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Can you become a medical sales representative with no experience?

Posted on: 13 Aug

Medical sales reps have an important role in the pharmaceutical landscape. It’s their job to sell a company’s products, serving as the link between the customer and the manufacturer. Typically working for a pharmaceutical company, clinical research organisation or healthcare equipment manufacturer, they promote the features of the company’s products, answer questions, provide consultation on the use of the products, and introduce new products as they launch. They are the direct link for doctors and medical providers to source the newest and most effective products and medications for their patients. If you are someone who likes working with people, is target driven and enjoys a challenge, becoming a medical sales representative (or rep) might be the perfect career path for you. 

Training 

There are many different possible paths to becoming a medical sales rep and preferred backgrounds will vary according to employer. With that said, the most common pathway to starting your career is getting a degree in one of the following subjects: 

- Biology 
- Pharmacy 
- Biomedical sciences 
- Medical engineering 

It is also possible to get into medical sales with a non-science degree. A business or marketing degree can be very useful as it teaches many of the skillsets required for the role. This can be bolstered if you have some knowledge of medical sales from prior work experience.  

Another entrance into the field is to start by completing an advanced apprenticeship in sales, or by participating in a professional degree apprenticeship. To do this you will usually need at minimum: 

- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship or 
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a degree apprenticeship 

A third option is to apply directly for roles with some relevant work experience behind you. Employers look for candidates who have a good understanding of what medical sales involves - experience in sectors like nursing, healthcare, sales and marketing are all paths that can lead to a career as a medical sales rep. If you don’t have a science or healthcare background, a significant amount of sales experience and the ability to learn quickly may also work in your favour. Ultimately, you need to be able to show employers that you have the drive and sales skills to do the job and do it well.  

Specialising 

There are many different fields within medical sales, all of which require a slightly different set of skills and will result in varying salary levels depending on their complexity. Biotech for example requires a lot of technical knowledge and can pay the most. However, when looking at where you want to specialise it is important to find the specialisation that brings you the most excitement, as your ability to do well in your job and to succeed is heavily based on your drive and passion for what you do.  

Some medical sales concentrations include the following: 

- Medical devices 
- Medical equipment 
- Pharmaceuticals 
- Biotechnology 

Experience 

Once you've discovered which medical sales area you're most interested in, it’s time to look at something that recruiters and hiring managers place a very high value on: work experience. This can include: 

- Internships with medical sales companies 
- Taking an entry-level job in a medical-related or sales field 
- Volunteering at a hospital or doctor's office 
- Job shadowing with an established medical sales rep 

Networking 

Last but certainly not least, networking is an incredibly important part of creating a solid basis for your new career and this will only become more and more important as you progress.  

The first and easiest place to start is LinkedIn.  Take advantage of LinkedIn’s Groups feature, where you can search for a group under medical sales and request to join. This will allow you to start interacting with the others in that group, giving you an easy opportunity to connect with them. Once you’ve done that you can begin to actively respond to blogs posted by others in your field, which can help you network and find new opportunities.  

You should also look for opportunities to meet people in person. Both seminars and conferences are a great way to create connections with other attendees as well as expand your knowledge on your chosen speciality. Reaching out to organisations that specialise in hiring medical sales representatives – such as IQVIA – can also help to get you on the career ladder. 

Medical sales is an industry that continues to grow with almost an endless need for new talent. If you have the drive, good communication skills and are keen to develop your sales and business insights this might very well be the role for you, and we’d love to work with you at IQVIA. 

View our latest medical sales representative jobs and take your next career step.