California Occupational Guides

Summary Guide  (Printer Friendly)
Detailed Guide   (Printer Friendly)
   Detailed Report-Jump to: 
         Top of Page
         What Would I Do?
         Wages and Benefits
         Job Outlook
         How Do I Qualify?
         What Employers Say...
Job Search Tips

I want to: 
   Search by Topic
   Search by Keyword


Change Your Area:

Select your county from the list:

Change Occupation:

1. Enter a keyword and click the "GO!" button:

2. Select an occupation from the results listed
below and click the "Get Information" button.

Detailed Guide for

Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing, Technical and Scientific Products in California

May also be called: Account Managers; Sales Managers; Sales Representatives

Specialties within this occupation include: Inside Sales Representatives; Outside Sales Representatives

What Would I Do?

Technical and Scientific Products Sales Representatives are a critical component to any manufacturer or wholesaler. The success of the company depends on the success of the Sales Representatives’ ability to establish connections with prospective buyers and persuade them to make a purchase. Completing sales transactions not only benefits the manufacturer but also benefits the Sales Representative. Most Sales Representatives receive a bonus or a commission on the total number of sales they complete.

Some Sales Representatives work directly for a manufacturer, while others work for independent sales companies who are responsible for selling the products of multiple manufacturers. Sales Representatives need a high level of expertise in the products they sell to provide clients with accurate information and training on purchases. Also, they must be able to answer technical questions regarding appropriate use of the equipment.

Sales Representatives who lack the necessary expertise about a given product may team with a technical expert who attends the sales presentation to explain the product and answer questions or concerns. He or she makes the preliminary contact with customers, introduces the company's product, and closes the sale. Under such an arrangement, the Representative is able to spend more time maintaining and soliciting accounts and less time acquiring technical knowledge.

Sales Representatives have several duties beyond selling products. Those selling consumer goods often suggest how and where merchandise should be displayed. When working with retailers, they may help arrange promotional programs, store displays, and advertising. They analyze sales statistics, prepare reports, and handle administrative duties such as filing expense accounts, scheduling appointments, and making travel plans. They also read about new and existing products and monitor the sales, prices, and products of their competitors.

Inside Sales Representatives spend the majority of their time in an office setting, speaking to current clients or "cold calling" potential clients via telephone in order to establish contact.

Outside Sales Representatives spend the majority of their time traveling to the job or office site of current or potential clients. During site visits the Sales Representative may perform product demonstrations, distribute samples or catalogs, and discuss the ways in which their products would benefit the client.

Important Tasks and Related Skills

Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.

View the skill definitions
TaskSkill Used in this Task
Contact new and existing customers to discuss their needs, and to explain how these needs could be met by specific products and services.Sales and Marketing
Visit establishments to evaluate needs and to promote product or service sales.Critical Thinking
Emphasize product features based on analyses of customers' needs, and on technical knowledge of product capabilities and limitations.Persuasion
Maintain customer records, using automated systems.Monitoring
Identify prospective customers by using business directories, following leads from existing clients, participating in organizations and clubs, and attending trade shows and conferences.Complex Problem Solving
Prepare sales presentations and proposals that explain product specifications and applications.Oral Expression
Provide customers with ongoing technical support.Customer and Personal Service
Attend sales and trade meetings, and read related publications in order to obtain information about market conditions, business trends, and industry developments.Written Comprehension
Complete expense reports, sales reports, and other paperwork.Information Ordering
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Working Conditions

Sales Representatives are typically assigned to specific geographic locations, with larger territories requiring greater amounts of travel. Representatives assigned to larger territories generally travel by plane and are frequently away from home for several days or weeks at a time. Sales Representatives are often on their feet for long periods of time and may carry heavy sample products, requiring some physical stamina. Sales Representatives typically work 40 hours a week, although longer shifts are common. Sales calls or meetings generally take place during regular business hours leaving administrative duties, such as sale orders, to be completed in the evenings or on the weekends. However, most Representatives have the freedom to determine their own work schedules.

Interaction with current and prospective clients can be stimulating but demanding. Sales Representatives are generally required to meet goals and sales quotas which can lead to pressure and stress as their income and job security are directly related to the amount of merchandise they sell.

Sales Representatives may belong to organizations such as the Manufacturers’ Agents National Association or the Manufacturers’ Representatives Educational Research Foundation.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Sales Representative will appeal to those who enjoy starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations often require a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges with little or no supervision.

Sales Representatives need to have excellent communication skills, both written and oral, as well as strong listening skills in order to effectively assess client needs. In addition, a Sales Representative will need patience and persistence in order to complete a sales transaction, which can take weeks to complete.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

Compensation methods vary by the type of firm and the product sold. Most employers use a combination of salary and commission or salary plus bonus. Commission usually is based on the amount of sales, whereas bonuses may depend on individual performance, the performance of all sales workers in the group or district, or the company’s performance.


The median wage in 2016 for Sales Representatives, Technical and Scientific in California is $81,172 annually, or $39.03 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2016Low
(25th percentile)
(50th percentile)
(75th percentile)
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2016 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas


Sales Representatives working directly for a manufacturer or wholesaler usually are reimbursed for expenses such as transportation costs, meals, hotels, and en­tertaining customers. They often receive benefits such as health and life insurance, vacation and sick leave, pension plans, personal use of a company car, and frequent flyer mileage.

What is the Job Outlook?

Technical and Scientific Products Sales Representatives can expect to face competition from other prospective job seekers. Opportunities for employment will be best for those with a four-year college degree, the appropriate technical expertise, and the personal traits necessary for successful selling.

Like most sales positions, employment as a Sales Representative is subject to the fluctuations of the economy. Workers in this field may experience periods of unemployment or reduction in hours during economic downturns.

Projections of Employment

In California, the number of Sales Representatives, Technical and Scientific is expected to grow at an average rate compared with the total for all occupations. Jobs for Sales Representatives, Technical and Scientific are expected to increase by 14.7 percent, or 6,900 jobs between 2014 and 2024.

Estimated Employment and Projected Growth
Sales Representatives, Technical and Scientific
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Additional Openings
Due to Net
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Projected Growth for All Areas

Annual Job Openings

In California, an average of 700 new job openings per year is expected for Sales Representatives, Technical and Scientific, plus an additional 960 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 1,660 job openings.

Estimated Average Annual Job Openings
Sales Representatives, Technical and Scientific
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-
Projected Year)
Jobs From GrowthJobs Due to
Net Replacements
Total Annual
Job Openings
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Data for All Areas

How Do I Qualify?

Education, Training, and Other Requirements

Increasingly, the majority of Sales Representatives require applicants to possess, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree. On-the-job training varies between companies. Most organizations have short training periods in order to place the Sales Representative into the field and begin maintaining sales accounts. However, some training programs last up to two years for beginning Representatives. In some training programs trainees rotate among jobs in plants and offices to learn all phases of production, installation, and distribution. In others, trainees take formal classroom instruction at the plant, followed by on-the-job training under the supervision of a field sales manager. During the training period, Sales Representatives learn detailed information regarding the products being sold in order to answer any questions that may be asked during a sales call.


Employers generally prefer new hires to have prior sales experience. Experience may be more important than formal education for some industries.

Early Career Planning

High school students who are interested in the job of Sales Representative should take classes in English, business, mathematics, and computers. Courses in public speaking, communication, and theater arts can help students who wish to learn how to communicate more effectively.

California offers Regional Occupational Program (ROP) courses, such as Retail and Sales Careers and Sales and Merchandising. To find an ROP program near you, go to the California Association of Regional Occupational Centers and Programs Web site at

Continuing Education

Continuing education is not required; however, in order to stay on top of current products or market trends, Sales Representatives often attend seminars, workshops, and new product exhibitions. These venues allow Sales Representatives to learn about new products from their manufacturers and competitors in order to provide clients with current equipment and product information, as well as provide a networking opportunity with peers.


There are many voluntary certifications designed to raise standards and develop the skills of Sales Representatives. A few examples are the Certified Professional Manufacturer, Certified Sales Professional, and Certified Construction Product Representative. Certification may involve completion of formal training and passing an examination. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.

Where Can I Find Training?

There are two ways to search for training information:

Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.

Where Would I Work?

The largest industries employing Sales Representatives, Technical and Scientific are as follows:

Industry TitlePercent of Total Employment for Occupation in California
Electronic Markets and Agents/Brokers 16.1%
Commercial Goods Merchant Wholesalers 11.9%
Computer Systems Design and Rel Services 9.4%
Software Publishers 6.3%
Electric Goods Merchant Wholesalers 5.6%
Source: EDD/LMID Staffing Patterns

Finding a Job

Applicants should apply directly to manufacturers and wholesalers. Sales Representatives can also find employment opportunities through placement offices at colleges and universities. Frequently, Sales Representatives, customers, and others working within the trade will recommend an interested candidate for an existing opening. Newspaper classified advertisements offer additional sources of job openings. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Yellow Page Headings

You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Sales Representatives, Technical and Scientific.

  • Manufacturers' Agents and Represenatives
  • Sales Organizations
  • Sales Promotion Service

Find Possible Employers

To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:

  • Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
  • Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
  • Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
  • Contact the employer for possible employment.

Where Could This Job Lead?

Promotion often takes the form of an assignment to a larger account or territory where commissions are likely to be greater. Experienced Sales Representatives may move into jobs as sales trainers who instruct new employees on selling techniques and on company policies and procedures. Those who have good sales records and leadership ability may advance to higher-level positions, such as sales supervisor, district manager, or vice president of sales. Some Sales Representatives go into business for themselves.

Related Occupations

Below is a list of occupations related to Sales Representatives, Technical and Scientific with links to more information.

Demonstrators and Product PromotersProfile
Insurance Sales AgentsProfile
Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing, Except Technical and Scientific ProductsGuide

Other Sources

These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.

For the Career Professional

The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.

SOC - Standard Occupational Classification41-4011
O*NET - Occupational Information Network
   Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing, Technical and Scientific Products41-4011.00
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)ECR
   Solar Sales Representatives and Assessors41-4011.07
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)ECR
CIP - Classification of Instructional Programs
   Selling Skills and Sales Operations 521804
   Business, Management, Marketing, & Related Support Services529999
TOP - Taxonomy of Programs (California Community Colleges)
   Sales and Salesmanship050940
   Other Business and Management059900