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A Job Description of a Sales Associate

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

Sales associates are on the front line of a business. They serve as the face of the business when a customer enters the store, calls about services or communicates via online tools. The job description of a sales associate includes greeting customers, educating consumers about products and services, and promoting the business in a positive manner. Sales associates must know the importance of networking in order to build and maintain a client base.

Nature of Work

Sales associate jobs require employees to aggressively pursue new business. In retail establishments, sales associates are involved in marketing products and setting up displays. In corporate environments, sales associates may communicate with potential clients via online tools or telephone correspondence. The work is often fast-paced and demands that employees are flexible, friendly and assertive.

Job Duties

The job description of a sales associate revolves around promoting and selling products and services offered by the business. Oftentimes, sales associates are required to make cold calls on customers, e-mail special offers to potential clients and conduct face-to-face meetings and presentations to market the product line. Sales associates may also be required to attend trade shows to demonstrate products and services. In retail environments, sales associates monitor the sales floor and interact instantaneously with new customers entering the establishment. The job description of a sales associate may also require daily or monthly sales meetings and training sessions.


Entry-level and retail sales associate positions typically do not require post-secondary education or training, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). These positions often lead to advanced sales positions or management opportunities once a sales associate has gained more experience. Manufacturing and wholesale sales environments typically prefer that incoming sales associates possess a bachelor’s degree in marketing, business or a field related to the company’s product line. Most employers prefer that candidates have strong communication skills.


The BLS reports that sales associates in retail environments earned an average of $9.86 per hour in 2008, including commission. Wholesale and manufacturing companies paid out significantly higher wages at an annual median of $51,330 in nontechnical industries and $70,200 annually in technical and scientific industries. Salaries vary based on a company’s size, the applicant’s experience and the geographical location.

Career Prospects

The sales industry is dependent upon economic trends and consumer buying. From 2008 to 2018, the BLS predicts an 8 percent growth in sales associate jobs within retail, although many of these positions are typically seasonal, part time or temporary. The wholesale and manufacturing industry is expected to experience a 7 percent growth in sales associate jobs from 2008 to 2018, according to the BLS. Candidates with post-secondary education and previous sales experience will have a competitive edge for employment.

2016 Salary Information for Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives

Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives earned a median annual salary of $61,270 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives earned a 25th percentile salary of $42,360, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $89,010, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 1,813,500 people were employed in the U.S. as wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives.