4 minute read

Sales Rep

Education and Training: High school diploma preferred
Average Salary: $45,000
Job Outlook: Good

A sales rep works on the sales floor or on the phone selling a company’s products directly to customers. These salespeople can work in retail, wholesale, or science and technical industries. Those in the retail industry are often in high school or straight out of high school, but those in technical and medical industries often have higher degrees because they must by very familiar with the company’s products and how they work.

The main priority of a sales rep is to demonstrate or describe a company’s products in a promotional way so that customers will want to buy them. Many of these representatives are paid on a commission basis, so it’s in their best interest to get as many sales as possible.

With that said, though, the average consumer doesn’t want to be “sold” on products. Instead, they want to work with sales reps who meet their needs and provide excellent information about products as well as great customer service. Sales reps who can provide these things and who have the right personality characteristics to connect with customers will find that they are most likely to be successful as sales reps for various types of companies.

Education and Training Requirements

Education requirements vary based on the industry in which the sales rep is working. In retail, employers usually require that their lower-level sales reps are simply of a certain age – normally sixteen or more. In wholesale, machinery sales, computer sales, and medical equipment sales, among other industries, sales reps are often required to have a bachelor’s degree in sales.

Those who wish to go into sales should take classes in business, sales, marketing, and advertising to have the biggest chance of success. Experience in retail sales can also be great for helping sales reps get better-paying jobs in wholesale and better paying industries.

Getting the Job

Most of the time, sales rep jobs are advertised widely in local newspapers and online. Applicants can apply online or in person. Sometimes interviews for lower-level sales reps are conducted as group interviews, so be prepared for an unusual interview process that involves other applicants as well.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

Although new sales jobs are not expected to grow at a fast rate, high turnover in the area of sales means that these jobs are actually available most of the time, particularly in retail and wholesale sales. The economy and season have a major impact on the availability of sales rep jobs, and many retail companies will hire more sales rep employees around the holiday season.

Sales reps often have the opportunity to expand their territory or work with larger accounts, which means they have higher commission earnings. Some go on to become sales managers, who manage teams of sales reps, and from there, jobs as sales executives and other high-level sales managers are often available for those with the proper education and experience.

Working Conditions and Environment

Retail sales reps work on the retail floor and spend most of their time on their feet dealing directly with customers in person. Wholesale sales reps often spend more time on the phone with their potential customers, and may have scheduled face to face meetings, as well. For some sales reps, travel is a part of their work requirements.

For the most part, this is not a stressful job, though hours are irregular and often include evenings and weekends, especially in retail. Sales reps for larger wholesale companies are more likely to work regular hours that don’t include evenings or weekends, unless travel is required at times.

Salary and Benefits

Retail sales reps are often paid on an hourly basis, and hourly wages depend on the minimum wage in the area worked, the level of a rep’s experience, and the company for which they are working. The average hourly salary for sales reps in retail is about $10 per hour, though it can range from $8 to $15. Salary-earning sales reps in industry and technology make an average of $70,000 per year, and those in wholesale make around $50,000 per year.

One thing to note about sales rep salaries is that they are often based on commission, though a base salary is included. This is why the income for a sales rep can run anywhere from under $40,000 per year to over $130,000 per year.

Full time sales reps are often offered health benefits and paid vacation. Part time reps may be offered employee-paid health benefits and some partially paid vacation time, as well.

Where to Go for More Information

Direct Sales Association
1667 K St. NW, Ste. 1100
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 452-8866

Manufacturer’s Agents National Association
16 A Journey, Ste. 200
Aliso Viejo, CA 92656
(877) 626-2776

National Retail Federation
325 7th St. NW, Ste. 1100
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 673-7971

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesSales & Marketing