How Do I Become a Car Salesman?

Research what it takes to become a car salesman. Learn about the duties of this job, the education requirements and salary range to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Sales & Marketing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Car Salesman?

Car salesmen, or automobile retail salespersons, assist customers in the evaluation and purchase of automobiles. They may watch and greet customers on a lot and show them available cars that match their desires. Car salesmen must know the ins and outs of their available vehicles in order to best answer any questions a customer may have. They may also need to explain the benefits of having certain features in a vehicle. Car salesmen often accompany customers on test drives of vehicles. Once a customer has made a decision, these professionals handle all of the paperwork and discuss the policies and procedures for the purchase. Most car salesmen work on some form of commission. The following chart provides an overview of the education, job outlook and average salary in this field.

Education Required High school diploma
Certification Certification is optional
Key Responsibilities Match customers to the vehicle they seek; communicate financial aspects of purchase; promote vehicles' features to prospective buyers
Job Growth (2014-2024) 7% (for all retail salespersons)*
Mean Annual Salary (2015) $45,280 (for salespersons with automobile dealers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Do I Need a Degree to Become a Car Salesman?

You may be able to find a job as a car salesman without a degree, but many employers require a high school diploma or the equivalent. Like other types of retail salespeople, a car salesman typically gains the skills required for his or her position through on-the-job training. However, a college degree could potentially help you advance into a management role, especially within a large dealership. Such training may also be helpful if you would like to own your own dealership.

What Are My Degree and Training Options?

If you decide to pursue a degree, associate's and bachelor's degree programs are available in automotive management that can teach you how to run and market a car dealership. Typical courses cover advertising, parts and service, sales, finance, warranties, budgeting and customer relations. Additionally, certificate programs and individual courses in automotive sales are available from some technical and community colleges that could help you prepare for a career as a car salesman. You can also enroll in a training program provided by the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA). Their academy offers six different programs for dealership operations, including programs for prospective dealers, heavy-duty truck dealers and department managers.

Where Might I Work?

As a car salesman, you might work for a new car dealer, which is often called a franchise dealer. The majority of revenue produced by new car dealers is from the sale of new vehicles, but many also provide leasing options or sell some used cars. Most franchise dealers specialize in a particular company's vehicles, which could include several different brands and various makes and models, such as cars, vans and SUVs.

You might also work for a used car dealer, which sells previously owned or leased vehicles. Also called independent dealers, used car dealers are generally smaller, stand-alone business that require fewer salesmen, but larger used car superstores are increasing in number across the U.S.

What Might My Job Be Like?

Depending on what type of dealer you work for, you might spend your days indoors in a comfortable dealer showroom or outside on a car lot. You're likely to spend much of your workday standing or walking around, but you might also use a shared desk or office area or ride along on customer test-drives. Car salesmen typically have earnings goals or sales quotas to fulfill, which can make the job competitive and potentially stressful. Car salesman typically work more than 40 hours per week, and you may need to work weekends or evenings in order to meet consumer needs and sales goals.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

A few related careers that require a high school diploma or equivalent include those of customer service representatives, insurance sales agents and real estate brokers and sales agents. Customer service representatives' primary responsibility is to assist customers. They may answer questions, give customers information, help customers make an order or address any complaints. Insurance sales agents sell different types of insurance. They explain the different policies and help clients match a policy with their current needs. Real estate brokers and sales agents help people sell or buy property, such as houses. They may also help clients rent out properties.

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