2019 9th Annual Medical Sales Salary Report

“How much money does a medical sales rep make?”


Every year, MedReps conducts a survey to answer this question and more:

According to the 2019 Medical Sales Salary Survey, medical sales professionals make an average base salary of $95,296 (Median $85,000) and an average total income of $156,785 (Median $145,000). These numbers have trended upward year over year, but 2019 shows the biggest increase (4.8 percent) since the survey’s inception.  

Of course, these figures are based on the collective answers of our survey respondents, but many factors impact how much medical sales professionals take home. The results take into account job titles, types and sizes of companies, product segments, as well as demographic information like age, gender, and race to reveal how these factors impact medical sales salaries.

By evaluating medical sales salaries annually, MedReps is able to detect trends and changes happening across the industry.

2019 medical sales salary key findings:

  • Medical device and biotech salaries saw the greatest increases.
  • The OR is where the money is — med reps who spend time working in the OR earn 11% more than those who don’t.
  • Income parity in pharma sales is closer than ever, but it remains elusive in other areas.
  • Manufacturers of any size pay more than distributors and service providers.
  • Work-life balance is more important than high salaries.

About our medical sales salary respondents

More than 2,000 medical sales professionals responded to the 2019 survey. The majority of respondents work in field sales (74 percent), and 74 percent of those field reps work for manufacturers. Nearly one-third (30 percent) sell medical devices, while 20 percent sell pharma or specialty pharma.

Most respondents are in their 30s (28 percent) or 40s (32 percent). Experience levels range considerably, with the highest percentage (32 percent) having between 11 and 20 years of experience. Consistent with prior years, men outnumber women in medical sales 3 to 1 (though the percentage of women in medical sales has increased by 3 percent).  

Company Size and Job Title

A majority of respondents (74 percent) work for manufacturers, and our results revealed no matter the size, manufacturers consistently pay more than any other type of employer.

Sales Directors and VPs earn the highest medical sales salaries. In fact, their average base salary is in line with the average field sales rep’s average total income. It certainly pays to climb the ladder. The step up to sales management shows a 32 percent increase in total income.

Product and Market

Biotechnology found its way back to the top of the earnings list this year. This segment showed one of the most significant increases in earnings (8 percent), though medical device sales salaries showed an even bigger increase (9 percent).

Professionals selling health IT / software and those selling diagnostic imaging represented less than 2 percent of the survey respondents. However, these sales reps reported some of the highest incomes, $165,789 and $170,229 respectively.

No matter what product, working in the OR has a positive impact on sales earnings. The average total compensation for respondents who work in the OR was $168,481 (11 percent more than those who do not spend time in the OR).

It follows suit that med reps who primarily sell into the surgery / OR market would also earn the highest incomes, as this group is most likely to spend time working in the OR. Professionals selling into the home health, rehab, and dental markets reported the lowest total incomes last year.

Age and Experience

Not surprisingly, the more experience you have, the more money you earn. However, this doesn’t mean the oldest sales reps earn the most (or have the most experience). Respondents in their 40s earn more than any other age groups, regardless of experience. This appears to be the sweet spot when sales representatives have paid their dues and are reaping the benefits of their experience, and are not yet impacted by the negative effects of age discrimination.  

Salaries by Gender

Not only do men continue to outnumber women in medical sales jobs, they also outearn them by 17 percent. That is to say, women earn just 83 percent of what men earn on average.

While men earn higher base salaries as well as more in commissions and bonuses, only 19 percent of respondents said they feel gender impacts earnings.

A closer look at each product category shows the income inequality varies significantly based on what type of products are being sold. Pharma and biotech salaries are much closer to parity than medical device and medical equipment salaries.  

Many comments suggest there is still a “boys club” nature to the medical sales profession, making it extremely difficult for women to get the same opportunities as men. These comments came from men and women alike.

Medical Sales Salary and Diversity

A majority (79 percent) of our survey respondents were Caucasian, suggesting the medical sales profession continues to overcome a gap in diversity. However, just 3 years ago, that figure was closer to 90 percent, so there are slow signs of progress.

Asian and Caucasian respondents reported the highest incomes at $160,255 and $159,153 respectively. African American and Hispanic respondents reported similar earnings to women in the industry. Both groups earning approximately 85 percent of what Caucasian and Asian respondents reported.

Location and Travel

Respondents from every state responded to the 2019 Medical Sales Salary Survey, but not every state had enough respondents to provide statistically significant data. In looking at the states with the highest number of respondents, Californians reported the highest average base and highest total income of any other state.

Most states reported total average incomes that generally aligned with the overall average, with the exception of Texas. In 2019, Texans reported lower than average salaries overall, as well as in every product category we examined.

Most medical sales jobs require some level of overnight travel, but how much varies significantly. Interestingly, the typical amount of travel required by medical sales professionals appears to have decreased, though it is unclear why. Whether it’s due to technology offering alternatives to face-to-face visits or the fact that it is increasingly more difficult to get time with customers, medical sales professionals appear to be spending more time close to home.

While this may be positive for work-life balance, it’s not necessarily good for medical sales salaries. Those who travel 50 percent of the time earn more than those who travel less, and those who travel any amount earn more than those who don’t travel at all.

Salary and Job Satisfaction

While salary satisfaction closely aligns with overall job satisfaction, it’s clear that one does not always equate to the other. In fact, nearly 10 percent of those who are very or somewhat satisfied with their salaries said they are somewhat or very dissatisfied with their overall jobs.

For the most part, however, salary and income satisfaction go hand-in-hand — despite the fact that only 11 percent of respondents said money is the most important factor. Three out of five respondents said a good work-life balance is more important than money.

Medical Sales Jobs Benefits

Medical sales jobs certainly come with their fair share of perks — the most common being health insurance, expense accounts, and 401ks. Company cars were cited most among pharma and specialty pharma respondents. Other sales reps are more likely to have a car allowance.

Traditional perks such as stock options and gas cards are still fairly standard. Non-traditional perks are becoming more popular as well. Paternity leave, healthy-living credits, telehealth services, and flex-time were commonly reported as added benefits in 2018.

Year Over Year Income

This year’s Medical Sales Salary Survey saw one of the biggest single-year increases in average total income since the report’s inception. Despite this data, only 61 percent of respondents said they personally earned more in 2018 than 2017.  However, with an average total income of $156,785, medical sales professionals take home impressive incomes and they continue to find new ways to grow.

Source: 2019 Medical Sales Salary Survey

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