Car Salesperson: Career Information and Education Requirements

Sep 15, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an car salesperson. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and training required to find out if this is the career for you.

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A career as a car salesperson requires salesmanship and highly developed interpersonal skills. These professionals hold at least a high school diploma or its equivalent but many opt for more advanced degrees to distinguish themselves.

Essential Information

Car salespersons are employed by automobile dealerships and sell vehicles to the public. A car salesperson meets and attracts customers and identifies their interests and available budget for a car. This position usually requires a high school diploma or GED and on-the-job training.

Required Education High school diploma or GED at minimum
Other Requirements On-the-job training usually necessary
Projected Job Growth (2018 - 2028)* -2% for all retail salespersons
Mean Salary (2018)* $44,120 annually for retail salespersons for automobile dealers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Car Salesperson Career Information

The success of a car salesperson is based on their skill, dealership and merchandise. When customers arrive at a dealer, a car salesperson greets them and makes herself or himself available to the consumer. Clients who want to be escorted and shown some vehicles are accompanied by a salesperson.

If a customer is just browsing, the car salesperson remains prepared to answer questions on any of the vehicles. Additionally, a consumer may ask to test drive a car. In that case, the salesperson rides with them to ensure that the test run goes smoothly. Once a consumer is interested in a car, the negotiations begin between the car salesperson and the client. The car salesperson looks to arrange a deal that is profitable for the dealership and satisfactory for the customer.

Education Requirements

While the minimum educational requirement for a car salesperson is a GED or a high school diploma, an associate's or bachelor's degree in business or communications can be beneficial. Training programs in automobile repair are available and can be useful as well. Management and senior positions may require education beyond high school, making the bachelor's or associate's degree desirable. A student interested in becoming a car salesperson should take courses in automotive technology, sales, business, computers, communication and mathematics.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most of this education comes through job training (www.bls.gov). After hiring a new car salesperson, the company begins their own on-the-job training process. A new trainee is paired with an experienced salesperson, and this training can last anywhere from a few days to months.

In larger companies, training programs are more formal, but can still include mentorships. For instance, classroom training is typically available to teach individuals how to approach and handle customers. Individuals also develop techniques for negotiating and are given opportunities to understand the features of a vehicle. It's also important for a car salesperson to learn how to effectively close a deal.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS reported that jobs for retail salespersons, including car salespersons, were expected to decrease through 2028. In May 2018, the BLS reported that workers in the 90th percentile or higher earned $41,530 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $18,400 or less per year.

Car salespersons must have excellent communication skills, be to sympathize with client's purchasing needs, and have a resilient attitude in the face of rejection. On-the-job training is typical and the only formal education requirement is a high school diploma.

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