How to Become a Sales Engineer: Requirements & Degree

Find out what you need to become a sales engineer. Explore the key skills, degree requirements, salaries and job outlook to decide if this is a good career for you. Schools offering Sales & Marketing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information at a Glance

Sales engineers use a range of tactics to sell scientifically and technologically advanced equipment to companies. The job usually requires both a bachelor's degree in engineering and extensive knowledge of how a product works. Want the quick version? Check out the table below for a brief outline of the position.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree is common
Education Field of Study Engineering, business, chemistry or another one of the sciences
Training Required On-the-job training
Key Skills Communication, persuasiveness, problem-solving
Job Growth (2016-2026) 7%*
Median Salary (2017) $98,720 per year*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do Sales Engineers Do?

Sales engineers are much like traditional salespeople. They make presentations, speak with customers, oversee the delivery of products and help buyers with any problems they may have. Sales engineers don't work with just any products, though. They work with complicated scientific or technical equipment - think sensitive laboratory equipment or highly specialized machines for manufacturing plants. They have an intimate understanding of how these machines work and they convey that to potential customers, usually explaining why their company's version is a better product.

What Skills or Education Do You Need to Be a Sales Engineer?

Since they work with such highly technical equipment, sales engineers typically have a minimum of a bachelor's degree in engineering. Degrees in business or one of the sciences can also qualify graduates for employment. A company might even take on exceptional sales people who have technical training in one form or another, but no degree, and then teach them the particulars of the product they sell.

Aside from formal education, sales engineers need a range of skills to be successful. These include persuasiveness for convincing customers to buy the product, a healthy dose of self-confidence for giving presentations and a substantial helping of interpersonal skills to understand how to meet customers' needs.

Where Do Sales Engineers Work?

Sales engineers usually work in offices but travel extensively. This is true for most salespeople, but it could be especially true for sales engineers because the equipment they sell may be rare. If they are the only company that sells the equipment, sales engineers may have a wider territory and that could necessitate traveling to other states on a regular basis.

Merchant wholesalers employed the most sales engineers in 2016, with the manufacturing industry a close second, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

How Much Do Sales Engineers Make a Year?

The BLS reports that the median annual salary for sales engineers as of May 2017 was $98,720. In some industries, sales engineers did even better. Those in the telecommunications field earned a median salary of $109,880, while those in the computer systems design business brought home a median salary of $108,230.

What's the Projected Job Growth?

Will employment for sales engineers continue to grow? According to the BLS, yes. Figures point to a 7% increase in employment between 2016 and 2026. This is right in line with the average of estimates for all other occupations.

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