8 Highest Paying Sales Jobs (and How To Maximize Your Salary)
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Last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that there are now over 700,000 open sales positions in the United States. And the demand for competent and savvy representatives is only growing.
But not all of these sales positions are equally lucrative, as sales is one of those industries where pay gaps can vary widely, as can working conditions and one’s responsibilities. A clothing retailer, for example, has little in common (salary or otherwise) with someone who works in tech sales or medical sales.
That’s why we created this post. Below, we’ll detail the eight highest-paying sales jobs. We’ll also tell you how to build a sales career and maximize your salary.
How Much Experience Do You Need To Land a “High Paying” Sales Job?
In sales, performance is quantifiable and directly related to success. So, experience is not as much a contributor to compensation as it might be in other highly skilled occupations. The salary difference between an entry-level sales rep and a senior sales executive, for example, is not exponential.
According to Indeed, an entry-level sales executive makes around $63,000, while someone with over ten years of experience earns $80,000. Therefore, most sales professionals gain management experience and move up the organizational ladder to become –
- Sales managers (average salary of $98,817),
- Sales directors (average salary of $144,600),
- Vice president of sales (average salary of $137,000),
- Chief sales officer (average salary of $175,000), and so on to command top salaries.
Highest Paying Sales Jobs
While sales is seen as a monolithic career, it includes a multitude of diverse positions across industries. From medical device or pharmaceutical sales to tech or SaaS sales, each role is different, offering different compensation. Let’s break that down:
Medical Device Sales
A medical device sales representative meets with stakeholders at medical institutions and sells them medical devices. They build relationships with clients, make new sales, and cross-sell/up-sell products to existing customers. In a day’s job, medical representatives design sales strategies, meet potential customers, chase down sales leads, create proposals quotations, follow up on previous meetings, conduct product demonstrations, maintain after-sale client relationships, develop market intelligence, and present market analysis to top leadership.
According to talent.com, medical device sales reps earn an average salary of $90,000. Entry-level positions pay around $60,000, which can go up to $155,000 with experience.
While a career in medical device sales doesn’t demand medical qualifications, organizations often expect a college education. Skills in communication, negotiation, and relationship-building are necessary. Willingness to travel might also be expected. Any experience in the healthcare or medical sales industry is a bonus.
The medical device industry is growing owing to technological advancements and intense competition among equipment manufacturers. Candidates with industry experience and local knowledge are in demand.
A software sales representative identifies potential clients and sells software products to them. This could be business-to-business (B2B) software, where you sell to another organization, or business-to-consumer (B2C) software, where you sell to individuals for personal use. Today, with most software products moving to the software as a service (SaaS) model, this role also includes designations such as SaaS sales, tech sales, or enterprise sales executives.
According to Glassdoor, the average base salary of a software sales executive is $91,915, and goes up to nearly $200,000 with certain specializations.
Software sales jobs expect candidates to be graduates or have an experience of 2-3 years in the field. While no software development/maintenance background is necessary, you will be expected to understand the business landscape and product features. Most SaaS sales jobs tend to be remote, as the product is hosted and used from the cloud, so travel can be minimal.
With the rapid digitization that has the COVID-19 pandemic, the software industry is growing exponentially, opening up opportunities not just in development but also in sales and marketing. The SaaS industry has grown by nearly 18% to $171 billion. It is projected to continue to grow at the same rate. To power this growth, organizations will hire seasoned sales professionals.
A pharma sales rep meets medical professionals to educate them about new medications and products. In a day’s job, a pharma sales rep would devise personalized sales strategies, meet doctors, introduce the new drugs, make sales pitches, discuss their benefits, offer samples, etc.
According to Indeed, pharmaceutical sales representatives make $66,620 a year, with an additional commission of $21,500. This can go well into six figures, but often requires more travel—one study found that representatives who traveled between 50% and 75% of their time earned an average of $197,245.
Most pharmaceutical companies prefer that their representatives have a bachelor’s degree. It is a bonus if the qualification is related to the pharmaceutical industry. Most of these sales take place in person, so pharmaceutical sales reps also need to be willing to travel and have a valid driving license.
The pharma industry is at the cutting-edge of healthcare advancements all over the globe. Demanding the right balance of public good and profitability, companies are hiring qualified pharmaceutical sales representatives at a rapid rate.
A real estate agent helps individuals, families, or businesses buy, sell or rent a property. While most are employed in real estate firms or as individuals, several agents also work in large corporations in oil and gas, natural gas, electric power, and related industries. Depending on the kind of organization you work with at the work goals you need to achieve, your sales strategies will change.
According to Indeed, the average salary of a real estate sales agent is $95,940. However, this can vary significantly from one city to another. Agents in high-cost-of-living locations like New York or San Francisco earn much better than those in the rest of the country.
The real estate industry does not have formal education requirements, so anyone with a high school diploma can become an agent. However, you do need to have a solid knowledge of the city in which you’re selling. Most firms will also expect that you have a car, a valid driving license, and are willing to travel locally.
The real estate industry saw a dip at the beginning of the pandemic, but this has picked up again. So there is high competition for good agents, with firms offering top salaries for those who can beat the market.
A sales engineer is a subject matter expert with additional responsibility for sales, often within a high-tech or scientific products industry. They partner with the field sales teams and account executives to build relationships with prospective clients. They typically have some management experience, but also bring technical know-how and industry knowledge to the sales process.
According to BuiltIn, the average sales engineer salary is $122,260, with additional cash compensation such as annual bonuses and profit-sharing of $37,432.
Most sales engineer jobs demand a bachelor’s degree in a related field. For instance, a chemistry major for a chemical manufacturing firm or a statistics/computer science major for a data analytics company. To be a sales engineer, it is also valuable to have industry experience and deep subject matter knowledge.
Sales engineers are in-demand, yet the position is difficult-to-fill because of the technical expertise required. Career growth as a sales engineer can be exponential, soon handling dozens of accounts or managing large teams.
Media sales typically refers to the selling of advertising spaces across media organizations. During a workday, media advertising sales agents identify relevant potential clients, approach decision-makers, help design ads, manage ad placement, and monitor reach and outcomes. They also nurture ongoing client relationships for future sales.
According to Indeed, a media sales or advertising sales representative makes $56,087, with additional compensation/commission of $25,700. High-end or industry-specific publications tend to pay more than mainstream media outlets, and also tend to offer higher bonuses for achieving sales quotas.
While some jobs might prefer a college degree, the education requirements for this sales job are flexible, though an understanding of the media landscape is helpful. If the job is in digital media sales, then acquaintance with digital platforms, online marketing, and web/mobile analytics would be a bonus.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 10% growth in advertising jobs for the decade ending 2030. Market trends indicate that digital media is growing exponentially, making advertising sales an exciting and expanding field. This role also offers the opportunity to transition to search and social media advertising roles.
A telecom sales representative sells products in the telecommunications industry, such as business telephony, cloud/VOIP systems, surveillance solutions, and low-voltage cabling. They monitor market trends, identify business opportunities, prospect potential customers, meet decision-makers, make presentations, create proposals, negotiate deals and oversee the implementation.
According to talent.com, a telecommunications sales representative makes an average salary of $55,000. With experience, this can go up to $102,000 based on achievement of sales goals and overall career trajectory.
Telecommunications sales positions typically expect job seekers to have an extensive background in business, telecom, computer science, or related fields. However, high school graduates can also gain some work experience and then transition to telecom sales. Modern telecommunication sales jobs, especially in cloud telephony, VOIP, etc., might need exposure to these technologies.
Telecommunications as an industry is going through a transformation towards cloud technologies. As a result, organizations are looking for sales representatives with a strong rootedness in telecommunications and an understanding of digital technologies. A combination of these two skillsets has lucrative prospects in telecom sales.
Financial Services Sales
Financial services sales entails selling various products across savings, investments, insurance, retirement planning, loans, credit cards, etc. A financial services sales agent would perform roles such as an insurance sales agent, investment advisor, customer relationship manager, business development representative, etc. This could be across enterprise accounts as well as individual customers.
According to Talent.com, a financial services sales representative makes an average of $68,250, with the salary range going up to $105,587 with experience and specialization.
Most sales jobs in financial services expect a background in business, accounting, finance, or analytics. In the absence of this, candidates with sales experience are preferred. Understanding the financial services industry and its legal implications can be helpful.
BLS projects a 4% growth in financial services agent jobs for the decade ending 2030. However, market trends indicate that the financial services industry is evolving. Customers are now demanding more self-service options, making it critical for sales representatives to build trust and long-term relationships with them. Sales professionals who can adapt to the rapid digitization and offer additional value have the potential to stand out.
How to Earn a Higher Salary in Your Sales Career
If you’re looking to build a career in sales, here is how you can maximize your earning potential:
From the list of roles above, you would notice that high-paying jobs in sales differ from one another. A pharmaceutical sales associate would have a different role and need different skills than a technology sales executive. Choosing your specialization also allows you to build a strong foundation in the field. It is also helpful to monitor and capitalize on market trends while making critical career decisions.
Consider Different Territories/Locations in Your Industry
Once you have established your footing in your territory, expand your reach in different territories or locations around you. Build connections with the extended networks of your customers to strengthen the potential of your prospective clients.
Prioritize Your Network/Book of Business
Most customers purchase from people they trust, so building relationships with clients and referrals from them are fundamental to a promising sales career. So, to meet your sales quotas and earn more, focus on your existing network. Request referrals and grow your network that way. Prioritize these prospects over cold calling.
Since you’re here…
Curious about a career in tech sales? Learn more with our tech sales career guide, or dive right in with our Tech Sales Bootcamp. We’ll help you seamlessly switch careers in a matter of months, or your tuition money back. See our student success stories for inspiration – people are changing careers with us every day!