Sales engineers can be thought of as the bridge between customer and manufacturer. They ensure that client needs are being met and communicate the technical aspects of a project to current clients and prospective customers.
Sales engineers have typically worked in traditional engineering jobs, and use their knowledge to explain technological or scientific products to potential buyers. After completing a sale, they may provide technical support or make modifications. Employment opportunities for sales engineers are expected to grow in the coming decade.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree|
|Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)*||6%|
|Average Salary (2020)*||$117,270|
Source:*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Sales Engineer Career Profile
Sales engineers often act as liaisons between clients and manufacturers. For example, when clients request modifications, sales engineers may communicate these needs to engineers, technicians and other personnel who are working on the project. Some of their duties are similar to traditional salespeople, such as taking orders, arranging delivery times and making presentations. Other duties may include providing technical support on products and participating in the design process. Sales engineers may also travel extensively, depending on the product and company that they represent.
The BLS indicates that employment opportunities for sales engineers are expected to increase faster than the national average through 2029, with keen competition for many jobs. The development of more products and their increased technicality will create these jobs. The BLS also notes that job growth will be fastest in technology-related fields and slower in the manufacturing industries.
In May 2020, the BLS reported that sales engineers in the 90th percentile or higher earned $184,190 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $60,730 or less per year. Sales engineers are employed by wholesalers in industries related to engineering, such as industrial machinery or software. PayScale.com indicates that a sales engineer's salary may vary based on their company's annual sales. Sales engineers typically earn commissions and bonuses in addition to their salary.
Many sales engineers have a bachelor's degree in an engineering field. Engineering undergraduate programs include prerequisite coursework in math and science, including calculus, physics and chemistry. The coursework specific to engineering will vary by concentration, but many majors include statics, dynamics and computer programming courses. Students typically complete their prerequisites along with general education requirements in their first two years and devote the final two years to engineering coursework.
The BLS notes that individuals with a background other than engineering may be hired. Training may cover topics ranging from company culture to sales techniques, and new hires may be given a mentor to help them adjust to their new job. Additionally, sales engineers typically need to maintain both their sales and engineering education to keep up with technological advancements.
If you have the strong communication, problem solving and technical skills and knowledge to become a sales engineer, this could be the career for you. Be sure to carefully review work environment information, the nature of the work, education requirements and salary statistics to ensure that this is the right career path for you.