Is Medical Device Sales Right For You?

Is medical device sales a good career?


The US economy is in a state of change.

The Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is the single most-watched factor in calculating the health of the economy, fell at a record 32.9% in the second quarter of 2020, though the drop was less severe than initially predicted.

As of July 2020, there were approximately 8.4 million workers who were forced to work part-time hours due to reduced business or job availability. The current state of uncertainty has a lot of American workers closely examining their career choices and their job security.

Many Americans who have been laid off or had their work hours reduced are taking advantage of opportunities to expand their world experience and increase their marketability.

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Some seek to advance in their current career path, while others seek out new experiences and opportunities altogether.

One opportunity that may satisfy a worker’s desire for change and their need for better job security is the field of medical device sales.

What does a medical device sales rep do?


The medical device sales representative works for a medical supply manufacturer or wholesaler and reaches out to buyers:  hospitals, nursing homes, doctor’s offices, or dental offices. The sales person markets the products to these buyers and secures contracts to sell to them.

These products could be expensive, technologically advanced devices such as prosthetic limbs or MRI machines, or they could be simple consumable items like gloves and other protective equipment.

The salesperson must not only seek out and attract new business; they must maintain a healthy work relationship with existing clients so that they do not look elsewhere for good prices and customer service.

Representatives visit and cold-call locations, attend meetings and conference calls, and maintain positive relationships with hospital staff and other pertinent clientele. The job requires a great deal of travel over an established geographical area.

How much money can you make in medical device sales?


A medical device sales representative typically earns both a base salary and a commission. The commission usually consists of about one-third to one-half of the overall salary and varies depending on experience, specialty, and the amount of time a person spends traveling.

The medical survey group MedReps reported in their 2019 survey of over two thousand respondents an average salary, including commission and bonuses, of $165,716. This indicates a 9% increase over the previous year. The biggest contributing factor was an increase in sales commissions and bonuses.

When this year’s MedReps survey went out in March 2020, 85% of respondents said that they expected to earn less money than the year before due to hospitals and doctors’ offices limiting elective visits and procedures.

So far, however, respondents have reported an average increase from $83,542 to $98,186.  Medical equipment sales jobs continue to be lucrative in the face of economic uncertainty.

Do you need a degree for medical device and pharmaceutical sales?


Getting into the field of medical device sales does not technically require any special certification, but in order to achieve the most success, salespeople should plan on getting at least a four-year degree.

Students are encouraged to seek their degrees in either biology or engineering to enhance their knowledge of the products they will be selling.

There is no on-the-job training in this field, so students are asked to seek job experience in the sales field while they are in school. New hires are usually expected to make their first sale within a week of their starting day, so it is imperative for a medical sales person to know how to do the job from the very beginning.

The best way to achieve success in this field is to choose a specialty to sell in, such as surgical supplies, dental, or gynecology. It is extremely important for a medical device sales representative to be thoroughly educated and knowledgeable about the product they are selling.

Because the salary depends heavily on commission, the sales person’s income will vary depending on the overall cost of the equipment.

One option that will give potential salespeople an edge in acquiring a good-paying job is a certification.

The National Association for Medical Sales Representatives (NAMR) administers the Registered Medical Sales Representative certification (RMSR), a credential that rewards training in the medical device sales field, helps professionals in the biotech industry advance their careers, and helps managers improve their hiring practices.

The National Association of Pharmaceutical Sales (NAPSRx), offers a similar credential for people working in the more specialized pharmaceutical sales industry.

What makes a good medical device sales rep?


The personal characteristics required for an effective medical device sales representative are those associated with an extroverted personality.

A sales representative needs to have good verbal skills and a willingness to engage with others under any circumstances. Customer service as an industry requires strong communication skills, especially in the area of problem-solving.

There will always be times when a customer has a problem or is dissatisfied, and it is the sales representative’s job to correct the issue.

According to Gallup, basic customer satisfaction is less important for customer retention than personal engagement. A salesperson needs to meet with customers and not only solve their problems but make the customer feel heard and understood so that they are engaged on an emotional level.

Personal connection leads to customer loyalty in a way that simply meeting the customer’s economic needs does not.

A willingness to travel and the ability to adapt to challenges are also necessary. Interpersonal interaction is always unpredictable, and a good salesperson must be able to rise to challenges at a moment’s notice. The ability to think on one’s feet will be crucial to success in this field.

A medical device sales representative must also be willing to continue their education and training as needed in order to stay relevant in the field of biotechnology. Healthcare technology is always changing with scientific advancements and new studies in effective methods of treatment, so salespeople in the field must always be aware of those changes and alter their methods and recommendations accordingly.

To be good in sales means to be good at forging and maintaining relationships with buyers, which means that the consumer must be able to trust the salesperson’s judgment when it comes to the products they are selling. Share on X

This is why a degree in biology or engineering is preferred over a degree in sales or marketing.

Is medical device sales stressful?


A common question for those in this field is whether the job is stressful.

Stress can be a positive or negative force, depending on the personality and temperament of the individual.

Suffice it to say, like any role dealing with the public, there are ups and downs.  How those ups and downs are managed at the individual level is a better indicator of whether the role is perceived as stressful or invigorating.

The quick thinking and engagement required to do the job effectively could be a source of positive energy for an extroverted person who thrives on change.

The MedReps survey of 2019 reported that 76% of respondents were “very satisfied” with their jobs overall.

This is despite only 22% of the respondents saying that they were “very satisfied” with their current salary. This suggests that though medical device sales pays well, the real job satisfaction is in the work itself.

What are the pros and cons of medical device sales?


Medical device sales as a career has many pros and cons.

The pay scale is above 2018’s national average of $61,937, and a medical device sales representative has a degree of control over their salary and can adjust their travel workload to suit their lifestyle.

Because both travel and personal interaction are necessary parts of the job, it is never repetitive. No two work days are exactly the same. As long as the representative stays at the forefront of new trainings, education, and technological advances, it is a field with excellent job security.

One possible negative aspect of the job is maintaining a healthy work-life balance. It is difficult for many Americans to know when to set their work aside and “clock out” to enjoy life at home with friends or family.

It may be more difficult for a person who may spend long hours on the road traveling to meet different clients. A medical device sales representative needs to know how to set and maintain boundaries that allow for their desired income level and their desired relationships with the people in their lives.

If one is able to define and set clear goals for themselves, it should be possible to set and define boundaries between their work lives and their home lives so that they can enjoy the full benefits of both.



The healthcare field is always changing and always growing.

Even during periods of economic decline, there will always be a demand for high-quality medical supplies, and a well-qualified salesperson in the medical field can find a rewarding and enriching career in medical device sales.

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