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Car Salesman

Education and Training: High school diploma preferred, employer-provided on-site training required
Average Salary: $42,430 per year
Job Outlook: Good

Car salesmen sell brand new or used cars and trucks to the public at car dealerships, or used cars at used car lots. A car salesman typically greets customers, helps them find what they are looking for, describes the advantages and different features of each car model in detail, answers customer questions, explains the available financing methods, helps customers better understand the warranties, convinces the customer to buy now as opposed to later and then closes the final transaction. This may include valuing the customer’s car as a trade-in for a discount on the final price and making arrangements for a car loan.

The most successful car salesmen have excellent people skills and extensive knowledge of their products. Their job brings them into direct contact with members of the public on a daily basis, for which they must be friendly and professional. Car salesmen must communicate well, inspire trust and satisfactorily answer customers’ questions. They also need to be knowledgeable about the dealerships’ brands, models and policies, and should take advantage of the training materials employers provide about the different models.

Education and Training Requirements

No previous education or training is required to work as a car salesman, as car dealerships provide their own training to promising candidates. However, management trainees at car dealerships typically have a college degree.

Getting the Job

Aspiring car salesmen should apply for car dealerships’ advertised job vacancies in newspapers or on job websites. While employers do prefer people with previous sales experience, they universally look for people who have excellent communication skills, a neat and professional appearance, and good manners. Candidates may be required to successfully pass a drug test and a background check.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

The employment outlook for car salesmen is good. Most people in the United States own a car; in fact, the U.S. has the highest rate of car ownership in the world. Dealerships are located in cities throughout the country and as of 2010, 226,280 people worked as car salesmen. At the same time, there are fluctuations in line with the economy, as car sales tend to decline during economic downturns and increase during good economic times. Advancement opportunities for car salesmen may be limited, but those who wish to advance in their careers may become managers.

Working Conditions and Environment

Car salesmen spend part of their time inside the dealership or office and part of their time at the outdoor car lot. They may spend long periods of time standing while showing cars to customers, but while inside they are generally seated. Car salesmen may be required to accompany customers on test drives.

The hours are often full time and 9 to 5, though some weekends and evenings may be required. Selling cars is not necessarily a stressful job, but car salesmen may feel stress or pressure to meet sales quotas or earn more.

Salary and Benefits

Car salesmen earn an average of $42,430 per year; however, the more units car salesmen sell, the more money they make. The compensation car salesmen earn are generally a combination of salary, commission and bonus. The salary is a fixed amount, either as a starting benefit, like the first 90 days of employment, or in some cases, applied year round. The commission is a percentage of the dealership’s profit from the salesman’s sale of a car. Bonuses vary depending on the dealership, but may come in the form of cash bonuses or increased commission percentages.

Where to Go for More Information

1000 AAA Dr.
Heathrow, FL 32746-5063
(800) 222-4357

National Automobile Dealers Association
8400 Westpark Dr.
McLean, VA 22102
(703) 821-7000

United States Auto Club
4910 West 16th St.
Speedway, IN 46224
(317) 247-5151

U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave., SE
Washington, DC 20590
(202) 366-4000

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