becoming a medical sales representative
Breaking into Medical Sales Job Search

Top Factors to Consider When Breaking Into Medical Sales

Suffice to say, breaking into any industry is a big step. There are numerous factors to consider when looking to shift careers or start into the workforce. Becoming a medical sales representative offers a bounty of benefits – but not just any job will cut it.

You have to consider various elements that contribute to your satisfaction and provide the income and flexibility you need to thrive. It’s up to you to prioritize what brings you balance and stability, but you need to understand how these components contribute to the big picture.

We’ve outlined the most basic considerations when deciding if becoming a medical sales representative is right for you:

Education and experience

While many industries have started to look harder at experience, transferable skills, and even personality as acceptable requirements over education, medical sales still require at least a four-year degree. Don’t worry if you didn’t major in a medical or technology field. There are plenty of degrees that help you land a job in medical sales, such as a BA or BS in Business.

Do the work to look ahead in your career and determine if you’ll need or want to gain more education to seek promotions faster. Some companies offer tuition reimbursement!

Whether you simply don’t have experience in medical sales or maybe no work experience at all, there’s still a good chance you can land a great job as a medical sales representative. Many companies will consider your experience in related fields, such as sales, communications, and even marketing. You can also use your volunteer experience as leverage.


Believe it or not, personality plays into how likely you are to succeed as a medical sales representative and if you’ll be happy in the role. Medical sales is a fast-paced industry. It’s highly competitive and requires fairly constant travel and in-person meetings to meet sales targets.

Extroverts are naturally inclined to excel in such high-energy and people-facing roles but don’t count yourself out if you’re introverted. Your empathetic idealism, creativity, and ability to slow down, process, and problem solve could make you a great candidate who would be very satisfied in medical sales. No matter what your personality type, make sure you know who you are, what you need to recharge, and confirm the company offers you the ability to be yourself.

Working environment

Medical sales representatives don’t typically work from a traditional office. Your meetings could take place in doctors’ offices, hospital lobbies, or even the OR. Think about your comfort level regularly visiting these locations.

You also need to consider if you prefer to work collaboratively with a team. Because you’re going to be on location with clients frequently, you’re less likely to communicate with your sales team. This could make it harder to develop working relationships with peers. If teamwork is your favorite part of the daily grind, medical sales might not be the career for you.

Travel and flexibility

Speaking of your work environment, you’ll spend a lot of time in your car (or some form of transportation) working as a medical sales representative. Travel is a key factor to meeting sales goals and making a high commission by staying in front of clients, literally.

According to our 2021 report, those who spend half of their time traveling made more than those who don’t. Depending on geographical location, representatives who travel can make between $176,301 and $186,219, including commissions.

The trade-off is the autonomy you have with your work schedule. As a medical sales rep, you’re generally not locked into a 9-5 routine. You can schedule your meetings with doctors around your availability.

Salary and benefits

It’s fair to say the salary and benefits of medical sales careers are touted as a reason for high satisfaction among medical sales representatives. In fact, our annual Medical Sales Salary Report reveals, year over year, medical sales reps earn increasing average total compensation. Our 2021 report found, on average, reps take home $170,971.

Many companies offer benefits beyond standard healthcare, such as pet care, company care, family leave, and non-monetary perks such as a professional mentor.

Keep in mind, while these numbers and benefits are exciting, salary and commission vary by product market, role, experience, company size, and even geographic location.

The Takeaway

Ultimately, job satisfaction plays the biggest part in how far you go in any career. When deciding on becoming a medical sales representative, you have to weigh the benefits of a high base salary to the time you’ll spend on the road to gain commission. You need to look at whether meeting with clients in different locations each day is likely to lead to burnout. And you should consider how high up the ladder you want to climb and what it’s going to take to reach your short and long-term goals.