Survey: Med tech sales reps are out-earning biopharma

Despite shifting reimbursement policies and industrywide pricing pressures, it's a good time to be a medical device sales rep, according to a new survey. The sector's sellers are making more money than their pharma counterparts, MedReps.com reports, and they picked up a 5% raise over last year.

MedReps surveyed more than 3,000 salespeople across healthcare, finding that those in the medical device space averaged $158,411 in annual income. That's the second highest among the survey's 12 sales sectors, coming in behind the $172,891 averaged by reps in health IT and software.

The device reps' average haul is the highest MedReps has charted in its four years surveying the area, good for a 9% jump over 2011, and the group figures the med tech space will only get more competitive.

However, while device salespeople may have clocked the second largest average take-home, they pulled in the 5th-smallest mean base salary among the sectors, getting just $77,173. About 51% of med tech respondents' average income came from commission, by far the largest percentage among the 12 groups. Comparatively, drug reps cleared about 3% less in total but took in an average base salary roughly 37% larger, according to MedReps.

That disparity is likely a reflection of the nature of med tech versus pharma. The commission on, say, a $2 million da Vinci system from Intuitive Surgical ($ISRG) is likely larger than that of any one-time sale of Enbrel. And the promise of such large royalties helps keep the sector so competitive, MedReps notes, which in terms keeps average guaranteed salaries relatively low.

- here's MedReps' survey
- and here are the med tech results

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