How Do I Become a Telemarketer?

Research what it takes to become a telemarketer. Learn about job duties, education requirements, and salary potential 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 Telemarketer?

Telemarketers make sales for a company over the phone, using marketing techniques to interest customers in the products and services they offer. While they need to have good communication skills, particularly over the phone, they will generally read from a prepared script and need to be able to focus the conversation towards their product or service at all times. They need to have a good knowledge of what they are offering and be able to answer any questions that their customer may have. Telemarketers need to have at least a basic level of computer literacy and be able to use commonly used programs for data input.

Refer to the table below for more information about education requirements, salary, and job outlook for telemarketers.

Education Required None required for some jobs; high school diploma recommended; college education preferred by some employers
Key Skills Speaking, persuasion
Job Growth (2014-2024) -3% (decline)*
Median Salary (May 2015) $23,530*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Job Duties Will I Have as a Telemarketer?

Telemarketers make sales for businesses via telephone. You will call potential customers who are on a list, or you might answer calls from consumers responding to ads. While you'll use a prepared script when talking to potential customers, you may sometimes vary that script to sound more spontaneous or to make the pitch more appealing to a specific customer. Prospective customers might be private consumers or business representatives. You will record successful sales on a computer along with the customer's payment method and personal information.

Many telemarketers work in call centers surrounded by numerous other telemarketers. Telemarketing jobs range from full-time, part-time and temporary positions. Some telemarketers seek donations for causes rather than business sales.

Do I Need Any Education?

A high school diploma is recommended for telemarketers, but not all companies demand it. Most companies don't mandate a college degree for their telemarketers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), yet some firms prefer employees with a college education (www.bls.gov).

According to the U.S. Department of Labor's career database, O*Net, 59% of telemarketers had a high school diploma or equivalent, while 30% had less than that level of education (www.onetonline.org). If you decide to pursue a college education, you could study courses that teach theories and skills in marketing, sales and communications. You will also need computer skills and a strong command of written and spoken English.

Will My Employer Provide Job Training?

You will probably complete a short training period when hired for a telemarketing position. Your on-the-job orientation may include learning how to make successful sales calls, listening as seasoned telemarketers interact with customers and comprehending the laws that govern the telemarketing industry.

What Could I Earn?

The median salary for telemarketers was $23,530 in May 2015, the BLS reported. The top-paid ten percent in the field earned $38,450, while the bottom-paid ten percent earned $17,730 per year. The industry of business support services had the highest employment concentration at this time.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are a number of positions that can be found that require the same core skills as telemarketing. If you have good communication skills, consider working as a receptionist or secretary, answering calls and directing customers to different parts of the company. Many different institutions and industries employ receptionists, with positions available to those without a degree. Another option is to find work as a bill and account collector, another career path that requires only a high school diploma or equivalent. Bill and account collectors follow up with people who have debts and overdue bills in order to collect their payments, often negotiating to find a payment plan that works with the customer's income.

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