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Sales Salaries and Education

Sales Salaries and Education

You’ve heard that your base salary is largely determined by your education level – but did you ever wonder exactly how much education matters in sales? If you’ve got enough smarts and good communication skills, it shouldn’t matter whether or not you have formal training – right?

Wrong. At least, it might not be so simple. With products becoming increasingly technical in a downsized job market, companies will undoubtedly favor hiring candidates with strong educational backgrounds. Because employees with formal training in business, marketing, or a technical field are preferred, the relationship between compensation and education is becoming even more prominent across different sectors of the economy.

An Investment That Pays Dividends

The educational and training requirements for sales jobs vary by industry. Selling magazine subscriptions and selling machinery require very different levels of background knowledge.

In general, the more technical or vital a product or service is to the lives of customers, the more that a college degree will be required and expected from sales representatives. After all, if a purchase is a critical or expensive investment for a client, employers will want an educated team member to handle the sale and to properly inform the buyer. For that reason alone, positions selling financial services, medical products, engineered products, or new computer technology are generally held by bachelors degree holders in a relevant subject area. Some fields, such as insurance sales, also require a sales rep to pass a licensing examination before they begin their employment.

The investment of education will not only allow you entry into more sales industries, but it will pay off in a higher base salary as well. The following chart from PayScale offers current median sales salaries by education level. These figures exclude annual commission, and are based on average salaries across industry types

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