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Medical sales representative Medical sales rep

Medical sales representatives ('reps') work for pharmaceutical companies, selling drugs, medicines and medical equipment to health professionals. 

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £19,000 to £60,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • a degree in life sciences, like biology, pharmacy or biomedical sciences
  • a background nursing or healthcare
  • sales or marketing experience

If you don't have a science or healthcare background, you’ll need strong sales experience and the ability to learn about medicines and therapy areas in detail. You may have an advantage if you have an A level or equivalent in biology or general science, or a diploma in health and social care.

You could get into this job through a business or sales apprenticeship.

It may help if you spend some time ‘shadowing’ an existing rep to gain experience..
 
The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has more information on medical sales careers.

2. Skills required

You'll need:
  • sales and negotiation skills
  • networking skills
  • communication, planning and organisational skills
  • the ability to understand and present clinical data

3. What you'll do

You’ll sell products to clients in a set area of the UK - known as a sales territory or 'patch'. 

You’ll keep up to date with NHS developments and the latest clinical data and research, so you can discuss medical matters with health professionals in a knowledgeable way.

Your day-to-day duties might include:

  • arranging appointments to see existing clients and ‘cold call’ new contacts
  • making presentations and persuading clients to use or buy your company’s products
  • building strong relationships with medical staff
  • providing an after-sales service
  • planning work schedules
  • meeting sales targets
  • organising and attending medical conferences
  • checking competitors’ products and prices
  • keeping records and reporting back to head office

You’ll often specialise in a particular area, like oncology, diabetes or respiratory health.

4. Salary

Starter: £19,000 to £31,000

Experienced: £31,000 to £40,000

Highly Experienced: £40,000 to £60,000

You may get a basic salary plus bonuses or commission, and other benefits like private health insurance.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll work from home or an office base, but you’ll spend most of your time meeting clients. Your sales territory may cover a large area. Most jobs include a company car, so you’ll need a driving licence.

Your working day will often be long. You may socialise with clients in the evenings, or attend conferences, and need to spend some nights away from home. There may be opportunities to travel abroad.

6. Career path and progression

With experience and a good track record in sales, you could progress into area or regional management, or into marketing, product or account management. 

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Last updated: 21 December 2016