Pros and Cons of Medical Sales Jobs

Medical salespeople fall into two general categories: they either sell medical equipment, or they sell pharmaceuticals. It takes a very confident, outgoing, friendly, and - dare we say it – pushy (in a good way) person to succeed in this business.

Medical sales representatives have to do a lot of networking. This involves making cold calls (picking up the phone and calling people out of the blue to introduce and advocate their product and company), dropping by establishments, setting up appointments with clients, and giving presentations so the client understands the product - and why it’s best to buy it from the sales rep’s company.  It takes a special sort of person to prosper as a sales rep; medical sales is generally the sort of job you either love or you hate.


A lot of different educational paths can take you to sales reps. It’s important to be knowledgeable about the product, whether it’s a piece of laboratory equipment or a new type of anti-anxiety medication, so you must be capable of understanding it all in the first place. Additionally, you have to know how to do a lot of paperwork (like expense reports), schedule your own appointments, and put together some sort of presentation that draws people in. You have to be a talker, a listener, and a learner. Being able to use such a wide variety of skills is a definite benefit for some people, but it can also be a huge drawback to have such a large amount of work on your plate.


While a lot of networking and sales can take place over the telephone, a lot of it must be done out of the office. Depending on the company, this might be in a very localized area (for example, one pharmacy might focus on the surrounding region) or spread out over quite a lot of space. This means you have the chance to see a lot of the countryside. Some people find the idea of a job that allows so much travel to be a considerable advantage, especially as the company often pays for gas, meals, and sometimes an automobile. But the flip side of this, especially for people with families, is very little time at home, a lot of time on the road, and long hours that may include weekends and evenings.

Job Outlook

On the plus side, medical sales is a steadily growing industry, and for two reasons: One, people are always going to need medical supplies, and someone is always going to have to sell that; and two, there’s a fairly high turnover rate. There could be a myriad reasons for that, but it’s likely the high turnover rate is due to the stress involved with the job - sales jobs come with quotas that have to reached, and that’s not always easy to do. Additionally, many of these jobs are on a commission-based pay scale, which means you only get paid for what you sell. If you’re a great seller, then you should have no problem - most of the time, but recessions always have to be taken into account.