How to Become an Automobile Salesman: Career Roadmap

Learn how to become an automobile salesman. Research the job description and the education and licensing requirements, and find out how to pursue a career in automobile sales. View article »

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  • 0:02 Should I Become an…
  • 0:40 Career Requirements
  • 1:18 Steps to Become an…

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Video Transcript

Should I Become an Automobile Salesperson?

Automobile salespeople explain features of vehicles to potential customers and help them find a vehicle that meets their criteria and preferences. Salespeople need to spend many hours standing, and night and weekend hours might be necessary. In addition, working in car sales usually requires spending time outdoors. Automobile salespeople need to be persuasive and charismatic. Occasionally, they'll have to deal with difficult customers, which may be stressful. The median annual salary for an automotive retail salesperson was $39,763 in January 2016, according to PayScale.com.

Career Requirements

Degree Level High school diploma; may need a bachelor's degree for sales management positions
Degree Field Marketing or related field
Licensure May be required in some states
Experience Experience in retail or car sales; some dealerships provide training programs for new salespeople
Key Skills Customer-service skills; selling and people skills; ability to be persistent; ability to use accounting; human resource and point-of-sale programs; proficiency in Microsoft Excel and Word

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Payscale.com, www.dmv.ca.gov, O*Net Online.

Steps to Become an Automobile Salesperson

Step 1: Gain Work Experience

While some dealers will hire a salesman with no experience, most prefer candidates to have prior experience in a sales position. Dealers want salespeople who are good communicators and have a demonstrated talent for customer service, so experience with face-to-face customer interactions is a plus. Regardless if a salesperson has prior sales experience or not, most dealerships require their new employees to complete a training program. In the training program, you'll learn the specifics of that dealer's operating procedures. Other topics discussed include features of different car models and the culture of the business.

Success Tip:

Start preparing in high school. You need to have communication skills and a basic understanding of finance, so you can start by taking high school courses like economics or business foundations. You can also pick up part-time jobs that involve customer service, which can help them get comfortable meeting new people in a professional environment.

Step 2: Obtain a License

Not all states require automobile salesmen to be licensed, so you should check the requirements in the state they wish to work in. For example, automobile salespeople in California are required to pay a fee and submit an application to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Salespeople in Colorado must pass an exam and remit a bond, in addition to completing an application and paying a fee.

Step 3: Consider Postsecondary Education

After a few years of experience, you may have the opportunity to advance to a management position. Sales managers usually have a bachelor's degree in a field such as marketing, so if you are hoping to advance, you may need to go to school. A bachelor's degree in marketing usually includes courses in economics, statistics, and advertising.

Automobile salespeople who have been successful in their careers can eventually own their own dealership if they choose. Dealers with the financial means and necessary industry contacts may open a new dealership, or they can purchase an existing location and take over the operation.


To become an automobile salesperson, you really need to focus on gaining the skills and knowledge required through work experiences and education in high school.

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