Salespersons may sell finished products to customers or they may sell equipment, parts or merchandise to another company or business. While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides general information on a broad category of salespersons, employment requirements and salaries can vary greatly, depending on the industry.
Salespersons interact with customers and assist them with the purchase of products or services. These professionals must be knowledgeable about a business' products and be prepared to answer any questions or concerns about them. While salespersons may only be required to have a high school diploma, many employers prefer to hire applicants who hold college degrees. Job training is often required for this occupation.
|Required Education||High school diploma or GED recommended; postsecondary degree may be required or preferred in some industries|
|Other Requirements||On-the-job training; thorough knowledge of products or services for sale|
|Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)*||-2% for all retail salespersons|
|Median Salary (2018)*||$24,340 for all retail salespersons|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Education and Training Requirements
Most salespersons are required to have at least a high school diploma or GED. This is considered to be a requirement by many retail businesses that sell expensive goods like automobiles or electronics. An associate's degree or a bachelor's degree in business can help a salesperson rise to management positions. Other industries that sell insurance may expect applicants to have a college degree, while department stores may hire high school students.
Employers require that new salespersons go through on-the-job training, which can last from a couple of days to a few months. The training depends on how long it takes for them to have a thorough understanding of the products and services in the company. During these training programs, a salesperson also learns about company policies and customer service.
Job Outlook and Salary Statistics
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), available positions for retail salespersons were expected to decline by 2% during the 2018-2028 decade. BLS data from 2018 showed that the median annual salary earned by retail salespersons was $24,340. This data is very general and based on the entire retail industry, so it may not account for salespersons who earn commission instead of hourly pay, or vice versa. Furthermore, salespersons in certain industries make more because of the industry they work in. For a more thorough understanding of potential salaries for salespersons across multiple industries, please refer to the table below.
|Career Title||Median Annual Salary (2019)*|
|Insurance Sales Agent||$38,000|
|Automobile Sales Consultant||$38,000|
|Pharmaceutical Sales Representative||$79,000|
While some retail sales positions do not have any education requirements whatsoever, other sales positions require postsecondary education. The BLS foresees a decrease in growth of employment for salespersons over the next ten years. Considering the wide variety of occupations included in this category, that growth rate does not say much about what to expect when applying for specific sales positions.