Types of Jobs in Medical Sales

Jobs in medical sales are available, but that does not mean it will be easy for you to find one and be successful in medical sales. If you have the right skill set, experience, education, drive, and interest, you can be successful in a lucrative medical sales career. There are many different types of medical sales jobs, and therefore the job requirements and compensation also vary widely, depending on the type of medical sales job you are seeking.

Types of Jobs

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Medical sales include pharmaceutical sales, medical device sales, medical equipment sales, and more. Some medical sales jobs may involve selling a service such as healthcare recruiting, billing, marketing, etc. Some medical sales jobs are more consultative while others are more transactional.

A consultative sale might include a large piece of durable medical equipment (DME) such as an imaging machine, for example. This is a multi-million dollar sale that will take a long time to manage from beginning to end. The amount of time it takes to close a sale, from the first contact with the prospective customer, is called the sales cycle.

A long sales cycle occurs when the expenditure is large and/or when there are many decisions and decision-makers involved in the sale. Often, the higher the dollar amount of the sale means the sales cycle will be longer.

Some medical sales associates prefer a longer sales cycle because they enjoy the high level of thinking and consulting involved and relationship building. Other associates prefer a shorter sales cycle because it may feel more fast-paced and you are able to close a sale more frequently than if you are selling more expensive equipment.

An example of a more transactional sale may be medical office supplies or disposables like gloves or other supplies.

Inside Sales vs. Outside Sales

In addition to the different types of medical products and services that you can sell in a medical sales job, there are two different types of sales roles primarily: inside sales and outside sales.

Inside sales typically involve contacting customers over the phone and conducting most of your sales presentations and conversations over the phone from an office setting. Sometimes, inside sales jobs may allow you to telecommute or work from home if the employer is willing to allow it.

Outside sales representatives go out into the "field" or territory of accounts and meet face-to-face with clients and prospective clients. Some outside sales roles may require you to travel overnight if the territory is large, while others may just involve working a local territory of accounts by car.

Often, but not always, the more experienced and polished sales reps will work in the outside roles, but that depends on the company. Some companies, with big-ticket items such as medical equipment or devices, may have junior level inside representatives generating leads and pre-qualifying customers over the phone, which they will then pass on to the more senior outside sales associate. In other companies, all sales may be conducted "from the inside" with little or no outside direct contact. Therefore, in those companies, there may be career sales associates working over the phone even as a more experienced associate.

Some outside medical sales roles require the sales associate to be present in the operating room if he or she is selling a device or piece of equipment that is used in surgery. Therefore, if you have a weak stomach and think that seeing a surgery might make you queasy, these types of medical sales roles may not be the best option for you.


Compensation for medical sales jobs can range widely, from $30,000 per year up to over $200,000 per year. Typically, outside sales in medical devices or durable medical equipment will be towards the higher end of that range. Pharmaceutical sales, which is often an outside sales role, is in the middle of the range, and inside sales in lower-priced medical products would be towards the lower part of the range.

Compensation will depend on many factors including your experience level, the type and price point of the product being sold, and the structure of your pay (salary, straight commission, or a salary plus commission and bonus for example).

Degree Requirements

Degree and education requirements also vary with the type of medical sales job. If the sales role requires a great deal of technical knowledge and personal interaction with physicians and C-level executives, then most likely a degree will be required. Some companies may simply require a bachelor's degree in any field, while others may require a degree in a science, math, engineering, medical, or technical field. There are likely a small proportion of medical sales jobs that do not require a bachelor's degree at all, but it's safe to say that most jobs do require a degree of some sort.

Pharmaceutical Sales Career Overview

Pharmaceutical sales is a very relationship-oriented type of sale. Pharma reps are assigned a territory of physician offices and hospitals in a given area. The rep then manages the relationship with the physicians in their territory. Pharmaceutical reps will visit the offices regularly and periodically to provide drug samples, check in on prescription volume, inform the doctors of any updates or news or indications about the drug they represent and answer any questions about the drug. Pharma reps are also responsible for keeping up with reports for their territory showing activity and sales/prescription volume, and noting any trends and planning a strategy for how to increase sales volume of their drug within their assigned territory.

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