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Medical sales representative: Entry requirements

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Many employers of medical sales representatives prefer graduates and a degree in one of the following subjects is useful:

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

A business or marketing degree may also be helpful, especially if it is accompanied by some knowledge of medical sales and what that involves. Degrees in other areas are also advantageous as they demonstrate you have achieved a certain academic level.

Entry with a HND/foundation degree is possible as training will be given. It will be advantageous if the qualification is in a life science or healthcare subject.

A pre-entry postgraduate qualification is not required although a relevant postgraduate qualification can be an advantage for certain 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 is desirable with work-shadowing preferred. Related work experience, such as through a hospital placement or in a commercial environment, is useful. A driving licence is essential.

Candidates need to show evidence of the following:

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

There are a reasonable number of employment opportunities, but company mergers and the tightening of finances within the NHS are leading to increased competition for entry, so mobility can be important. Specialist markets are still a developing area.

It is advisable 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 National Health Service (NHS) . Professional institutions may have local groups, and student membership of organisations such as the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) may provide access to vacancy information.

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

Written by AGCAS editors
August 2012

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