Occupation Profile for Sales Managers

Direct the actual distribution or movement of a product or service to the customer. Coordinate sales distribution by establishing sales territories, quotas, and goals and establish training programs for sales representatives. Analyze sales statistics gathered by staff to determine sales potential and inventory requirements and monitor the preferences of customers.


Significant Points

  • Keen competition is expected for these highly coveted jobs.
  • College graduates with related experience, a high level of creativity, strong communication skills, and computer skills should have the best job opportunities.
  • High earnings, substantial travel, and long hours, including evenings and weekends, are common.
  • Because of the importance and high visibility of their jobs, these managers often are prime candidates for advancement to the highest ranks.


$91,560.00 Median Annual Wage 10,000 Average Job Openings Per Year
2.7 Average Unemployment Percentage 9.2 Percentage That Completed High School
318,000 Employment Numbers in 2006 22.1 Percentage That Had Some College
351,000 Employment Numbers in 2016 (est.) 68.7 Percentage That Went Beyond College Degree

Sample Job Titles
Auto Dealer
Auto Dealer (Automobile Dealer)
Business Developer
Business Development Director
Business Development Executive
Business Development Officer
Business Development Specialist
Car Dealer
Channel Manager
Commercial Director
Contracts Specialist
Dealership Manager
Department Store Manager
Director of Business Development
Director of Sales
Director of Sales and Marketing
Director of Sales Marketing
District Manager
District Sales Manager
Division Head
Division Manager
E-Commerce Director
Export Manager
Field Representative
General Manager
Global Account Manager (GAM)
Hotel Sales Manager
Import Export Manager
Importer Exporter
Inside Sales Manager
International Trade Specialist
Manager, Utility Sales and Service
Marketing Sales Supervisor
Product Distribution Specialist
Professional Equipment Sales and Service Manager
Regional Manager
Regional Sales Manager
Retail Chain Store Area Supervisor
Retail District Manager
Sales Account Manager
Sales Administrator
Sales and Marketing Manager
Sales and Marketing Vice President
Sales Coordinator
Sales Director
Sales Manager
Sales Officer
Sales Promotion Manager
Sales Representative
Sales Supervisor
Sales Vice President
Store Manager
Territory Sales Manager
Vehicle Leasing and Rental Manager
Zone Manager

  • Many of these occupations involve coordinating, supervising, managing, or training others. Examples include accountants, human resource managers, computer programmers, teachers, chemists, and police detectives.
  • Most of these occupations require a four - year bachelor's degree, but some do not.
  • A minimum of two to four years of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is needed for these occupations. For example, an accountant must complete four years of college and work for several years in accounting to be considered qualified.
  • Employees in these occupations usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

A wide range of educational backgrounds is suitable for entry into advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales managerial jobs, but many employers prefer those with experience in related occupations.

Education and training. For marketing, sales, and promotions management positions, some employers prefer a bachelor’s or master’s degree in business administration with an emphasis on marketing. Courses in business law, management, economics, accounting, finance, mathematics, and statistics are advantageous. Additionally, the completion of an internship while the candidate is in school is highly recommended. In highly technical industries, such as computer and electronics manufacturing, a bachelor’s degree in engineering or science, combined with a master’s degree in business administration, is preferred.

For advertising management positions, some employers prefer a bachelor’s degree in advertising or journalism. A course of study should include, for example, marketing, consumer behavior, market research, sales, communication methods and technology, and visual arts, and art history and photography.

For public relations management positions, some employers prefer a bachelor’s or master’s degree in public relations or journalism. The applicant’s curriculum should include courses in advertising, business administration, public affairs, public speaking, political science, and creative and technical writing.

Most advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales management positions are filled by promoting experienced staff or related professional personnel. For example, many managers are former sales representatives, purchasing agents, buyers, or product, advertising, promotions, or public relations specialists. In small firms, where the number of positions is limited, advancement to a management position usually comes slowly. In large firms, promotion may occur more quickly.

Other qualifications. Familiarity with word-processing and database applications is important for most positions. Computer skills are vital because marketing, product promotion, and advertising on the Internet are increasingly common. Also, the ability to communicate in a foreign language may open up employment opportunities in many rapidly growing areas around the country, especially cities with large Spanish-speaking populations.

Persons interested in becoming advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales managers should be mature, creative, highly motivated, resistant to stress, flexible, and decisive. The ability to communicate persuasively, both orally and in writing, with other managers, staff, and the public is vital. These managers also need tact, good judgment, and exceptional ability to establish and maintain effective personal relationships with supervisory and professional staff members and client firms.

Certification and advancement. Some associations offer certification programs for these managers. Certification—an indication of competence and achievement—is particularly important in a competitive job market. While relatively few advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales managers currently are certified, the number of managers who seek certification is expected to grow. Today, there are numerous management certification programs based on education and job performance. In addition, The Public Relations Society of America offers a certification program for public relations practitioners based on years of experience and performance on an examination.

Although experience, ability, and leadership are emphasized for promotion, advancement can be accelerated by participation in management training programs conducted by larger firms. Many firms also provide their employees with continuing education opportunities—either in-house or at local colleges and universities—and encourage employee participation in seminars and conferences, often held by professional societies. In collaboration with colleges and universities, numerous marketing and related associations sponsor national or local management training programs. Course subjects include brand and product management, international marketing, sales management evaluation, telemarketing and direct sales, interactive marketing, promotion, marketing communication, market research, organizational communication, and data-processing systems procedures and management. Many firms pay all or part of the cost for employees who successfully complete courses.

Because of the importance and high visibility of their jobs, advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales managers often are prime candidates for advancement to the highest ranks. Well-trained, experienced, and successful managers may be promoted to higher positions in their own or another firm; some become top executives. Managers with extensive experience and sufficient capital may open their own businesses.

Nature of Work

Advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales managers coordinate their companies’ market research, marketing strategy, sales, advertising, promotion, pricing, product development, and public relations activities. In small firms, the owner or chief executive officer might assume all advertising, promotions, marketing, sales, and public relations responsibilities. In large firms, which may offer numerous products and services nationally or even worldwide, an executive vice president directs overall advertising, marketing, promotions, sales, and public relations policies. (Executive vice presidents are included in the Handbook statement on top executives.)

Advertising managers. Advertising managers oversee advertising and promotion staffs, which usually are small, except in the largest firms. In a small firm, managers may serve as liaisons between the firm and the advertising or promotion agency to which many advertising or promotional functions are contracted out. In larger firms, advertising managers oversee in-house account, creative, and media services departments. The account executive manages the account services department, assesses the need for advertising and, in advertising agencies, maintains the accounts of clients. The creative services department develops the subject matter and presentation of advertising. The creative director oversees the copy chief, art director, and associated staff. The media director oversees planning groups that select the communication media—for example, radio, television, newspapers, magazines, the Internet, or outdoor signs—to disseminate the advertising.

Marketing managers. Marketing managers develop the firm’s marketing strategy in detail. With the help of subordinates, including product development managers and market research managers, they estimate the demand for products and services offered by the firm and its competitors. In addition, they identify potential markets—for example, business firms, wholesalers, retailers, government, or the general public. Marketing managers develop pricing strategy to help firms maximize profits and market share while ensuring that the firm’s customers are satisfied. In collaboration with sales, product development, and other managers, they monitor trends that indicate the need for new products and services, and they oversee product development. Marketing managers work with advertising and promotion managers to promote the firm’s products and services and to attract potential users.

Promotions managers. Promotions managers supervise staffs of promotions specialists. These managers direct promotions programs that combine advertising with purchase incentives to increase sales. In an effort to establish closer contact with purchasers—dealers, distributors, or consumers—promotions programs may use direct mail, telemarketing, television or radio advertising, catalogs, exhibits, inserts in newspapers, Internet advertisements or Web sites, in-store displays or product endorsements, and special events. Purchasing incentives may include discounts, samples, gifts, rebates, coupons, sweepstakes, and contests.

Public relations managers. Public relations managers supervise public relations specialists. (See the Handbook statement on public relations specialists.) These managers direct publicity programs to a targeted audience. They often specialize in a specific area, such as crisis management, or in a specific industry, such as health care. They use every available communication medium to maintain the support of the specific group upon whom their organization’s success depends, such as consumers, stockholders, or the general public. For example, public relations managers may clarify or justify the firm’s point of view on health or environmental issues to community or special-interest groups.

Public relations managers also evaluate advertising and promotions programs for compatibility with public relations efforts and serve as the eyes and ears of top management. They observe social, economic, and political trends that might ultimately affect the firm, and they make recommendations to enhance the firm’s image on the basis of those trends.

Public relations managers may confer with labor relations managers to produce internal company communications—such as newsletters about employee-management relations—and with financial managers to produce company reports. They assist company executives in drafting speeches, arranging interviews, and maintaining other forms of public contact; oversee company archives; and respond to requests for information. In addition, some of these managers handle special events, such as the sponsorship of races, parties introducing new products, or other activities that the firm supports in order to gain public attention through the press without advertising directly.

Sales managers. Sales managers direct the firm’s sales program. They assign sales territories, set goals, and establish training programs for the sales representatives. (See the Handbook statement on sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing). Sales managers advise the sales representatives on ways to improve their sales performance. In large, multi-product firms, they oversee regional and local sales managers and their staffs. Sales managers maintain contact with dealers and distributors. They analyze sales statistics gathered by their staffs to determine sales potential and inventory requirements and to monitor customers’ preferences. Such information is vital in the development of products and the maximization of profits.

Work environment. Advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales managers work in offices close to those of top managers. Working under pressure is unavoidable when schedules change and problems arise, but deadlines and goals must still be met.

Substantial travel may be involved. For example, attendance at meetings sponsored by associations or industries often is mandatory. Sales managers travel to national, regional, and local offices and to the offices of various dealers and distributors. Advertising and promotions managers may travel to meet with clients or representatives of communications media. At times, public relations managers travel to meet with special-interest groups or government officials. Job transfers between headquarters and regional offices are common, particularly among sales managers.

Long hours, including evenings and weekends are common. In 2006, about two-thirds of advertising, marketing, and public relations managers worked more than 40 hours a week.

Related Occupations

Sources: Career Guide to Industries (CGI), Occupational Information Network (O*Net), Occupation Outlook Handbook (OOH)

Median annual earnings in May 2006 were $73,060 for advertising and promotions managers, $98,720 for marketing managers, $91,560 for sales managers, and $82,180 for public relations managers.

Median annual earnings of wage and salary advertising and promotions managers in May 2006 in the advertising and related services industry were $97,540.

Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of marketing managers were:

Computer systems design and related services $119,540
Management of companies and enterprises 103,070
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 100,200
Architectural, engineering, and related services 92,480
Depository credit intermediation 91,420

Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of sales managers were:

Professional and commercial equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers $112,810
Wholesale electronic markets and agents and brokers 107,420
Automobile dealers 101,110
Management of companies and enterprises 98,240
Machinery, equipment, and supplies merchant wholesalers 93,450

Salary levels vary substantially, depending upon the level of managerial responsibility, length of service, education, size of firm, location, and industry. For example, manufacturing firms usually pay these managers higher salaries than nonmanufacturing firms. For sales managers, the size of their sales territory is another important determinant of salary. Many managers earn bonuses equal to 10 percent or more of their salaries.

According to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, starting salaries for marketing majors graduating in 2007 averaged $40,161 and those for advertising majors averaged $33,831.

For the latest wage information:

The above wage data are from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey program, unless otherwise noted. For the latest National, State, and local earnings data, visit the following pages:

  • Advertising and promotions managers
  • Marketing managers
  • Sales managers
  • Public relations managers
  • Job Outlook

    Average job growth is projected, but keen competition is expected for these highly coveted jobs.

    Employment change. Employment of advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales managers is expected to increase by 12 percent through 2016—about as fast as the average for all occupations. Job growth will be spurred by intense domestic and global competition in products and services offered to consumers and increasing activity in television, radio, and outdoor advertising.

    Projected employment growth varies by industry. For example, employment is projected to grow much faster than average in scientific, professional, and related services—such as computer systems design and related services, and advertising and related services—as businesses increasingly hire contractors for these services instead of additional full-time staff. By contrast, a decline in employment is expected in many manufacturing industries.

    Job prospects. Advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales manager jobs are highly coveted and will be sought by other managers or highly experienced professionals, resulting in keen competition. College graduates with related experience, a high level of creativity, and strong communication skills should have the best job opportunities. In particular, employers will seek those who have the computer skills to conduct advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales activities on the Internet.


    Advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales managers held about 583,000 jobs in 2006. The following tabulation shows the distribution of jobs by occupational specialty:

    Sales managers 318,000
    Marketing managers 167,000
    Public relations managers 50,000
    Advertising and promotions managers 47,000

    These managers were found in virtually every industry. Sales managers held more than half of the jobs; most were employed in wholesale trade, retail trade, manufacturing, and finance and insurance industries. Marketing managers held more than a fourth of the jobs; the professional, scientific, and technical services, and the finance and insurance industries employed almost one-third of marketing managers. About one-fourth of advertising and promotions managers worked in the professional, scientific, and technical services industries and the wholesale trade. Most public relations managers were employed in service-providing industries, such as professional, scientific, and technical services; educational services, public and private; finance and insurance; and health care and social assistance.

    • Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
    • Engineering and Technology — Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
    • Sales and Marketing — Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.
    • Medicine and Dentistry — Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
    • Physics — Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
    • Equipment Maintenance — Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
    • Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
    • Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
    • Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
    • Troubleshooting — Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
    • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
    • Stamina — The ability to exert yourself physically over long periods of time without getting winded or out of breath.
    • Explosive Strength — The ability to use short bursts of muscle force to propel oneself (as in jumping or sprinting), or to throw an object.
    • Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
    • Hearing Sensitivity — The ability to detect or tell the differences between sounds that vary in pitch and loudness.
    • Supplemental — Direct, coordinate, and review activities in sales and service accounting and recordkeeping, and in receiving and shipping operations.
    • Core — Plan and direct staffing, training, and performance evaluations to develop and control sales and service programs.
    • Supplemental — Visit franchised dealers to stimulate interest in establishment or expansion of leasing programs.
    • Core — Confer or consult with department heads to plan advertising services and to secure information on equipment and customer specifications.
    • Supplemental — Advise dealers and distributors on policies and operating procedures to ensure functional effectiveness of business.
    • Monitoring and Controlling Resources — Monitoring and controlling resources and overseeing the spending of money.
    • Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
    • Assisting and Caring for Others — Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
    • Repairing and Maintaining Electronic Equipment — Servicing, repairing, calibrating, regulating, fine-tuning, or testing machines, devices, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of electrical or electronic (not mechanical) principles.
    • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
    Related College Curriculum
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