Medical devices include everything from lab and diagnostic supplies that doctors use on patients to pacemakers, enzyme kits and needles. Medical device sales representatives contact physicians, hospitals and other medical professionals and discuss the benefits and features of their products. Most of them specialize in specific product lines, including those for cardiologists, dermatologists and obstetricians. If you want to become a medical device sales representative, you need at least a bachelor's degree. In return, you can expect an above-average salary compared to most occupations.
Education and Qualifications
While some sales professionals only need high school degrees, most of those who sell scientific or medical products need bachelor's degrees, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Common majors for this career may include business or one of the life sciences -- biology, chemistry or microbiology. Medical device sales programs are also available at some colleges and universities. In addition to a bachelor's degree, you need at least three years of outside business-to-business sales experience, according to the MassDevice website. Most medical device manufacturers or wholesalers provide extensive training for their sales representatives, including classroom and field training. These sales professionals must learn not only the features of medical device products but the science behind their effects on the human body.
The average annual salary for a medical device sales representative was $80,000, according to the "2012 Medical Device Sales Salary Report" by MedReps.com. This represents a 1.26 percent increase over the 2011 average salary of $79,000. These sales representatives also receive commissions in addition to their salaries, which add significantly to their incomes. If you worked as a medical device sales rep in 2012, you'd have earned an average of $75,000 in commissions, or a total income of $155,000.
Experience is one of the main factors influencing a medical device sales representative's salary. In 2012, those with less than two years of experience earned average salaries of $63,000, according to MedReps.com. Their salaries increased to $71,000 once they had two to five years of experience and $81,000 when they'd been on the job six to 10 years. If you worked as a medical device sales for 11 to 20 years, you'd earn $87,000 annually. When you had 20 or more years of experience, you'd make $99,000. Medical device sales representatives also usually earn more in New York, Illinois and California, where living costs are higher.
The BLS predicts a 16 percent increase in employment for wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives, including those in medical sales, from 2010 to 2020, which is about average. An improving economy will largely dictate job growth for most sales representatives. An even better indicator for medical device sales representatives is the projected 24 percent increase in jobs for physicians and surgeons for the same decade, according to the BLS. Physicians and surgeons usually prescribe or insert the medical devices. Population increases among the elderly are also driving demand for physicians and surgeons and other medical-care professions, as they're the ones most likely to need medical services, prescriptions or medical devices.