The Many Types of Sales Jobs

For nearly every industry that exists, there is a corresponding sales career. For those interested in either starting a sales career or changing from one sales industry to another, there are many choices, not to mention different factors to consider from education and experience to pay and the hours needed in order to succeed. 

This list of sales careers is not intended to be exhaustive, complete or the definitive collection. Its intention is to serve as a quick and dynamic list of some of the most popular sales careers. So check back often to read more about the many faces (and types) of sales careers.

01
IT Industry Sales Careers

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The IT industry is one that affords successful sales professionals a substantial income opportunity as well as job security. However, both of these wonderful benefits can lapse quickly by the rapidly changing nature of the IT world.

For those already in and for those considering IT sales as their career, having a long-term commitment to education and learning new skills is of paramount importance.

According to Payscale.com, the average salary for an IT sales professional as of 2018 ranged between $30,000 and $119,000. How much you make obviously depends on factors such as company size, responsibilities and, of course, where you are located. 

02
Real Estate Careers

For sale sign

Photography taken by Mario Gutiérrez./Getty Images 

Real estate sales professionals, aka "agents," have the enviable job of helping people own their piece of the American dream. While agents do much more than just sell homes for and to people, essentially their job is close deals. For those who do that well, the rewards can be incredible.

But the allure of an unlimited income and the freedom of real estate sales hides a very important but critical success factor — like any other sales profession, success does not come before hard work.

You will need the right personality to successfully close the deal. Consider all the responsibilities such as marketing, time management, knowing how to figure out your clients' needs and wants and negotiating, among others. If you can handle all of this, then this might be the right career for you.  

You'll also need to be licensed as a real estate professional, meaning you will need to pass state and national exams. Each state has its own requirements when it comes to training, so it's a good idea to check that out first. 

The national average salary per Payscale.com ranged between $24,000 and $104,000 as of 2018.

03
Medical Devices Sales Careers

Caucasian doctor and businessman talking in hospital

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Of all the career industries, none provide as much security as healthcare. The percentage of each dollar spent that goes toward healthcare rises each year. With all that money going into the industry, the money available for successful sales professionals is amazing.

The question is not whether a sales career in the healthcare industry should be a consideration, but which avenue a sales professional should explore.

This is such a diverse industry, that the options for growth can be tremendous. With medical technology booming, there are so many different niches in this industry: surgical equipment, nanotechnology and durable medical equipment to name a few. 

You will need great customer service skills, along with knowledge of the industry, time management, and patience. A lot of what these salespeople do is cold call potential clients including public and private hospitals.

According to the 2018 Medical Device Salary Report from Med.com, the average salary in the industry (without any bonus or compensation) was $93,269. 

04
Independent Sales Reps

Call the expert. She knows what she's talking about

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Sometimes, jobs that offer the income potential that you need can't be found. When the economy takes a turn for the worst, jobs are often the first victim. But companies that make a product or have a service still need to have someone sell their wares to customers. When hiring a sales force doesn't make fiscal sense, many companies turn to independent sales reps to carry their flag.

Because of this factor, there is usually an abundance of independent sales reps positions available. So for those self-motivated sales professionals who can take risks involved with not having a base salary, a career as an independent sales rep may be the best and most secure choice they can make.

05
Food Service Sales

Shipping Department

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There are two things that everyone in the world needs. One is air to breathe and the other is food to eat. Those in the food service sales industry are responsible for selling food and food-related items to establishments that help people meet their second need of eating food.

Food service sales reps almost always represent a restaurant supply distributor, though some may work exclusively for food distributors. No matter who a food service sales rep works for, they should expect stiff competition, a lot of networking and a job that extends beyond the normal working hours.

The median salary for a sales person in the food services industry was $48,840, according to Payscale.com's 2018 data. 

06
Manufacturer's Representatives

Businessman and businesswoman touring fiber optic factory floor

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Much like independent sales reps, manufacturer's representatives sell products for a specific manufacturer. While there is seldom a rule that demands that a sales professional represents only one manufacturer, most manufacturers prefer their reps sell only their products.

For those with excellent time management and professional networking skills, selling for a manufacturer (or two) offers numerous rewards and benefits.

Your training and education will likely be based on the types of products you're tasked with selling. So you may be required to have a manufacturing technology degree, a background in IT or even in engineering. 

For people working in the technical side of the industry, Payscale.com reported the median pay in 2018 was $55,772. For those who sold other types of products, the average salary was $48,599. 

07
Pharmaceutical Sales

Salesman who promotes the sales of medical supply

Michael H/Getty Images 

The pharmaceutical industry is poised for rapid growth, with an aging population in need of medication and healthcare, as well as a rise in the number of drugs receiving FDA approval. 

These sales people will typically work with one supplier. Finding new customers may mean cold calling or walking into hospitals. medical centers, doctors' offices and HMOs. 

Successful sales reps in the pharmaceutical industry will need great customer service skills along with product knowledge. They'll also need some basic medical knowledge, patient protocols and best practices, as well as knowledge of trends in the industry. 

The average salary for a pharmaceutical sales rep, according to Payscale.com in 2018, ranged between $47,630 and $111,020.