Complete Guide to Sales Jobs

Highmark Inc - Charleston, WV 3.2

Developing and managing positive and effective relationships with key internal and external partners and decision makers including sales, product, provider,…

Estimated: $78,000 - $110,000 a year

Slice - Jersey City, NJ 

Sales Agents are also assigned a dedicated Sales Manager who will train and support you on a daily basis. If you are looking for a high-income outside sales…

$75,000 - $130,000 a year

Slice - Frankfort, KY 4.2

Sales Agents are assigned a dedicated Sales Manager who will train and support you on a daily basis. If you are looking for a high-income outside sales position…

$85,000 - $120,000 a year

SLICE - Jefferson City, TN 

Sales Agents are also assigned a dedicated Sales Manager who will train and support you on a daily basis. If you are looking for a high-income outside sales…

$75,000 - $130,000 a year

Slice - Pittsburgh, PA 

Sales Agents are also assigned a dedicated Sales Manager who will train and support you on a daily basis. If you are looking for a high-income outside sales…

$75,000 - $130,000 a year

Teamwork Specialties - Portland, ME 

Market leading commissions on sales and residual sales. Our Senior Account Managers are responsible for the successful planning, development and execution of…

Estimated: $69,000 - $89,000 a year

Slice - Charlotte, NC 

Sales Agents are also assigned a dedicated Sales Manager who will train and support you on a daily basis. If you are looking for a high-income outside sales…

$75,000 - $130,000 a year

Teamwork Specialties - Fairfax, VA 

Market leading commissions on sales and residual sales. Our Senior Account Managers are responsible for the successful planning, development and execution of…

Estimated: $67,000 - $89,000 a year

SLICE - Atlanta, GA 

Sales Agents are also assigned a dedicated Sales Manager who will train and support you on a daily basis. If you are looking for a high-income outside sales…

$75,000 - $130,000 a year

Slice - Fort Lauderdale, FL 

Sales Agents are also assigned a dedicated Sales Manager who will train and support you on a daily basis. If you are looking for a high-income outside sales…

$75,000 - $130,000 a year

Teamwork Specialties - Charleston, WV 

Market leading commissions on sales and residual sales. Our Senior Account Managers are responsible for the successful planning, development and execution of…

Estimated: $63,000 - $86,000 a year

Slice - Charlotte, NC 4.2

Sales Agents are assigned a dedicated Sales Manager who will train and support you on a daily basis. If you are looking for a high-income outside sales position…

$85,000 - $120,000 a year

Slice - Chattanooga, TN 4.2

Sales Agents are assigned a dedicated Sales Manager who will train and support you on a daily basis. If you are looking for a high-income outside sales position…

$85,000 - $120,000 a year

SLICE - Cedar Rapids, IA 

Sales Agents are also assigned a dedicated Sales Manager who will train and support you on a daily basis. If you are looking for a high-income outside sales…

$75,000 - $130,000 a year

Slice - Huntington, WV 4.2

Sales Agents are assigned a dedicated Sales Manager who will train and support you on a daily basis. If you are looking for a high-income outside sales position…

$85,000 - $120,000 a year

Slice - Memphis, TN 4.2

Sales Agents are assigned a dedicated Sales Manager who will train and support you on a daily basis. If you are looking for a high-income outside sales position…

$85,000 - $120,000 a year

Slice - Yonkers, NY 

Sales Agents are also assigned a dedicated Sales Manager who will train and support you on a daily basis. If you are looking for a high-income outside sales…

$75,000 - $130,000 a year

Slice - Portland, ME 4.2

Sales Agents are assigned a dedicated Sales Manager who will train and support you on a daily basis. If you are looking for a high-income outside sales position…

$85,000 - $120,000 a year

SLICE - Kansas City, KS 

Sales Agents are also assigned a dedicated Sales Manager who will train and support you on a daily basis. If you are looking for a high-income outside sales…

$75,000 - $130,000 a year

Teamwork Specialties - Providence, RI 

Market leading commissions on sales and residual sales. Our Senior Account Managers are responsible for the successful planning, development and execution of…

Estimated: $71,000 - $97,000 a year

Complete Guide to Sales Jobs

This complete guide to sales jobs shows you how one of the 458,700 openings in this field expected by the year 2026 may suit your career goals.

What educational background do you need?

As you review this guide to sales jobs, consider what type of sales position you aspire to gain. Do you want to engage in business-to-consumer (B2C) retail sales, such as in a retail store environment or call center? Do you want to work for an insurance company, advertising company, tech firm, real estate broker or pharmaceutical giant? The educational background required for these roles depends on the field in which you sell as well as who your target market is for your company's products or services.

B2C sales jobs don't always require a college degree. For retail stores and environments in which you sell consumer products, you likely only need a high school diploma. Of course, moving up within these companies to management or executive roles requires some initiative in your education. For those positions, you become most marketable when you pursue college coursework or a degree.

Positions in insurance, real estate and finance sales require specialized testing under tight industry regulations. The Series 63 test, for example, is one financial product salespeople must pass and follow up with continuing education (CE) credit on an annual basis. Real estate licensing requires a minimum number of educational hours in specialized courses, such as from a community college program or one provided by state-approved real estate licensing schools.

The best sales positions for someone with a high school diploma or GED include retail sales, telemarketing, call center representatives, e-commerce and business-to-business (B2B) sales positions in companies not involving professional services, high technology, pharmaceuticals or products or services sold to high-level executives. These B2B sales positions generally require a bachelor's degree or a foundation of experience in sales.

Pursuing a higher college degree, such as a master's or doctorate degree, positions you for executive management in business. These degrees also help you sell B2B to targets with similar or greater educational backgrounds, such as doctors, lawyers and corporate leaders. Having a bachelor's degree or higher helps you move up the business ladder to sales supervisor, sales manager, general manager, regional manager, regional vice president, vice president and chief executive officer positions.

Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees hold less weight in sales fields than in internal roles in businesses. If you have an interest in sales, an MBA is likely not the right track to advance your career. There are certainly exceptions to this rule, but higher-level degrees prove most helpful in sales if you focus on an educational track specific to the field you wish to pursue.

For example, a biology-, chemistry- or pharmacology-focused master's of science (MS) degree forms a better pathway to pharmaceutical sales jobs than an MBA. An engineering degree puts you at the forefront of candidates desiring to sell high-tech products and services, such as technologies to the military.

Many universities like Harvard University also offer specialized coursework for salespeople seeking to maximize their potential whether in sales jobs or as an executive leader of other employees.

What are common jobs in this area?

Entry-level positions in sales include mostly B2C jobs, such as customer service, retail sales, automobile sales and hospitality sales positions. Working as a sales assistant enables you to enter the B2C realm. In these positions, you learn how salespeople manage their time, keep track of their sales cycles and manage customer relationships. Of course, for most sales roles today, you need to know how to type, conduct business over the phone and use basic office equipment. Most candidate resumes must reflect experience in word processing, spreadsheets and sales presentation software for non-retail positions.

Being a sales assistant in an industry in which you have long-term interest also helps you prepare to move up the corporate ladder into a sales position and even sales management by proving your talents and skills. You will gain key insight and immediate exposure to what works for individuals on the sales team and how the company conducts its client relationships.

Mid-level sales positions include B2B salespeople for a wide variety of industries. You can work for wholesalers, distributors, contracting firms, service companies and others selling their products and services to businesses. In both the B2C and B2B realm, mid-level positions include sales managers who supervise and lead a team of salespeople. Sales management includes multiple middle levels, such as a multiunit manager and regional manager.

Senior positions in sales include being a general manager of a retail or B2C company. For B2C and B2B corporations, senior roles include corporate management positions of regional vice president, vice president and C-level executives.

Major industries for sales positions include consumer goods and services, manufacturing, wholesaling, distribution, business services, pharmaceuticals, health care, technology and transportation. Virtually every type of business has one or more people engaged in sales positions or activities.

The U.S. Department of Labor lists many types of roles under this category in its guide to sales jobs. These include cashiers, retail sales workers, insurance agents, real estate agents, advertising, sales engineers, financial services, wholesale agents, manufacturing representatives, travel agents and even models.

Where are the biggest markets for this field?

The biggest markets for salespeople depend on the field of sales you wish to enter. For example, many major pharmaceutical companies operate out of New Jersey, but you can find pharmaceutical entities throughout the United States and just about every industrialized nation. These types of companies also need salespeople throughout every part of the U.S. and the countries where they sell their goods. So, you can work in pharmaceutical sales from a satellite office or even your own home.

Businesses in every community in the United States and internationally make products and services available to consumers or other businesses. Because of this wide-ranging field and unlimited geography for selling B2C or B2B, you can likely find a sales role anywhere you want to live. However, the exact niche of a business depends on local industries, B2B reach and a variety of other factors. Accessibility to the internet and phones is among the only limiting factors for field sales positions.

To climb up the management ladder in your field of sales, you usually need to be in a market where those companies exist. You can take on a field-based leadership role, but to work within the company's office or headquarters, these positions either require relocation for your job or already living near those entities.

What kind of shifts can I work in this field?

Sales roles usually operate during daytime or standard business hours. You'll make yourself accessible to your customers and clients according to when those people need your services or products. Some sales positions offer opportunities for night shift work if your target market operates and makes purchasing decisions during nontraditional business hours. Good examples of night shift work in sales include hotel front desk jobs, open-all-night retail businesses or 24-hour call center operations.

In sales, you benefit from the ability to work part-time or full-time. Retail sales, telemarketing, call center operations and hospitality provide good examples of prime opportunities for part-time work. Many of these fields also provide temporary or seasonal work opportunities, such as during the winter holiday shopping season.

Perks of working in sales

Working in sales provides many perks. The biggest perk is that of being able to find work in almost any community or even in your own home. Learning sales and gaining experience sets you up for a lifetime of opportunities. These jobs require less overtime than many other types of work. You also build connections to your community and people you might otherwise never meet.

Other perks include greater freedom in your personal schedule. Outside salespeople, often called "road warriors," enjoy being able to travel while working. Many contract-based or commission-based salespeople also benefit from being able to attend to some personal affairs during their workday as compared to the tougher constraints of their office-bound counterparts. Of course, being commissioned means missing work affects your income.

Commissioned sales jobs certainly offer the potential for a great income if you apply yourself and your talents. However, the median income for the field of sales also falls more than $10,000 below the median income of all American occupations, at only $28,180 as of May 2018. So, while you can average as much as $209,545 in earnings for some high-tech and science-based sales roles, it helps to maintain realistic expectations based on your education, skills, talents and field of sales work.

Pitfalls of working in sales

Sales jobs income is often entirely or partially commission-based. So, this means you must put in the effort required to maintain the income level you need. In retail, automotive or other fully commissioned sales roles, you'll experience periods of time when you earn nothing at all and periods when you enjoy great success. This is hard to manage and requires financial planning, personal financial security and the ability to persevere when the going gets tough.

Being in sales also means being judged according to your work's financial contribution to the company. The business usually needs to see your performance contribute positively to the bottom line. So, unless you intend to work in a sales assistant or customer service type of sales job, you likely must face accountability at some point for your incoming transactions. This causes a great deal of pressure on many salespeople.

External resources

Many salespeople hone their skills by keeping up with the latest methods and technologies used by successful salespeople in their field. "SellingPower" publishes these types of strategies and helps you focus on what matters most for successful selling. "Sales & Marketing Management" is another popular publication for people climbing the management ladder in sales.

Today's salespeople have few organized resources as far as unionization. Retail, wholesale and department store workers have organized under the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. No formal salesperson-specific union exists for other fields.

While unions still don't offer the protection salespeople may one day benefit from, many sales associations do exist. These include the National Association of Sales Professionals and the National Association of Women Sales Professionals. These organizations support salespeople through industry insights, networking opportunities, training and mentoring.

Top university programs for salespeople include Baylor University's Center for Professional Selling and Western Michigan University's Sales and Business Marketing program.