Career Paths >> Browse Articles >> Getting into Sales


Step 5: Identify Educational Requirements

Step 5: Identify Educational Requirements

Identify Educational Requirements & John Rossheim

From biotech to carbon credits to the robots that have replaced factory workers, 2008 will see the continued proliferation of complex products, creating a need for salespeople with high-level skills and special subject-matter expertise.

Specialization and Education Are Key

“The demand for educated, trained sales professionals is very high,” says Hoffmeister. About half of DePaul graduates with a major in business and a minor in sales have secured a job by commencement day; 90 percent are employed within three months, Hoffmeister says.

Some employers, large companies in particular, prefer applicants with a college degree for sales positions that require meeting with clients. High school graduates may be hired if they have proven sales ability or have been successful in other types of work.

Your choice of undergraduate major may or may not be important depending on the area of sales you are considering. Majors that translate well to many sales careers include marketing, communications, business, advertising, and psychology.

Industry Professionals

If you are considering a niche sales profession, your choice of major may of greater importance. For example, Financial Services companies may prefer candidates who have completed coursework in finance, accounting, or mathematics. Many areas of sales related to health care and pharmaceuticals prefer or require candidates with a strong background in science.

In addition to the proper educational preparation, some sales professions require meeting your state’s licensing requirements. Licensing is typically involved in health care sales industries such as pharmaceuticals and insurance, as well as in financial services and real estate.

After you have identified your industry, research the required education and/or licensing for an entry-level position. Even if you meet the minimum requirements, it may be worthwhile to take additional coursework that is relevant to the industry as well as public speaking and sales courses.

Explore courses and degree programs for your industry

Next: Step 6: Build Your Network