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How Much Do Car Saleswomen Make?

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Putting Customers Behind the Wheel Takes Knowledge, Persuasive Skills

Aside from buying a house, buying a car is one of the biggest purchases we'll make in a lifetime. As a car saleswoman, you'll provide customers with the information that will inform their choices. As you get started in the field, you may work long hours, but most experienced car salespeople work a regular schedule, enabling them to balance work and family life. The average base salary for a car saleswoman is around $21,000 per year, but that doesn't include bonuses and commissions. Actual take-home pay can be much higher.

Job Description

As a car saleswoman, you'll show cars to customers and answer their questions. People buy cars for a variety of reasons, and a big part of your job is finding out what motivates them to make a purchase. Do they need a reliable vehicle to get to work? Is safety the most important issue? Will they be transporting children, pets or large items such as sports equipment? Perhaps styling and prestige are the biggest factors influencing the buying decision.

Education Requirements

There are no formal education requirements for car sales. Most dealerships will hire individuals who possess a high school diploma. It's extremely important to have good people skills. Purchasing a car is one of life's big decisions, and customers must be able to view you as friendly and trustworthy. It's also important to learn as much you can about the vehicles you'll be selling so you can provide accurate information to your customers. You have to be knowledgeable about your product if you're going to successfully persuade people to buy.

If you're going to take college courses in preparation for a career in car sales, focus on marketing, finance, psychology and public speaking. Most large dealerships will have their own sales training program and may even send you to a national training center to acquire the knowledge you'll need.

Certification is voluntary and may enhance your job opportunities once you have experience in auto sales. Both the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) and the Society of Automotive Sales Professionals (SASP) offer this credential.

About the Industry

On average, a car salesperson sells about 11 cars per month. The amount you earn on each transaction varies according to a number of factors. In general, there is more room for profit in the sale of used cars as opposed to new. Pay structure can vary from one dealership to another. Some dealerships pay a small salary and then give you a commission on the cars you sell. Other dealerships will offer a guaranteed minimum that you'll earn for each sale, so, depending on the price you negotiate with the customer, you can earn over that amount.

The automobile sales industry has changed in recent decades. Car buyers are much more informed since they can conduct their own research with books, through the internet and with magazines like Motor Trend and Consumer Reports. For a long time, car salespeople had a reputation for being pushy and not necessarily honest; that's no longer the case. Nor is it unusual to see women on the sales floor, although a gender gap still exists. As more women make their own decisions about purchasing cars, opportunities should increase.

Most dealerships have a probationary period after training is complete. The field is competitive, and those who struggle generally leave car sales within six months to a year.

Years of Experience

How much you make in car sales depends more on your abilities than strictly on the number of years in the business. Obviously, the longer you work in the field, the more opportunities you have to increase your knowledge and hone your presentation skills. The country's top sales people sell close to 1000 cars a year; the average is closer to 125. Salary information according to years of experience reflects annual base pay only; commissions and bonuses vary.

  • Less than one year of experience: $18,537
  • 1 to 3 years of experience: $19,995
  • 4 to 6 years of experience: $20,220
  • 7 to 9 years of experience: $21,933
  • 10 to 14 years of experience: $23,073
  • 15+ years of experience: $24,706

Job Growth Trend

Job growth for all retail sales people is projected at 7 percent over the next decade, which is average when compared to all jobs. Success as a car saleswoman could lead to a position as a sales manager for a dealership.