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Medical Device Sales Representative Career Guide

What is a medical device sales representative?

A medical device sales representative is a professional engaged in selling medical equipment to healthcare institutions, including hospitals, clinics, medical schools, and individual healthcare professionals. This specialist acts as a bridge between medical device manufacturers and the healthcare industry, offering insights into the benefits and proper usage of medical equipment. The role ensures that healthcare providers have access to the latest medical technology necessary for patient care and treatment.

They are valued in both business and community. In the business sector, the representation of medical devices results in revenue generation for manufacturers while also helping healthcare entities stay updated with the latest medical advancements. In the community sector, these professionals indirectly contribute to community health by ensuring that healthcare providers are equipped with the best and most advanced medical devices for treatment purposes. Their role is a blend of sales and consulting, requiring not only excellent sales skills but also a deep understanding of the products they represent.

Duties and responsibilities

As part of their job, medical device sales representatives are responsible for a wide range of tasks. One of their primary responsibilities is to present, promote, and sell medical devices to existing and prospective customers. This process involves conducting product demonstrations, arranging meetings with potential customers, and addressing any questions or concerns about the products. They must also maintain positive business relationships with customers to ensure future sales and to guide customers through any post-purchase issues that may arise.

These professionals need to analyze the territory/market’s potential, track sales, and generate status reports. This often involves staying updated with the latest industry trends and medical device technological advancements. They’re also responsible for resolving customer complaints by investigating problems, developing solutions, and making necessary recommendations to the management. Additionally, they might have to work with the technical support team to address any complex technical questions from customers.

Work environment

The work environment of a medical device sales representative can vary greatly depending on their territory and the nature of their role. Most reps spend a significant amount of time on the road, visiting clinics, hospitals, and offices, and sometimes attending medical conventions and trade shows. While they typically have an office, either at home or within their company’s local office, much of their work is done in the field.

Interacting with healthcare professionals means they often enter a medical facility, exposing them to the environment where healthcare workers operate. Despite the dynamic nature of their work environment, they must follow necessary health and safety protocols associated with different locations, especially when working in sterile environments like operating rooms for product demonstrations.

Typical work hours

The work hours of a medical device sales representative are typically full-time, with some additional hours often necessary for meeting targets or addressing customer needs. They may need to adjust their schedule to match the working hours of the healthcare professionals they’re meeting, which can sometimes extend beyond the traditional 9-to-5 routine. Although they have a certain level of flexibility, they must also be prepared to respond to customer needs during emergencies.

When attending conferences or sales events, overnight or weekend travel might also be required. The job can carry significant pressure because sales targets typically have to be met within a specified period; therefore, during peak sales cycles, the work hours might exceed the standard weekly full-time hours. However, successful reps often find that the rewards and satisfaction of helping healthcare providers better serve their patients outweigh the commitment in time and energy.

How to become a medical device sales representative

This career guide section outlines becoming a medical device sales representative. The journey primarily entails acquiring the necessary education, gaining a substantial amount of related experience, and cultivating the essential skill sets for this role.

Step 1: Earn a bachelor’s degree

Most medical device sales reps hold at least a bachelor’s degree. Preferred fields of study often include business, marketing, biology, chemistry, or health science. These courses provide a foundation in business principles and basic scientific knowledge. They also enable you to understand medical terminologies, which will come in handy when explaining medical devices to potential clients.

Step 2: Gain sales experience

Entry-level sales experience is often a prerequisite. This experience allows you to develop and hone your communication and negotiation skills, both crucial in a sales role. This experience need not be in the medical industry. Working in any sales environment will develop your skills in customer service and client relationship management.

Step 3: Obtain a graduate or professional degree (optional)

Some reps pursue a graduate or professional degree after gaining some sales experience. Professional degrees such as a master’s in business administration (MBA) can provide a competitive edge and prepare you for leadership positions. Additionally, a professional degree in a science-related field can help increase medical knowledge and understanding of the products you are selling.

Step 4: Get experience in the healthcare industry

This step involves acquiring experience in the healthcare industry, often giving an insider view of how healthcare institutions work. This can include work in a hospital or a healthcare consulting firm. Such positions allow you to expand your network and meet potential clients even before you officially step into the role of a medical device sales representative.

Step 5: Develop a comprehensive knowledge of the medical devices

Being well-versed with the technical specifications, uses, and benefits of the medical devices you’re selling is paramount. You can achieve this through continuous learning, attending workshops, product training sessions, trade fairs, and conventions.

Step 6: Apply for jobs

Now that you have the required education, experience, and knowledge, you can apply for jobs as a medical device sales rep. Professional networking sites, job boards, industry events, and relationships you’ve built over your education and experience are all valuable resources for this step.

Step 7: Continual learning and professional development

Like most jobs in the medical and sales field, staying current with industry trends and advancements is key to your continued success. Participate in workshops, courses, and certification programs to stay ahead. Remember, the medical field is ever-evolving, as are the devices used in the field. Staying informed is not only beneficial for your sales career but can also serve to provide the best options for your clients.

How much do medical device sales representatives make?

Medical device sales representative salaries will vary by experience, industry, education, location, and organization size. The complex nature of the medical products being sold, along with the level of personal interaction with healthcare professionals, can significantly impact their compensation.

Highest paying industries

  • Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing – $141,250
  • Patient Monitoring Devices Manufacturing – $129,330
  • Medical Supplies Manufacturing – $122,870
  • Surgical Instruments Manufacturing – $116,530
  • Dental Equipment Manufacturing – $114,010

Highest paying states

  • California – $132,860
  • New Jersey – $131,450
  • Massachusetts – $129,980
  • New York – $128,590
  • Connecticut – $127,210

Browse medical device sales representative salary data by market

Types of medical device sales representatives

Below, we explore common career types and areas of specialization for medical device sales representatives. This guide aims to clarify the diverse roles within this profession and provide a better understanding of the possibilities and areas of development available.

Hospital sales representative

A hospital sales representative, like other sales reps, acts as the intermediary between medical device producers and hospitals. They build relationships with hospital decision-makers, present new medical equipment, and negotiate contracts. This role requires a deep understanding of the hospital environment and the ability to navigate it. They also need a comprehensive knowledge of the products they represent and the medical needs they meet.

Surgical equipment sales representative

Specifically dealing with surgical tools and equipment, these professionals target operating room directors and surgeons. Close cooperation with medical personnel is crucial, as is understanding the complexities of surgical procedures. Thorough knowledge of modern surgical techniques, advancements, and equipment is key to this role.

Home healthcare sales representative

Some medical equipment isn’t meant for hospital use but for home care. These professionals sell devices aimed at patients who need long-term, at-home care. Such items can include respiratory aids, mobility devices, or in-home monitoring systems. They must excel at explaining the benefits of each product and how it can enhance a patient’s quality of life.

Pharmaceutical sales representative

This type of medical sales rep focuses exclusively on pharmaceutical products. They contact hospitals, pharmacies, and doctors to promote and sell their company’s medicines and drugs. Strong knowledge of pharmacology, the pharmaceutical industry, and regulatory requirements is needed to be successful in this role.

Medical software sales representative

This niche role specializes in selling software medical professionals use, such as electronic health records (EHR), medical imaging software, or analytics platforms. They consult with healthcare providers, demonstrating how their software improves efficiency, reduces errors, and enhances patient care. Familiarity with medical software and technology and a solid understanding of the healthcare industry’s evolving needs are essential.

Top skills for medical device sales representatives

This career guide section outlines the skills and abilities that will help you find success as a medical device sales representative.

Communication skills

Clear and effective communication is a key aspect of this job. You need to explain complex medical devices in understandable terms to diverse audiences, negotiate deals, and foster lasting relationships with clients. Good communication also involves active listening to understand clients’ needs and respond effectively.

Knowledge of medical devices

Understanding the ins and outs of the products you’re selling is paramount. This involves keeping up with developments in medical technology, knowing the benefits and drawbacks of different devices, and understanding how they can meet the needs of various healthcare settings.

Sales and negotiation skills

Being persuasive and strategic can help you close a deal. You’ll need confidence and charisma to present your products convincingly. Understanding clients’ needs and how your devices can meet them is key to effective negotiation.

Relationship-building skills

Building strong professional relationships is crucial in this line of work. You’ll need to establish rapport with potential customers while maintaining a professional demeanor. This involves a mix of patience, persistence, and genuine interest in clients’ needs.

Technical skills

Proficiency in using and demonstrating medical equipment is mandatory, as well as understanding technical documentation. Using customer relationship management (CRM) software and other sales technology will enhance your efficiency and effectiveness.

Medical device sales representative career path options

Starting as a medical device sales representative can open various paths for career progression within the healthcare industry. In this role, one not only gains extensive knowledge about a wide range of medical devices but also builds a robust network of healthcare professionals who can provide guidance and opportunities to accelerate your career advancement in the future.

Mid-level sales management

The first significant step in the progression path is usually toward a management role. After mastering the art of pitching, negotiating, and closing medical device sales, you may get promoted to a sales manager or area sales manager position. Here, you will be able to lead a team of sales reps, be responsible for setting sales objectives and strategies, and work toward achieving targets for your assigned area.

Senior sales management

With experience and demonstrated success at the mid-management level, you could advance further to take on roles such as sales director. In this leadership position, you would oversee multiple sales teams, contribute to marketing strategies, and forge relationships with key stakeholder groups. Diligence and expertise could even lead to boarding the executive suite as a vice president of sales, where large-scale management, strategic planning, and directing corporate sales policies would be your primary responsibilities.

Industry specialist consultant

Another potential career progression can be as a consultant. If you are interested in specific medical technology or a type of device, you might opt to specialize. As a consultant, you leverage your detailed knowledge about the product to help healthcare providers choose the right equipment for their needs. You could also assist manufacturers in developing new devices, lending your expertise to ensure usability and marketability in an ever-evolving market.

Career pivot to medical device marketing or market research

Alternatively, leveraging your deep understanding of market dynamics and customer behavior, you could shift your career into marketing or market research within the medical device sector. These roles would focus on discovering what customers want, need, or believe. You could work on creating strategic marketing campaigns or identifying emerging trends in the market that could influence the development and sales of future products.

The medical device sales field has experienced consistent growth due to the increasing demand for advanced healthcare solutions. As the population ages, the need for sophisticated medical devices, like pacemakers, joint replacements, and diabetes management tools, continues to rise. This demand is driving a robust job market for medical device sales representatives. Those in this field often work closely with health professionals, showcasing the benefits and applications of the latest medical technology.

Digital transformation trends in the healthcare sector have increased remote selling. Today, a sales rep must effectively present and demonstrate products virtually, as they often interface with customers via video conferences and digital platforms. This shift has increased emphasis on digital marketing and communication skills. Companies recognize the importance of having individuals with a blend of technical understanding, online marketing skills, and solid sales abilities.

Additionally, changing regulatory landscapes worldwide also influence the medical device sales career. A strong understanding of the regulatory environment, both locally and internationally, and an ability to keep up with evolving rules and guidelines is beneficial. It is common for these professionals to engage with regulatory bodies and understand complex guidelines; being equipped to navigate these is a valuable asset in this field.

Employment projections

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that sales representatives, including those in the medical devices field, will experience a 5% gain in employment opportunities through 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations. The aging population, the need for healthcare services, and the development of new devices and technologies are expected to support job growth.

Medical device sales representative career tips

Know your product inside out

Arguably, the most valuable advice anyone can give a medical device sales rep is to know the products you sell inside and out. This doesn’t just mean knowing the specifications or how to use them – it means immersing yourself in the details of the product knowledge, understanding how the device fits into the wider medical field, how it compares to competitors, and, importantly, how it can genuinely benefit the healthcare professionals you’ll be selling to.

Stay on top of industry trends

In an industry that’s always advancing, it’s important to keep up with the latest developments. Medical technologies and practices are constantly evolving, and those changes can have direct impacts on the devices you’re selling. It’s essential to stay informed about these shifts in your industry to position your products appropriately and guide your clients well.

Build a professional network

Networking plays an essential role in the success of a sales representative. By building solid relationships with healthcare professionals, you can gain a deeper understanding of their needs, ultimately paving the way toward a favorable selling position.

  • Medical Device Sales Network
  • Association of Medical Device Reps
  • Advance Medical Technology Association

Cultivate resilience and persistence

One of the most challenging aspects of sales is facing rejection. It’s an inevitable part of the job, but developing a thick skin will help immensely. Cultivate resilience and persistence. When one door closes, always be ready to knock on the next one.

Embrace continuous learning

Particularly in medical device sales, the ability to continuously learn is key. Given the rapid pace of technological advancements in the medical field, keeping up-to-date is a must. Every product update, emerging technology, or new regulation can impact your job significantly.

  • Attend training sessions by medical device manufacturers
  • Participate in industry webinars and workshops
  • Seek out courses focused on medical device regulations and compliance
  • Stay informed with publications like Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry (MDDI)

Consider obtaining certifications

While not always required, obtaining relevant certifications can certainly boost your credibility. Certifications can further recognize your expertise, and some may even enhance your positions at the negotiation table.

  • Certified Medical Device Sales Representative from Medical Sales College
  • Registered Medical Device Sales Representative from the American Medical Sales Association
  • Certified Surgical Sales Specialist from the Association of Surgical Technologists

Where the medical device sales representative jobs are

Top employers

  • Medtronic
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Stryker
  • Boston Scientific Corporation
  • Becton, Dickinson and Company

Top states

  • California
  • Florida
  • Texas
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania

Top job sites

  • zengig
  • Indeed
  • MedReps
  • LinkedIn
  • Monster


What skills are necessary for success in medical device sales?

Succeeding in medical device sales requires strong interpersonal skills, excellent communication ability, and a solid understanding of the healthcare industry. In addition, competitiveness, resilience, empathy, and technical expertise related to the devices being sold are all important for success in this career.

What does a typical day look like for a medical device sales representative?

A typical day could include meetings with healthcare providers to discuss the benefits of the devices they sell, answering queries related to technical specifications or purchase options, and updating existing clients on new product developments. Time might also be spent researching potential new clients and establishing ways to connect with them. Regular travel can be a part of the job as well.

What educational background is generally required for medical device sales representatives?

Entry-level positions often require a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as business or science. Having a background in biology, healthcare, or nursing can be a significant advantage. Some employers might prefer candidates with a master’s degree or an MBA. Experience in sales or familiarity with the healthcare industry can also be beneficial.

How do I gain experience in medical device sales with no prior sales background?

Gaining experience indirectly can be helpful. This could mean working in an administrative role within a healthcare setting or in customer service. Both these environments can provide useful transferable skills such as relationship-building and understanding customer needs. Networking and making contacts in the industry is also beneficial, as this can often lead to opportunities.

Is a medical device sales job stressful?

Like many careers, it can be stressful due to meeting sales targets, managing client relationships, and adhering to strict regulations. Regular travel and maintaining product knowledge can also contribute to stress. However, good time management and stress-coping strategies can help manage this aspect of the job.

How do I stay current with medical device innovations and regulations?

Keeping up-to-date with medical device innovations and regulations involves diligent reading of industry news, attending conferences, and participating in training workshops. Subscribing to credible health technology news platforms and remaining involved in professional networks can also help to stay informed of any changes or advancements in the field.

What role does ethics play in a medical device sales career?

Ethics play a significant role in this career. Sales reps are responsible for promoting devices that can impact patient health, so honesty and integrity are essential. They must disclose all information about a product, including limitations and potential risks. They also need to respect confidentiality and not engage in manipulative sales practices.

How frequently do medical device sales representatives need to liaise with clients?

The frequency of client interaction can depend on the specific role and the type of devices sold. Regular communication is vital – this could mean weekly or even daily contact with key clients. This interaction ensures that the clients are supported, helps to build strong relationships, and encourages repeat sales.

Can medical device sales representatives work remotely?

While tasks like client communication, training, and reporting can be done remotely, the role typically requires frequent in-person meetings. Presenting products, establishing relationships, and dealing with any client concerns often need a face-to-face approach. Therefore, while some aspects of the job can be done remotely, it isn’t a fully remote role.

What strategies should medical device sales representatives use to cultivate strong relationships with clients?

Building strong client relationships involves understanding their needs, actively listening, and providing appropriate solutions. Regular, timely communication, valuable information and insights, and anticipating their needs are all important strategies. Being reliable, demonstrating integrity, and delivering on promises can go a long way in establishing trust and fostering long-term relationships.