Sales managers are some of the primary strategists of an organization, directing the distribution of personnel resources and developing policies and procedures for teams of agents to follow. Here's some detailed info about sales manager careers, including where the jobs are and how much they pay.

Sales performance can make or break an earnings period for retailers and wholesalers, and the right sales manager can go a long way toward ensuring that sales teams consistently hit their numbers. If you think you've got what it takes to dive into a business career and meet the daily challenges of motivating and directing a sales force, then it might be time to work toward one of the thousands of sales manager careers opening up every year.

How Much do Sales Managers Make?

The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates a mean annual salary of $126,040 for careers in sales management in 2014, with median wages working out to $53.20 per hour. Even the bottom 10 percent of earners in the field took home as much as $53,620 annually, which is more than the national salary average across all occupations in 2014. The top 25 percent of sales manager salaries came in above $160,520 for the year.

Particular geographical regions within the U.S. reported average salaries that differed from the overall national average, with some areas paying up to 140 percent of the national figure. Here are the five highest-paying states for sales manager careers in 2014, according to BLS numbers:

  • New York: $174,600
  • Delaware: $162,990
  • New Jersey: $147,740
  • Massachusetts: $144,490
  • Virginia: $143,030

Certain industries paid sales managers more than others, as well; sales manager careers in securities and commodities brokerage averaged $191,950 in 2014, and other financial investment activities paid a mean annual figure of $187,900.

Occupational Requirements and Job Types for Sales Managers

Many sales managers have business administration degrees or graduate certificates in certain aspects of business or management. At least a bachelor's degree is typically required for management positions, although some firms may accept extensive professional experience in place of formal education.

The path to most careers in sales management starts at the ground level, as a sales agent working at the individual transaction level. Sources at the BLS suggest that large organizations offer greater potential for advancement, since smaller companies often require fewer management personnel overall and positions tend to open up with less frequency.

Some industries, particularly those concerned with the distribution of goods and professional services, have more opportunity than others for careers in sales management. These four industries supported the largest percentages of sales manager careers in 2012:

  1. Retail trade: 20 percent
  2. Wholesale trade: 20 percent
  3. Manufacturing: 13 percent
  4. Finance and insurance: 10 percent

Sales managers typically work in office environments, although travel is occasionally necessary for professional conferences and trips to regional or national company offices.

Projected Career Growth for Sales Managers

According to BLS projections, approximately 30,000 new sales manager careers should be created between 2012 and 2022, thanks to expected 8 percent overall employment growth in the field. Some regional markets are projected to make greater percentage gains than others, and knowing where the jobs are expected to emerge can help aspiring sales managers focus their efforts on the strongest career markets.

Here are the top five states for careers in sales management between 2012 and 2022, according to state-by-state data collected by Career InfoNet:

  1. Utah: 22.4 percent growth; 760 new positions expected
  2. Colorado: 21.7 percent growth; 910 new positions expected
  3. Arizona: 21.6 percent growth; 1,970 new positions expected
  4. Texas: 20.4 percent growth; 4,820 new positions expected
  5. North Dakota: 20.4 percent growth; 160 new positions expected

Additionally, the BLS lists automobile dealers, alcoholic beverage wholesalers and department stores among the specific industries where growth in sales manager careers should produce the highest number of individual jobs. If you're looking for a well-paying, fast-paced career with elements of problem solving and a fair amount of independence in the workplace, one of these emerging careers in sales management might just be the job you've been looking for.

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Article Sources

1. Sales Managers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, accessed May 28, 2015,
2. Sales Managers, Occupational Employment Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, accessed May 28, 2015,
3. Sales Managers, Occupational Information Network, accessed May 28, 2015,
4. Employment Trends by Occupation Across States, Career InfoNet, accessed May 28, 2015,