According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the potential for you to build wealth in a sales position looks bleak. However, their statistics take into account thousands of different industries. They share insights from cashiering ($21,030/year) and modeling ($22,900/year) to real estate agents ($47,880/year) and sales engineers ($98,720/year). They state that the career growth is less than average, but will always be secure in service industries and wholesale sectors because sales reps are vital to maintaining and steadily growing their foundation of customers. As we’ve seen e-commerce take over in recent years, retail sales positions will be the least rewarding path.
You in a High-Paying Sales Position
With an outgoing and ambitious personality, some natural selling skills, and the will to continue learning, sales can be very lucrative and satisfying. Many sales positions make more than six figures. Some of these industries include financial services, advertising, insurance, manufacturing, medical devices, software, pharmaceuticals, and despite retail vs. e-commerce, consumer packaged goods.
Some non-monetary benefits of working in sales are that every day you are met with a challenge, and you’ll work with people a lot. If you are competitive, goal oriented, and enjoy being helpful, this career might be for you. The fact that you often have some control over your income growth is a significant benefit to those who want no ceiling there. In many positions, you’ll have much freedom to decide how you will work and will be left alone to work more independently. There are drawbacks to each of these points, too.
Some Cons to Consider
In sales, you are often under as much pressure to perform and the level of responsibility of a small business owner which can become quite stressful. It’s important to make time and allocate some of your earnings to de-stressing activities like small vacations or staycations, massages, or hobbies that bring you joy. Depending on the structure of your position, your income can depend on how you perform and fluctuate a lot. Managing yourself can be wonderful, but lonely with a large workload. It’s not uncommon for salespeople’s hours to bleed into their “off time”.
How to get Started
What do you need to obtain a position in sales? Typically, you can apply for any sales position with nothing more than your resume. Most sales positions do not require a degree, although they will probably look for a particular type of person with relevant experience. You’ll benefit from researching the position beforehand and tailoring your resume and cover letter to please their expectations. Some higher-paying positions can have training programs that last a few months or even a year! Expect to be coached and evaluated often.
If after reading this article, you’re interested in looking for a career in sales, write down industries you might love to work in, even if you don’t think or know they have a sales position. Nearly every industry has a sales position available. Explore each one by one, by answering the following five questions: (1) How well are they paid? (2) What do their day-to-day activities look like? (3) What requirements does the position have? (4) Do I meet the requirements? (5) Am I interested in this position?
Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2018, April 13). Sales Occupations. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/home.htm