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:
- Retail trade: 20 percent
- Wholesale trade: 20 percent
- Manufacturing: 13 percent
- 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.