Sales engineers work for industrial, scientific, and technological companies, selling advanced, complex products and services to customers. The Department of Labor reported that in May 2019, there were 64,500 sales engineers employed in the United States. Many work for companies that offer computer systems design and related services, and for wholesale electronics markets and agents and brokers. Other employers include machinery, equipment, and supplies merchant wholesalers; and professional and commercial equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers.
Sales engineers start out in entry-level positions, usually training with more senior-level sales engineers. Some have prior sales experience in other technical areas. This is a competitive field with average employment growth expected for the next few years. Those with a bachelor's degree in engineering or other field related to the products and services they sell, along with strong sales skills, will have the best job prospects.
Sales engineers who succeed in selling products and services may receive higher commissions and bonuses, as well as be assigned larger territories to cover. They may advance to become managers, training and supervising the work of junior and entry-level sales staff. They may also advance their skills by receiving certification in sales specialties and speaking at trade conferences.
Tips for Entry
Gain sales experience through an internship or part-time job in a company that produces and sells scientific or technological products and services.
Learn more about what sales engineers do through the National Association of Sales Engineers' Web site; this is a student-driven group associated with California Polytechnic State University (also known as Cal Poly): https://www.nationalsse.com.
Explore the educational and certification programs offered by the Manufacturers' Representatives Educational Research Foundation.