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Medical sales representative: Entry requirements

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Although this career is open to all graduates, the following subjects may improve your chances:

  • life sciences;
  • pharmacy;
  • medicine;
  • nursing;
  • dentistry.

A business or marketing degree may also be helpful, especially if accompanied by some knowledge of medical sales and what that involves.

Entry with a HND/foundation degree is possible as training is given. Life science or healthcare subjects are particularly useful.

A pre-entry postgraduate qualification is not necessary, although a relevant postgraduate qualification can be an advantage for medical sales positions requiring specific, technical knowledge.

If you do not have a science or healthcare-related qualification, a background in business or sales is important.

Pre-entry experience, through, for example, work shadowing a medical sales rep, is desirable. Contact pharmaceutical companies to arrange this or try your doctor's surgery or local pharmacy. Relevant work experience in a hospital placement or in a commercial environment may improve your chances.

Candidates need to show evidence of the following:

  • excellent communication skills;
  • an outgoing and persuasive manner and the ability to deal with people who hold differing beliefs or values;
  • confidence and persistence;
  • patience and self-motivation;
  • analytical and planning skills;
  • a flexible approach to work in order to adapt to changes, for example in the healthcare system or product and drug formularies;
  • strong teamwork and networking skills;
  • commercial and business awareness.

A driving licence is essential.

Try to find out as much as possible about the realities of the job by arranging to spend a day with a medical sales representative. Contact GP surgeries and chemists and talk to pharmacists. Research the pharmaceutical industry and keep up to date with developments in the National Health Service (NHS).

Professional bodies may have local groups, and networking opportunities may be provided with student membership of organisations such as the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) .

For more information, see work experience and internships and search postgraduate courses.


Further information


There are 6 jobs available in healthcare

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Written by AGCAS editors
September 2014

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