Highest Paying Sales Careers in the U.S.

According to May 2016 salary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and 2017 salary data from ''PayScale.com'', sales professionals who made high median wages included sales managers; sales engineers; securities, commodities and financial services sales agents; and pharmaceutical sales representatives.

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The field of sales includes a broad range of skills and positions involved in the selling of goods and services by companies to customers. There is a lot of variation in the salaries associated with sales careers and the following covers sales careers that are considered high paying.

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Sales Career Options

Sales careers involve the use of marketing, communication and other business skills in order to get a product into consumers' hands. Professionals in this field can work in a variety of staff and management positions. Some of the highest paying sales careers include:

  • sales managers
  • sales engineers
  • securities, commodities
  • financial services sales agents
  • pharmaceutical sales representatives.

General Sales Manager

General sales managers implement and plan sales programs for a company. These professionals oversee the sales and marketing work of others and ensure that the activities taking place at the company are in line with the company's mission statement and fiscal goals for the year. General sales managers often travel to different markets around the United States and potentially outside of the country depending on the product. They travel to different locations to ensure that key business partners and clients are satisfied with the product and that local conditions are such that the product is moving smoothly.

Sales managers usually have sales work experience and a bachelor's degree. Experience tends to be the most important requirement, with most employers seeking prospective sales managers with 1 to 5 years of experience.

According to the BLS, sales managers earned a median salary of $117,960 as of May 2016. The same source reports that popular industries that employ sales managers include company and enterprise management providers, automobile dealers, wholesale electronics markets, department stores and computer systems design companies.

Sales Engineer

Sales engineers are responsible for preparing presentations for clients, negotiating pricing, planning order deliveries and completing the sales of technical and scientific products. They also do research to determine new products that customers may demand, and they assist in product development. Sales engineers also provide some after-sales support to clients.

These professionals usually hold a bachelor's degree in a type of engineering, although those with a business background may qualify. Typically, new graduates with an engineering degree will have to undergo training that often involves a sales mentor. This combined with sales experience is a common path to a career as a sales engineer.

In May 2016, the BLS reported that most sales engineers earned between $56,990 and $166,500 a year. The median wage was $100,000.

Securities, Commodities and Financial Services Sales Agent

Securities, commodities and financial services sales agents are responsible for selling financial products to investors. They also describe these products to clients, buy and sell securities and commodities, provide companies with financial advice and analyze the performance of securities. Job duties can vary by job title, such as broker or investment banker.

A business-related bachelor's degree is the most common requirement for entry-level sales agent jobs. Those looking to advance within the field often find a master's degree in business administration (MBA) helpful. The licenses and certifications required vary depending on the position. For example, brokers and investment bankers must register with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) as firm representatives. Training is done on the job.

The BLS reported a median salary of $67,310 for these sales agents in May 2016. The bottom-paid 10 percent made a median of $33,340, while the top 25% made $131,180 or more annually.

Pharmaceutical Sales Representative

These professionals often work at pharmaceutical companies and create relationships with physicians, hospital personnel, pharmacists, retirement homes and other places which deal and receive legal drugs. This job requires knowledge of sales, as well as the drugs the company is selling. These professionals spend long periods of time selling while on the road, and some often find juggling their personal and business lives difficult.

Many pharmaceutical representatives take pharmacology classes either in college or during their early years in the business. A bachelor's degree related to pharmaceuticals, such as chemistry, is typically a requirement. Most companies include formal training programs that last around a year and often involve a rotation through various aspects of the production and distribution of the product.

According to March 2017 salary data from PayScale.com, most pharmaceutical sales representatives earned between $44,950 and $103,747 a year, with the median salary being $73,729.

Sales is about the facilitation of the exchange of products and currency between companies and consumers respectively. There are a multitude of career options in the field of sales and some have higher pay potential than others, with some of the highest paying being sales managers; sales engineers; securities, commodities and financial services sales agents; and pharmaceutical sales representatives.

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