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How to Become an Orthopedic Sales Rep

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Orthopedic sales representatives connect an orthopedic device manufacturer to its customers by talking about the products with doctors, nurses, and hospital administrators, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. An article in "Commercial Appeal," a trade magazine, notes that orthopedic sales reps can earn a six-figure salary after their second year on the job. Although experts note that the field is competitive, becoming an orthopedic sales representative depends solidly on getting plenty of sales experience, understanding marketing concepts, and learning how physicians think.

Complete a bachelor's degree. Although you may see job descriptions for an orthopedic sales rep that do not require a bachelor's degree, most jobs do require a college education--degrees in business, marketing, or even biology are helpful. Because you will be talking daily with doctors and nurses, you need to appear educated about not only your company's products, but also the field of orthopedics in general. Working as an orthopedic sales rep often involves understanding a complex mix of sales techniques, orthopedic devices, surgical instruments, and medical procedures.

Gain at least two to five years of sales experience, preferably in medical sales. Almost all open positions for orthopedic sales reps require at least two years' experience in sales. Experience selling to physicians, nurses, or hospital staff is ideal, since they are specialized markets that require unusual selling styles. Understanding how to work a sales territory, learning best practices in selling techniques, and perfecting how you successfully market a product to customers are skills you will want to hone. Visit job boards that specialize in marketing and sales and network through community organizations, school marketing clubs, or the local chamber of commerce. Community organizations such as Rotary Club will also expose you to contacts who can help you gain sales experience. Volunteer for organizations that will help you understand how physicians think and act, or groups that will help you gain sales or marketing skills.

Apply and interview for an orthopedic sales job. Submitting your resume and qualifications through a particular company's web site, completing an application online through a job board such as Career Builder or Monster, or networking through sites like Linked In are all ways to apply for an orthopedic sales job. Interviewing for these jobs is similar to interviewing for any sales job--focus on your accomplishments, project positive energy, and ensure a polished, professional appearance. Although additional healthcare experience--such as a hospital internship or experience as a surgical technician--might give you a slight edge in the applicant pool, ultimately sales managers at medical device manufacturers are looking for experienced sales professionals. For-profit sales training centers offer courses that will expose sales staff experienced in non-medical sales to the orthopedic market; however, pre-requisites for admission to such fee-based courses require prior sales experience.

Undergo special sales training. Many orthopedic device companies require that sales representatives undergo intensive company- and brand-specific training before working for that company in a particular sales territory. "Commercial Appeal" notes that company sales training can include basic biology concepts to particular methods of client profiling to hands-on training with products in a mock operating room, where sales reps can learn how their new company's orthopedic equipment works.


Matt Browning has been writing about health, science, food and travel since 1990. His career has spanned advocacy, medical communications and public relations and his stories have won awards from the Virginia Press Association. Browning earned a Bachelor of Arts in English language and literature from the University of Virginia.

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