What Are Some High-Paying Careers in Sales?
Sales engineers, sales managers, financial sales agents and sales representatives for technical products earn some of the highest salaries in the sales industry. Keep reading to learn more about these careers. Schools offering Sales & Marketing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Sales Career Overview
If you plan to pursue a career in sales, you should be aware that many of these positions pay on commission. This means that your pay could fluctuate widely, although many sales positions pay an additional salary to offset this fluctuation. Keep in mind that highly paid sales professionals usually work hard for their money; some sales positions require extensive travel and long hours. If you're outgoing and a good communicator, however, you might find that your potential salary and job satisfaction outweigh the drawbacks. Read on to learn about some high paying career choices in sales, including what education or training is needed.
Important Facts About Occupations in Sales
|Financial Services Sales Agent||Sales Engineer||Sales Manager|
|Job Outlook (2014-2024)||10% growth||7% growth||5% growth|
|Similar Occupations||Financial Manager, Real Estate Broker, Insurance Sales Agent||Industrial Engineer, Computer Hardware Engineer, Buyer/Purchasing Agent||Market Research Analyst, Advertising Sales Agent, Retail Sales Worker|
|Key Skills||Initiative, customer-service, and analytical skills||Technological, interpersonal, and problem-solving skills||Customer-service, leadership, and communication skills|
|Work Environment||Commonly full-time in a stressful and fast-paced environment||Commonly full-time, sometimes on your own schedule||Full-time, sometimes during weekends and evenings|
Source: United States Bureau of Labor Statistics
Financial Services Sales Agent
Some of the highest paying sales agent positions are found in the financial services sector. As a sales agent in financial services, you might sell stocks and bonds or investment services, sometimes offering advice and information to clients on everything from banking to mutual funds. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) noted that as of 2014, financial services sales agents earned a mean annual salary of $103,260. Some industries paid better than others in this field; for example, financial services sales agents in natural gas distribution had a mean annual salary of $137,290 in 2014, the BLS reported.
You'll need at least a bachelor's degree to get started in this field, according to the BLS. To get the financial background you need to work as a sales agent, consider earning a bachelor's degree in finance, accounting or business. These programs teach you how to think critically and solve problems, in addition to providing training in business planning, marketing and communication. Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees might be useful for pursuing advanced sales positions. On-the-job training is generally offered by employers, and you might start out in a trainee position in this field.
Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representative - Technical and Scientific Products
Professionals in this category earned the most of all sales representatives, according to data from the BLS. As one of these sales representatives, you could sell products directly to businesses or government organizations. Examples of products you might sell include pharmaceuticals, aircraft equipment, electronics or agricultural equipment. The BLS reported that these sales representatives earned an average salary of $86,750 in 2014. The top-paying industry for this profession was oil and gas extraction, where representatives earned an average of $105,610.
Technical and scientific sales representatives need to be educated in a field that relates to the product they'll be selling. In fact, a bachelor's degree in an area like electronics, biology or chemistry is usually required to pursue this career, the BLS reported. A degree in an engineering field could also be useful for this career. You might want to enhance your knowledge with marketing or sales training through business courses while in college.
Also part of the technical and scientific product industry, these professionals give presentations on equipment or products to potential customers in an effort to sell their products. As a sales engineer, you might explain how your technical and scientific product or service will benefit the customer. You could review a customer's technical requirements and work with your company to provide a product designed specifically for that customer. Examples of products you might sell include computer operating systems, software, semiconductors, electronics or precision machines. In 2014, these engineers earned an average salary of $104,660, the BLS reported.
Technical knowledge gained through a bachelor's degree program in one of the engineering fields or in a science area of study is required to work in this field, although the BLS reported that some sales engineers have business degrees. In addition to your technical training, you'll also need to acquire communication, sales and problem-solving skills. Some schools offer minors in sales engineering that you can complete while earning your degree in a technical field. These programs give you the business, marketing and sales skills you'll need to pursue one of these careers.
Sales managers are in charge of sales teams in a variety of industries. They may set sales goals, train new employees, make sales projections and set quotas. While this is a management position, you'll likely still need to travel, especially if your sales team covers a large regional area. Sales managers earned an average annual salary of $126,040 in May 2014. Financial sales managers in the security and commodity exchange industry had the highest average that year, at $191,950, according to the BLS.
You'll need extensive work experience, up to five years, as a sales agent or representative to obtain one of these jobs, the BLS reported. While you might be able to land a job with just sales experience, a bachelor's degree or even a master's degree could be required by some employers. Degree programs in business, accounting or finance might be useful in your job search, according to the BLS. Programs in sales management are also available and can provide you with skills in marketing, communication, economics and selling methods. These programs might also offer opportunities for you to gain practical experience in sales.