When you look for a new career, it can be tempting to form an opinion based solely on salary alone.
You may have begun looking into medical sales because of the challenging nature of the profession and the potential of entering an incredibly lucrative business. Now is the time to invest in your future.
The global medical device market was valued at $550 billion and is expected to grow to $850 billion by 2030. The possibilities are endless with an aging population living longer and requiring more chronic care.
And that’s not all. Since 2021, the average income of medical sales reps has increased by 2.64 percent.
You may ask yourself, how much is the average salary for medical sales representatives? Let’s look at some of the factors and find out together.
What Are the Different Types of Medical Sales?
Medical sales, as a whole, encompasses many different areas that you should explore.
When entering medical sales, first, decide which market appeals to you most and which you are most qualified for.
You can do this in various ways, but let’s break down the earning potential in each.
While you review each of these fields, you should consider that 50% of medical sales reps work for large manufacturing companies. In contrast, the rest of the field is separated into positions between distributors and service providers.
Medical sales are expected to create 2.6 million new jobs across the next decade, making the healthcare industry one of the biggest employers in the United States.
A surgical sales representative will work almost exclusively within operating rooms, and surgical medical representatives’ clients are usually surgeons, nurses, and other staff who frequent surgical facilities.
You will often lead presentations to these staff members, pitching new medical devices and equipment that may be used in hospitals and clinics.
If you possess the following skills, you may be uniquely equipped to succeed in this field:
- A comfortability in medical settings and around medical procedures.
- Familiarity with medical tools used in surgeries to better connect with prospects.
- Ambition, persistence, and tenacity when finding the best times to pitch to busy nurses and surgeons.
If this sounds like you, you want to continue on this path.
Within the first two years in this market, the average salary for surgical sales representatives is $82,337. This number comprises two income sources — your salaried rate ($53,210) and commission ($29,127).
With an average of six to 10 years, surgical sales reps can make up to $170,000.
Pharmaceutical sales representatives, better known as pharma sales reps, work as liaisons between doctors and new medications and treatments.
Your job would be to keep healthcare professionals up to date on the latest advancements in medical science and persuade them to prescribe your medications instead of other competitors.
This may appeal to you if you:
- Have proven sales experience
- Excellent communication skills
- Are known for being intelligent and analytical
The average salary for pharma sales reps within the first two years is $87,653, which breaks into $67,530 for a base salary and $20,090 in commission. Top earners in this field can earn $171,542 — but this often comes after 10+ years working in pharmaceutical sales.
Pharmaceutical sales representatives make, on average, $39.64 an hour, which is higher than any other specialization.
Keep in mind this is a highly specialized field that requires pharmaceutical representatives to constantly seek new knowledge through studies, keep up to date on changes within FDA regulations, and have a genuinely persuasive personality to succeed.
Medical Equipment Sales
Medical equipment sales sell a wide assortment of products to healthcare professionals in both small clinics and large hospital settings.
Medical equipment sales reps often sell general medical supplies, including:
- Hospital beds
- Blood pressure cuffs
- IV stands
If you are just beginning in medical sales, this may be your choice, as the average starting income for medical equipment sales reps is $95,057.
In only two-five years, you will likely be making over six figures. This is because commission in this field could be as much as $56,000 in addition to salaried wages. You are selling large quantities of smaller items that are necessities in clinics and hospitals.
The average hourly rate for medical equipment sales is around $39.00 an hour.
Medical Device Sales
Although the names sound similar, medical equipment sales and medical device sales represent entirely different fields. Whereas medical equipment specializes in small, general needs within the market, medical device sales derive its business by selling unique equipment to specialized doctors in specialized areas.
Need examples? Think:
- Artificial joints
- Large equipment such as MRI machines
Because of the specialized skills needed for these sales and the baseline of understanding certain technologies, the base salary is much higher than other positions, averaging $74,005.
This is an excellent starting point, and within two to five years, you are likely to earn upwards of $65,000 in commission.
Medical device sales and medical equipment sales may sell completely different products; both land around $39.00 an hour, but commission on these large items significantly boost your earning potential.
Biotech sales deals often with dedicated scientists more often than doctors. Biotech sales representatives work with geneticists, biologists, and biochemists to develop medications and treatments for ailing patients.
You should consider working with these healthcare professionals if you are genuinely passionate about improving the lives and outcomes of patients.
Often, biotech sales representatives are considered a specialized section of pharmaceutical sales. Because this is so specialized, you should consider this position if you are:
- Curious or knowledgeable about the science behind medicine
- Up-to-date on side effects
- Aware of FDA regulations and the changes that are consistently being made
The earning potential within this field is incredibly high within the first two years as the base salary starts at six figures, approximately $103,300.
With commission, biotech sales reps can earn an additional $45,000. High earners in this field can expect to make over $200,000 if they become proficient and well-known.
Be aware that a background in biology or other sciences can open the most doors for you as the scientist you work for will expect nothing but utmost dedication and understanding of their field.
How Do Entry-Level, Mid-Level, and Senior-Level Sales Reps Differ?
If you have just started in medical sales, you have likely gone into the field because you are ambitious and are looking to climb the ladder to a leadership position.
Of course, there are different salaries based on your experience and job title. Medical sales representatives in the United States earn an average of $75,000 a year, which comes out to be around $35 an hour.
Consider these numbers based on a recent study in 2023. The bottom 10% of earners made around $45,000, and the top 10% earned $121,000. Once again, these numbers are based on salary rather than the earning potential from commissions.
Entry-Level Medical Sales Representatives
Entry-level employees are often defined as those just starting in the industry with zero to five years of experience in the field.
This is where you will need to start, no matter your experience. Still, you will likely be able to negotiate a higher salary if you come from an internship within medical sales or have a successful track record in sales, no matter the industry.
Entry-level medical sales representatives can anticipate being offered between $45,000 to $75,000 a year. Often your title will be “Medical Sales Representative,” and as you progress in your career, you will notice that titles significantly affect your earnings.
Mid-Level Medical Sales Representatives
Mid-level medical sales representatives have likely worked in the industry for six to ten years, and their average salary is around $99,000.
You will want to be sure that you are seeking secondary education and certification to make you stand apart and help you advance quicker to more prestigious roles that are the top earners within all medical sales.
Some of these titles include:
- Territory Manager
- Account Manager
Senior-Level Medical Sales Representatives
As mentioned, senior-level medical sales representatives are the top earners in the medical sales industry. These individuals have likely dedicated ten-plus years to medical sales and have a firm grasp on clients and accounts becoming well-known and trusted.
These roles include mediation and delegation, and they earn between $170,00 to $240,000, depending on their title and what area of medical sales they work in.
If you are looking to reach senior level, you are likely looking for roles such as:
- Sales Management
- Sales Director
- Vice President of Sales
How Can Age and Gender Impact Hiring Practices and Salaries?
A final consideration may be how different medical sales reps make based on their age and potentially gender. However, rather than fixate on your age, consider your experiences and how this affects your earnings. If you are still curious, the breakdown consists of the following:
- The 20s to 30s: Total compensation (including base and commission) — $110,000
- The 30s to 40s: Total compensation (including base and commission) — $170,000
- The 40s to 50s: Total compensation (including base and commission) — $190,000
Do not let this discourage you. Keep working hard, stay curious, and you may move up quicker than the average in your age group.
Gender also plays a prominent role in medical sales, but it may not be what you expect. The average salary for women has increased by 14%. Women also hold about 23% of leadership roles within medical sales, which has increased by 17% since 2020.
How Much Does Location Impact Salaries?
Besides specialties, titles, and experience, location is one of the main factors to consider when considering a career in sales.
Currently, the highest-earning medical sales reps work in California, New Jersey, Maryland, Michigan, and Massachusetts, while the lowest earners work in Georgia, Louisiana, and North Carolina. However, much of being a medical sales representative requires a lot of travel, anywhere from 25% to 50%.
Depending on your level within your company, you will be responsible for different territories, which are broken down often by geographical location, but other factors as well, such as:
- Business industry
- Size of the business
- Account type
- The demographic of prospective customers
Your location should be one of many factors to consider when deciding to begin or continue your career in medical sales. Instead, let it help you navigate which specialization you want to focus on, as this has a much heavier impact on how much you will be earning.
Money Isn’t Everything
One of the critical components that you should consider is more than just your salary but your overall satisfaction with your job. About 90% of people value meaningful work over pay, and medical sales offer you the ability to benefit from both.
Out of polled medical sales representatives, 82% said they were very or somewhat satisfied with their job, and 78% said they were very or somewhat satisfied with their income.
In medical sales, many representatives thrive on building long-lasting relationships with healthcare providers who all have the same hope and goal of improving patients' lives.
Entering the world of medical sales can be quite the undertaking, especially when you are starting from square one.
But this is an opportunity you want to take advantage of as the aging population in the United States is growing and people are living longer, meaning that those in the medical field are forced to solve complicated problems quickly while still adhering to regulations.