Automobile Sales Workers


Employment Prospects


The U.S. Department of Labor reports that there are approximately 4.6 million retail sales workers employed in the United States, of which 6 percent are motor vehicle dealers. Franchised automobile dealerships employ the majority of automobile sales workers in the United States. A franchised automobile dealer is a dealer that is formally recognized and authorized by the manufacturer to sell its vehicles. A small number of sales workers are employed by used car dealerships that are strictly independent and not recognized by any manufacturer. Automotive superstores need automobile sales workers as well, although some may argue that these workers aren't truly automobile sales specialists because they tend to have less training and experience in the automotive area.

Starting Out

Generally, those just out of high school are not going to land a job as an automobile sales worker; older customers do not feel comfortable making such a large investment through a teenager. Employers prefer to see some previous automotive industry experience with certification, such as National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence certification, or postsecondary training in automotive selling, such as Northwood University's certified automotive merchandiser certificate. Dealerships will hire those with proven sales skill in a different field for sales worker positions and give them on-the-job training.

Employers frequently post job openings at schools that provide postsecondary education in business administration or automotive marketing. Certified automotive technicians or body repairers who think they might eventually like to break into a sales job should look for employment at dealership service centers. They will have frequent contact with sales workers and make connections with dealership managers and owners, as well as become so familiar with one or more models of a manufacturer's cars that they will make well-informed, knowledgeable sales workers. 

Some dealerships will hire young workers with little experience in automobile services but who can demonstrate proven skills in sales and a willingness to learn. These workers will learn on the job. They may first be given administrative tasks. Eventually they will accompany experienced sales workers on the showroom floor and learn "hands-on." After about a year, the workers will sell on their own, and managers will evaluate their selling skills in sales meetings and suggest ways they can improve their sales records.

Advancement Prospects

The longer sales workers stay with a dealership, the larger their client base grows and the more cars are sold. Advancement for many sales workers comes in the form of increased earnings and customer loyalty. Other sales workers may be promoted through a combination of experience and further training or certification.

As positions open, sales workers with proven management skills go on to be assistant and general managers. Managers with excellent sales skills and a good client base may open a new franchise dealership or their own independent dealership.

Tips for Entry

Participate in retail-oriented internships or part-time jobs that are arranged by your high school or college’s career services office. 

Obtain sales experience in order to make yourself more attractive to potential employers.

Talk with auto sales workers. Ask them for advice on preparing for and entering the field.