*Median base and total both up from $85k/$145k in 2019
“How much money do med reps make?”
This is the driving question behind the Annual MedReps Medical Sales Salary Survey. Of course, medical sales salaries aren’t as straightforward as one might think.
So, the initial question leads to others:
- What is the average base salary for a medical sales rep?
- How much commission do med reps earn?
- Which type of product pays the highest commissions in medical sales?
But product isn’t the only factor impacting medical sales salaries. Job title and years of experience contribute, of course, but the type and size of employer, the market for the product, and how much travel is required also affects income. Our survey considers age, race, and education level as well in order to look for correlations related to medical sales salaries.
In ten years of collecting this data, MedReps has consistently documented increases in the overall medical sales rep income across most product categories. 2019 was another impressive year of growth for medical sales salaries. It’s no wonder med reps have always been predominantly satisfied with their incomes and confident in future earnings–until now.
The 2020 survey was launched in early March, coincidentally, just as the first shutdowns were happening in the US as a result of the COVID-19 global crisis. Respondents were asked how they felt the crisis would impact their income — 81% predict a negative impact, which likely explains why half say they expect to earn less in 2020 than they did in 2019.
Hopefully, next year’s survey will prove their predictions wrong, but the 2019 numbers set the bar high. At $168,899, the average overall income saw a 7% increase over the prior year. For now, at least, hard work continues to pay well in medical sales.
- A majority of medical sales professionals fear the COVID-19 pandemic will have a negative effect on income and half think they will earn less in 2020 than they did in 2019
- Biotech sales professionals saw the greatest increase in income
- Those who earn commissions only (no base salary) earn more than twice the total income of those who receive a base salary only (no commissions)
About the Survey Respondents
The Medical Sales Salary Survey received 2,411 responses from medical sales professionals currently working in the industry. The majority of respondents work in field sales (73%), of which most work for manufacturers (74%). One-third (31%) sell medical devices, while 22% sell pharma or specialty pharma. A third of respondents are in their 40s (32%) and a third have between 11 and 20 years of experience (36%).
*Men have always outnumbered women in medical sales, but we speculate the drop in women this year could be a result of female medical sales professionals having less time during the pandemic due to turning their attention to full-time caregiver responsibilities. The Institute on Aging reported upwards of 75% of all caregivers are female, and women may spend as much as 50% more time providing care than men.
In ten years of conducting medical sales salary research, MedReps has made several slight changes to the way we collect and calculate data — all in an effort to increase the accuracy of our findings.
By inviting respondents to enter their specific salary, we are now able to show more significant shifts between specialties and earning structures.
156 respondents (7%) receive no base salary, but what they lack in base they more than makeup for in commissions and bonuses. Their average total compensation was $187,284. More than half of those without a base salary sell medical devices. One third are independent contractors.
108 respondents (5%) receive zero commissions or bonus. Their average total income is $86,937.
Company Size & Job Title
Most respondents (74%) work for manufacturers, earning an average total compensation of $178,015. Large and medium-sized manufacturers pay significantly more than any other employer type and size. Even small manufacturers earn more than distributors and service providers.
Job title has perhaps the greatest impact on medical sales salaries, with sales managers, directors, and VPs earning 40-50% more than field reps. Independent contractors earn just 81% of the income reported by employed field reps.
Total compensation by employer size and type:
Product and Market
Biotech respondents reported the highest total compensation at $198,282 and the highest base salary ($134,388). Biotech also saw the biggest year over year increase (11%). Professionals selling medical devices report the next highest total income at $180,865 and earned a significant increase of 9% over the 2019 total.
As was the case in 2019, professionals selling Health IT and Diagnostic Imaging reported some of the highest total incomes, but they account for just 4% of the total number of respondents.
Respondents are primarily selling to physicians, surgery / OR, and hospitals. Of these markets, Surgery / OR is the most profitable market for sales reps. They report lower base salaries but higher commissions than those selling to other markets. The Cath Lab was reported to be the most lucrative market with a total compensation of $209,361, but only 4% of respondents cited the Cath Lab as their primary market.
Age & Experience
Sales reps in their 20s earn significantly less than older sales reps. Similarly, those with fewer than 5 years of experience make far less than those with more experience. It seems it may take some time to pay your dues in medical sales, but for those who stick with it, the hard work pays off! Once you have 10 years of experience under your belt, additional years don’t have much impact on earnings.
Gender & Race
Women and minorities remain underrepresented in medical sales, however, as noted, the timing of our survey (coinciding with the nation shutting down) may have impacted who took the survey. Still, as was true in previous years, the majority of respondents are white men and they report a higher average income than any other race or ethnicity.
According to the data collected, women report an average income that is 80% of the income reported by men. One major factor impacting this overall average is the fact that women hold just 16% of management and director-level job titles. The highest-paying jobs are held by men, so it follows that their overall average is significantly higher. Women are also more likely to work in pharma and home health which pay the lowest total incomes.
Location & Travel
The 2020 Medical Sales Salary Survey received responses from every state, however not every state had enough respondents to provide statistically significant data. In looking at the states with the highest number of respondents, New York reported the highest total income of any other state.
With the exception of Pennsylvania, most states reported total average incomes that generally aligned with the overall average. Of the states with the most responses, Texas had the lowest total income. This was true in 2019 as well.
The states with the highest numbers of respondents:
Most medical sales jobs require some level of overnight travel, but how much varies significantly. Respondents who travel overnight for work earn more than those who don’t.
Those who travel half of the time report the highest total income.
Medical sales professionals continue to enjoy many perks. The most common benefits–health insurance (84%), 401k (79%), expense accounts (72%), car allowance (48%) — were reported at similar levels to past years. Benefits such as paternity leave (36%), telehealth services (28%), and adoption assistance (25%) were reported in higher numbers than in 2019.
Past & Future
Year over year, medical sales professionals reported a 7% increase in total income. However, when asked how they expected the COVID-19 crisis to impact earnings, the majority said they felt it would impact them negatively. Many reported they were no longer able to enter hospitals and physician offices to visit prospects and customers, others said hospitals had canceled elective surgeries or shifted priorities and were no longer viable prospects for their products.
For some (9%) however, the impact of COVID-19 will likely be positive. Those who said they anticipate a positive impact primarily work for companies selling PPE, respiratory devices, or lab testing services. Some respondents also said they expect to more than makeup for any losses as soon as things return to “normal.”
The timing of a return to “normal” remains to be seen. However, medical sales professionals tend to be hardworking individuals who can overcome any obstacle presented to them. The obstacle of COVID-19 may be tougher than others we’ve seen, but if any group can come out of it stronger than ever, our money is on medical sales reps.
View Previous Medical Sales Salary Reports:
- 2019 Medical Sales Salary Report
- 2018 Medical Sales Salary Report
- 2017 Medical Sales Salary Report
- 2016 Medical Sales Salary Report
- 2015 Medical Sales Salary Report
- 2014 Medical Sales Salary Report
- 2013 Medical Sales Salary Report
- 2012 Medical Sales Salary Report
- 2011 Medical Sales Salary Report