Sales Representatives


Education and Training Requirements

High School

A high school diploma is required for most sales positions, although an increasing number of salespeople are graduates of two- or four-year colleges. In high school, take classes such as business, mathematics, psychology, speech, and economics that will teach you to deal with customers and financial transactions.

Postsecondary Training

Some areas of sales work require specialized college work. Those in engineering sales, for example, usually have a college degree in a relevant engineering field. Other fields that demand specific college degrees include chemical sales (chemistry or chemical engineering), office systems (accounting or business administration), and pharmaceuticals and drugs (biology, chemistry, biotechnology, or pharmacy). Those in less technical sales positions usually benefit from course work in English, speech, psychology, marketing, public relations, economics, advertising, finance, accounting, and business law.

Other Education or Training

The Sales Management Association offers webinars, classes and workshops to help sales reps keep their skills up to date. Past offerings included “Social Strategies for Sales Leaders” and "New Product Selling: What Works.” The Association of National Advertisers and the Manufacturers' Agents National Association also offer continuing education opportunities. Contact these organizations for more information. 

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Sales representatives can elevate their marketability by securing designation as a certified professional sales consultant or a certified professional manufacturers' representative, both of which are offered by the Manufacturers' Representatives Education Research Foundation to applicants who complete formal training and pass an exam. Additionally, the American Marketing Association (AMA) offers sales management certification to those who score 80 percent or higher on a 100-question multiple-choice test. Contact these organizations for more information.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

No previous experience is needed, but any sales experience one can obtain in the field—such as an internship, volunteering, or a part-time job—will be useful. 

To be a successful sales representative, you should enjoy working with people. You should also be self-confident and enthusiastic, and self-disciplined. You must be able to handle rejection since only a small number of your sales contacts will result in a sale.