to meet other professionals in the industry. Online, LinkedIn groups and industry specific forums like MedZilla are huge opportunities for medical device sales reps. Although a bit less specific, apps like r/sales have great networking opportunities.

What do employers look for in medical sales? ›

But to be successful in medical sales, you need more than just a great product. You need to be knowledgeable about the healthcare industry, have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and be able to sell yourself as much as you sell the product.

Do you make a lot of money in medical sales? ›

Medical sales can be an incredibly lucrative field. According to a study by MedReps, the leading industry website for medical sales professionals, the average yearly total compensation in 2021 for medical sales reps was $172.5k. (This is base salary plus commission.)

Is working in medical sales a good career? ›

Yes, medical sales is a good career option.

Medical sales is a thriving and exciting industry. This is largely due to the continual progress in medical technology and a growing population's increased demand for healthcare products.

What type of person would be best for a career in medical sales? ›

You need to be knowledgeable about the healthcare industry, have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and be able to sell yourself as much as you sell the product.

What type of medical sales makes the most money? ›

4. Income by Product and Market
  • According to Med Reps, pharmaceutical sales reps boasted an average salary of $158,013 in 2021. ...
  • Currently, the new leaders for top income are capital equipment/durable medical equipment sales representatives, with the highest total annual compensation of $188,351.
Jan 7, 2022

Which medical sales company pays the most? ›

top performer earnings as of June 9th, 2022.
  • Highest Paying Pharmaceutical Jobs for Sales Professionals.
  • #5 – IQVIA. ...
  • #4 – Abbott Labs. ...
  • #3 – Boston Scientific. ...
  • #2 – Medtronic. ...
  • #1 – Stryker. ...
  • Conclusion.
Jun 9, 2022

What do you say in a medical sales interview? ›

Be specific, passionate, and professional, show enthusiasm, and speak about what they want rather than what they need. I also tell them to speak in terms of “I” not “we.” They can always address the team player issue when asked.

What qualifications do you need to be a medical rep? ›

You'll need:
  • excellent verbal communication skills.
  • the ability to sell products and services.
  • customer service skills.
  • the ability to use your initiative.
  • the ability to work well with others.
  • persistence and determination.
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure.
  • ambition and a desire to succeed.

Is pharmaceutical sales or medical sales better? ›

While your base salary may be lower than in pharmaceutical sales, usually the upside is higher. Pharmaceutical comp plans usually pay quarterly bonuses while medical sales companies usually pay an uncapped monthly commission. As you can see from above, there are major differences between these two types of sales.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: The Hon. Margery Christiansen

Last Updated: 11/26/2023

Views: 6212

Rating: 5 / 5 (50 voted)

Reviews: 81% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: The Hon. Margery Christiansen

Birthday: 2000-07-07

Address: 5050 Breitenberg Knoll, New Robert, MI 45409

Phone: +2556892639372

Job: Investor Mining Engineer

Hobby: Sketching, Cosplaying, Glassblowing, Genealogy, Crocheting, Archery, Skateboarding

Introduction: My name is The Hon. Margery Christiansen, I am a bright, adorable, precious, inexpensive, gorgeous, comfortable, happy person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.