California Occupational Guides

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Detailed Guide for

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

May also be called: Sales Representatives; Account Managers; Account Executives; Salesmen; Outside Sales Representatives; Sales Consultants; Account Representatives; Customer Account Technicians; Inside Sales Persons; and Marketing Associates

What Would I Do?

Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing, except Technical and Scientific Products sell products for wholesalers or manufacturers to businesses or groups of individuals, such as distributors, retail stores and other sales outlets, construction contractors, government agencies, and other institutions. They also sell goods to other manufacturers and wholesale establishments. This broad occupational classification is found in a variety of industries, but does not include workers who sell scientific or technical goods and products at a wholesale level.

Sales Representatives must have extensive knowledge of their merchandise because they work closely with customers to answer questions and concerns about products, point out the advantages of their products over the competition, and work to get the most products sold. Representatives advise clients on how using their products can reduce costs and increase sales. They discuss prices, special buying opportunities, and availability of products with their customers. Sometimes they work with their customers to display merchandise in an attractive fashion to stimulate sales. Generally, after sales are made, Representatives make follow-up visits to ensure that their customers are satisfied with their products. They also demonstrate and train people on how to use their products.

Obtaining new clients is an important part of the job. Sales Representatives follow leads from other clients, track advertisements in trade journals, and participate in trade shows and conferences. They use tools such as laptop computers connected to the Internet, or other telecommunication devices, so they can make a persuasive audiovisual sales pitch and answer questions immediately. They also use computer programs such as calendar and scheduling software and e-mail to aid in time management.

Sales Representatives have several duties beyond selling products. They analyze sales statistics; prepare reports; and handle administrative duties, such as filing expense account reports, scheduling appointments, and making travel plans. They also read about new and existing products and monitor the sales, prices, and products of their competitors.

Sales Representatives may work for one company or they may market products for several manufacturers or wholesalers. Those employed directly by manufacturers or wholesalers are often called Sales Representatives. Those who sell directly to consumers are called Retail Salespersons. Manufacturers’ Agents or Manufacturers’ Representatives are self-employed Sales Representatives who contract their services to many types of manufacturing companies. They may sell several related products made by different manufacturers, thus, taking a broad approach to their customers’ business.

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
Answer customers' questions about products, prices, availability, product uses, and credit terms.Customer and Personal Service
Recommend products to customers, based on customers' needs and interests.Persuasion
Contact regular and prospective customers to demonstrate products, explain product features, and solicit orders.Sales and Marketing
Estimate or quote prices, credit or contract terms, warranties, and delivery dates.Mathematics
Consult with clients after sales or contract signings in order to resolve problems and to provide ongoing support.Active Listening
Prepare drawings, estimates, and bids that meet specific customer needs.Written Expression
Identify prospective customers by using business directories, following leads from existing clients, participating in organizations and clubs, and attending trade shows and conferences.Service Orientation
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Working Conditions

Sales Representatives spend much of their time traveling to visit with prospective buyers and current clients. Some Sales Representatives work in well-lit, comfortable office settings calling customers and completing paperwork. Others may spend most of their day out in the field where working conditions may range from driving an air-conditioned car to demonstrating construction equipment in a muddy field in the rain. Representatives may stand on their feet for long periods during the day. They need physical strength and stamina to carry awkward or heavy sample products and/or catalogs to show to their customers.

Sales Representatives may work long, irregular hours and over 40 hours per week. However, most have the freedom to determine their own work schedules. In addition, they may spend time meeting with and entertaining prospective clients during evenings and weekends. Some Representatives have large territories and can spend several days, or even weeks, working away from home.

The job of Sales Representative can be exciting and stimulating, especially when a sale is made. However, the job can also be stressful and demanding. For example, Sales Representatives generally face competition from Representatives of other companies. In addition, most Representatives work on commission so they may have deadlines and added pressure to sell products to existing customers and to call other businesses in order to expand their clientele.

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, especially business ventures. This occupation satisfies those with enterprising interests. Enterprising occupations involve persuading and leading people, making decisions, and taking risks for profit. Individuals with enterprising interests generally prefer action rather than thought.

Those who want to become Sales Representatives should be goal oriented, persuasive, and able to work well both independently and as part of a team. A pleasant personality and appearance, the ability to communicate well with people, and problem-solving skills are highly valued. Patience and perseverance also are necessary to completing a sale, which can take several months.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

Compensation methods vary significantly by the type of firm and the product sold. Most employers use a combination of salary and commission or salary plus bonus. Representatives who are self-employed may receive straight commission where payments are based on the value of their own sales.


The median wage in 2017 for Sales Representatives, Except Technical in California was $55,990 annually, or $26.92 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 2017Low
(25th percentile)
(50th percentile)
(75th percentile)
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2017 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas


Sales Representatives may receive medical, dental, vacation, and sick leave benefits. They may also gain personal use of a company car and frequent flyer mileage. Some companies offer incentives, such as free vacation trips or gifts for outstanding sales workers. In addition to their earnings, Representatives are usually reimbursed for expenses such as transportation costs, meals, hotels, and entertaining customers.

What is the Job Outlook?

Employment of Sales Representatives in wholesale and manufacturing industries is expected to increase, primarily due to the continued growth in the variety and number of goods sold. Many job openings will result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force. Employment opportunities and earnings fluctuate from year to year as changing economic conditions, legislative issues, and consumer preferences affect sales. Employment opportunities will be best for those with a college degree, the appropriate knowledge or experience, and the personal traits necessary for successful selling.

Projections of Employment

In California, the number of Sales Representatives, Except Technical is expected to grow slower than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Sales Representatives, Except Technical are expected to increase by 11.1 percent, or 15,800 jobs between 2014 and 2024.

Estimated Employment and Projected Growth
Sales Representatives, Except Technical
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 1,580 new job openings per year is expected for Sales Representatives, Except Technical, plus an additional 2,940 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 4,520 job openings.

Estimated Average Annual Job Openings
Sales Representatives, Except Technical
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

The background needed for sales jobs varies by product line and market. Many employers hire individuals with previous sales experience who lack a college degree, but they increasingly prefer or require a bachelor’s degree. Some employers hire individuals with no experience and provide training for them. For some consumer products, factors such as sales ability and familiarity with brands are more important than educational background. In general, companies are looking for the best and brightest individuals who have the personality and desire to sell.


Many companies have formal training programs for beginning Sales Representatives lasting up to two years. In some programs, trainees rotate among jobs in plants and offices to learn all phases of production, installation, and distribution of the product. In others, trainees take formal classroom instruction at the plant, followed by on-the-job training under the supervision of a field sales manager.

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.

Work Study Programs

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.

Continuing Education

Continuing Education is not required; however, it is important that Sales Representatives remain knowledgeable about new products and the changing needs of their customers. Therefore, they may attend seminars in sales techniques or take courses in marketing, economics, communication, or even a foreign language to provide the extra edge needed to make sales. They also attend conferences, trade shows, and conventions to meet other Sales Representatives and clients and discuss new product developments. In addition, the entire sales force may participate in company-sponsored meetings to review sales performance, product development, sales goals, and profitability.


There are many certifications designed to raise standards and develop the skills of Sales Representatives. A few examples are the Certified Professional Manufacturer, the Certified Sales Professional, and the 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:

  • Search by Field of Study to find what programs are available and what schools offer those programs. You may use keywords such as: Apparel and Accessories Marketing Operations; Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services, Other; Fashion Merchandising; General Merchandising, Sales, and Related Marketing Operations, Other; Sales, Distribution, and Marketing Operations, General; Special Products Marketing Operations; and Specialized Merchandising, Sales, and Marketing Operations, Other.
  • Search by Training Provider to find schools by name, type of school, or location.

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, Except Technical are as follows:

Industry TitlePercent of Total Employment for Occupation in California
Electronic Markets and Agents/Brokers14.7%
Misc Nondurable Goods Merchant Whsle5.8%
Machinery & Supply Merchant Wholesalers5.4%
Electric Goods Merchant Wholesalers4.8%
Commercial Goods Merchant Wholesalers4.7%
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 referrals.  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, Except Technical.

  • Automobile Parts, Supplies, & Accessories - Whsle & Mfrs
  • Contractor’s Equipment & Supplies
  • Farm Equipment
  • Furniture Dealers - Whsle
  • Grocers & Markets - Whsle
  • Manufacturers’ Agents & Representatives

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. In addition to advancement opportunities within a firm, some Manufacturers’ Agents go into business for themselves.

Related Occupations

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

Demonstrators and Product PromotersProfile
Public Relations SpecialistsGuide
Retail SalespersonsGuide
Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing, Technical and Scientific ProductsGuide
Wholesale and Retail Buyers, Except Farm ProductsProfile

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 Classification41-4012
O*NET - Occupational Information Network
   Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing, Except Technical and Scientific Products41-4012.00
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)CER
CIP - Classification of Instructional Programs
   Sales, Distribution, and Marketing Operations, General 521801
   General Merchandising, Sales, & Related Marketing Operations521899
   Business, Management, Marketing, & Related Support Services529999
TOP - Taxonomy of Programs (California Community Colleges)
   Marketing and Distribution050900
   Other Business and Management059900