How to Become an Animal Nutrition Sales Representative

Should I Become an Animal Nutrition Sales Representative?

Animal nutrition sales representatives sell animal feed and nutrition products to retail stores, farms and other businesses that either feed animals or sell animal feed to end consumers. They are typically assigned a region and handle all the needs of customers in that area, whether it's a couple of cities or a few states, so travel is relatively common in this field.

Animal nutrition sales reps frequently meet with customers - either in person or by phone - during daytime hours. Evening and weekends are spent taking care of paperwork and other administrative tasks. In some cases, sales representatives may have the flexibility to set their own schedules. Some animal nutrition sales representatives work on commission. Many receive sales goals from their employers.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree often desired by employers; some prefer graduate degrees
Degree Field Animal science, agribusiness, similar fields
Experience Depends on position: entry-level positions available, some sales experience often valuable
Key Skills Strong communication skills, negotiation skills, ability to persuade others, must be able to use personal computer, work with specialized sales/customer relations software, databases
Certification Certification not required but can be helpful in professional advancement
Salary (2014) $86,750 yearly (mean salary for all technical and scientific sales reps)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net OnLine, Job postings by employers (January 2013)

Step 1: Earn a Degree

Many employers seek sales representatives who hold at least a bachelor's degree in animal science or a similar field. Feed companies that sell to the agribusiness industry may prefer to hire a sales rep with a graduate degree due to the technical nature of feeding large numbers of livestock. A degree is necessary to earn professional certification through the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists (ARPAS).

Success Tips:

  • Take business classes while in school. While many animal nutrition companies want their representatives to hold degrees in animal science, they may also want reps to have an understanding of business and sales.
  • Complete an internship. Get experience in animal science or the animal nutrition industry by participating in an internship while in school.

Step 2: Get Work Experience

Entry-level sales representatives are available through many employers, although some companies may prefer to hire individuals who have some experience in sales, animal science or both. If it isn't possible to get a sales job in animal nutrition right away, aspiring sales reps might want to look for a sales position in another industry.

Success Tip:

  • Join a professional association. Joining or participating in the activities of a professional association for sales professionals, or those who work in the animal sciences, can help you network and find new career opportunities.

Step 3: Earn Certification

Although certification is not legally required, some animal feed manufacturers want their sales reps to hold professional certification. ARPAS offers several certifications for those working in the area of animal science, including food science and nutrition. Certification requirements include holding a bachelor's or graduate degree in animal science or a related field, having work experience and passing an exam.

Success Tip:

Complete continuing education requirements. ARPAS requires its members to complete continuing education hours as a condition of ongoing membership. Keep track of membership and certification renewal dates to avoid a lapse in credentials.

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