Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to the most common questions about jobs in medical sales

Is certification required for medical sales jobs?

This is a common question with an easy answer . . . NO.

We have received multiple reports that the RMSR™ program offered by the National Association of Medical Sales Representatives (NAMSR) has/is using multiple recruiter names and recruiting companies that do not exist. They post positions on job boards and reply that you must have certification to be considered for the position. They then offer two options, with one being enrollment in the RMSR™ program. There is no requirement in medical sales for any kind of “certification”. Hiring managers will always make decisions about candidates based on how prepared they are for the position. There is no magic number (i.e. certification number) that will make you more competitive for medical sales jobs.

I don't have a bachelor's degree. How important is this to my medical sales job search?

Most postings for medical sales jobs will require an undergraduate degree, particularly when listed on a corporate website. Without question it is valuable for job hunters to have a bachelor’s degree, especially if it is in the biosciences or business administration. However, when it comes to medical device sales jobs (particularly those offered through a distributorship) the hiring manager really wants to know that you can SELL. Your sales experience and achievements will often count for more than the degree. There are many factors that hiring managers consider and your educational background is just one of them.

What kind of degrees are most valuable in medical sales?

There are two kinds of educational backgrounds that are preferred in medical sales. The first is a business administration background with an emphasis in sales. The second is a science background (in biology, kinesiology, pre-med, etc.). You will need both of these skills to be successful in the medical sales industry.

What specialty is the most lucrative for medical sales reps?

Our background is in orthopedics, and that is certainly one of the most lucrative areas. In fact, any sales role that involves implantable devices and selling directly to the surgeon customer will be an area where you can make (that means earn) a lot of money. This includes spinal implants, orthopedic implants for reconstruction of hips and knees, arthroscopic products, cardiovascular implants, craniomaxillofacial (CMF) products, trauma products (plates and screws), and small joint implants are at the top of the list. Medical equipment sales jobs (i.e. robotics, imaging and diagnostic equipment) can also be very lucrative, as the cost of the equipment and the associated commissions tend to be high. Your selling cycle, however, will also be longer.

How long should it take to get a job in medical sales?

If only we had a crystal ball . . . Lots of things go into this. What territory are you in? There are likely to be a lot more medical sales jobs available in an area like Los Angeles than there will be in an area like Cheyenne. How much do you need to earn? If you will accept a compensation package that is lower, that might get you in the door. If you hold out for a W2 position with a base, commission and benefits that will take longer than being open to a 1099 position (i.e. where you “eat what you kill”). If you are transitioning from another very different industry it will also take longer. Of course, it also depends on YOU. How tenacious are you? How do you present? How much have you done to prepare for a position in medical sales? How committed are you to getting a job in medical sales?

Which sales companies do employers like to see on a sales resume?

There are a number of companies that appeal to most hiring managers in the medical device industry. These are usually companies or industries where sales reps are in B2B or outside sales positions where they are “pounding pavement”. Some of these companies include Cintas, Paychex, ADP, HP, Xerox, Canon, Yellowbook, Enterprise, and Pitney Bowes for example. Common industries include payroll and benefits administration services, office equipment and/or copy machines, postal and shipping services, staffing, food and beverage distribution (especially liquor sales) and advertising. Being successful (i.e. in the top 10%) of sales reps at one of these companies generally demonstrates that you are a hunter that enjoys the sales process.

What kinds of jobs are available in medical sales?

Medical sales obviously covers a very broad spectrum of products and companies – thousands of them in fact. Medical sales includes pharmaceutical sales, specialty pharmaceutical sales, biotech sales, medical device sales, laboratory sales, surgical instrumentation sales, DME (disposable medical equipment) sales, capital equipment sales, IT and software sales or dental sales. The list goes on and on. Likewise, your target market will be different for each sale. We recommend that you take some time to consider what kinds of jobs in medical sales appeal to you and then focus your attention on that segment of medical sales.

How much can I expect to earn in medical sales?

There are two sources that we rely on for salary information. One is MedReps.com and the other is the Bureau of Labor Statistics published by the Department of Labor. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for “Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing, Technical and Scientific Products” is $85,690. MedReps.com is more focused on pure medical sales jobs, but they also have a much narrower response rate. According to their 2013 Medical Sales Salary Report, Biotech Sales is at the top with an average compensation package of $164,783 followed closely by Medical Device Sales at $150,890. On the low end is Home Health Sales at $93,788. The bottom line is that medical sales is a very lucrative profession. We remind everyone that you will EARN it, however.

What is credentialing?

In order to be allowed into a hospital, you will have to be credentialed with that hospital. The credentialing process commonly involves providing copies of immunization records (and having the appropriate immunizations completed), having a background check completed, showing proof of product and general liability insurance, and documenting specialized training, usually in OR protocol, blood-borne pathogens and HIPPA. The two most common companies that provide credentialing services include REPtrax and VendorClear. However, there are no universal guidelines for credentialing (which is a concern for the industry as a whole). One hospital might have one set of requirements and use one vendor credentialing company, while another hospital just 10 miles away might have another set of credentialing requirements and use another company. This can make it confusing (and expensive) to have the opportunity to do your job.

Are resume blasts (distribution services) useful?

The short answer is . . . NO. What is powerful and productive as you try to break into medical sales is connecting with individuals and focusing your efforts in a specific direction. What would happen if a company contacted you after receiving your resume through a distribution service? They say they’re with XYZ Medical and received your resume. You have no idea who XYZ Medical is and you’re likely going to sound unprepared and uninterested. We don’t think you’ll be getting that call in any case, however. Don’t waste your money.

Are ride-alongs common as you interview for medical sales jobs?

Yes and no. Ride-alongs have traditionally been used for pharmaceutical sales jobs. In medical device sales, it is very unlikely that you would have a ride-along. You wouldn’t be allowed into a hospital or into the O.R. so what would be the point? However, it is common for a hiring manager to have you meet (that means interview with) other members of the sales team. They want to be sure that you “fit” within the organization and within the team. Regardless of the medical sales specialization, you will likely have several interviews and/or tests along the way.

Is there any value in training programs?

As you will see in our summary of Training Programs, we believe that specialized training programs that involve your investment (of both time and money) are very beneficial to your medical sales job search. These programs (which include Medical Sales College, Arrhythmia Technologies Institute and PrepMD) have consistently demonstrated results and have proven track records. When you are able to speak the lingo of the hiring manager and can demonstrate your commitment to being a successful sales rep, that carries a lot of weight with hiring managers. Short programs that don’t require very much time or effort (i.e. all of the other training programs) are, in our opinion, a waste of money.

What makes a great medical sales rep?

Ask ten people and you’ll likely get ten different answers. However, there are some attributes or characteristics that we think are consistently valued in medical sales reps. These attributes are as follows:

  • Passionate about sales
  • Hungry for success and achievement
  • Has a strong work ethic and is willing to EARN their income
  • Competitive
  • Financially motivated
  • Professional demeanor
  • Able to establish rapport (people buy from people they like)
  • Not easily intimidated
  • Not scared of rejection (you’ll hear “No” many, many times before you’ll hear “Yes”)
  • Prepared (they know their product, they know their target market and they have a plan)

Most hiring managers in medical device sales are very selective and they have the flexibility to be so. You might think that you’re a great salesperson. You might be a great salesperson. The simple fact is, however, there is A LOT of talent out there. You are not alone. There are also a lot of people who make costly mistakes in the interview process. These are the complaints we have received most often from hiring managers:

  • A sense of entitlement or a feeling you deserve the position, a certain salary, etc. Hiring managers can sense this from a mile away!
  • Asking too many questions to see if the fit is right for YOU instead of focusing on getting the offer
  • Showing hesitancy or a lack of commitment
  • Being unprepared for the interview
  • NOT CLOSING THE INTERVIEW!

I have been self-employed in the past. Is this a positive or a negative for hiring managers?

Most often, I would say that your entrepreneurial spirit is a positive. Hiring managers like to know that you are independent, self-directed and willing to take calculated risks. You are likely resilient and have been able to see an idea through from conception to completion. All of these are valuable in outside sales positions. You do need to guard against being perceived as someone who cannot take direction or is unwilling to be managed.