The term car salesman was used predominately in the decades before women entered the workforce in significant numbers. But the term has become outmoded in the 21st century -- as many more females sell cars -- and has been replaced with "salesperson." Your job as a car salesperson is to meet with people who visit your dealership and help them find automobiles that meet their needs and budgets. In return, you can expect to earn a salary above $60,000 annually, according to the jobsite Indeed.
Salary and Qualifications
The average annual salary for car salespersons was $65,000 in 2013, according to the jobsite Indeed. In this job, you may also earn commissions on top of your base salary if you meet specific sales quotas. The minimum qualification for becoming a car salesperson is a high school diploma. However, many employers prefer hiring applicants who have taken college courses in finance, marketing, sales or public speaking, according to the BLS. Some may even prefer that you have a bachelor's degree in business or marketing. Most of your training as a car salesperson will be conducted on the job. Other essential requirements for this job include persistence, stamina and communication, as well as effective customer service, negotiating and closing skills.
Salary by Region
In 2013, average salaries of car salespersons varied significantly in most U.S. regions. In the South region, they earned the highest salaries of $76,000 in Washington, D.C., and the lowest of $55,000 in Louisiana, according to Indeed. Those in the West made $45,000 and $71,000 in Hawaii and California, respectively. If you worked as car salesman in the Northeast, you'd earn $56,000 and $79,000, respectively, in Maine or New York. In the Midwest, you'd earn the most in Illinois and least in South Dakota -- $70,000 and $50,000, respectively.
Your success as a car salesperson is contingent on how hard you work to learn the business, find prospects -- or customers -- and hone your selling skills. For example, if you earn a commission in addition to your salary, you may sell more cars if you have more prospects. Your geographic area is also a factor. Car salespersons usually have higher base salaries in New York and Washington, D.C., because living costs are higher in those areas. For example, if you earned $65,000 in Des Moines, Iowa, you'd need to make $155,942 in New York City to maintain the same living standard, according to CNN Money's "Cost of Living" calculator. In Washington, D.C., you'd have to earn $102,132 for the same reason.
The BLS projects a 17 percent increase in jobs for retail sales workers, including car salespersons, between 2010 and 2020, which is statistically about average compared to the national average of 14 percent for all jobs. You may find more available car salesperson jobs if the economy continues improving, as people have more disposable income in booming economies. Population increases should also spur job growth for car salespersons. You may also find jobs plentiful because of the traditional high turnover rate in the industry.
2016 Salary Information for Retail Sales Workers
Retail sales workers earned a median annual salary of $23,040 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, retail sales workers earned a 25th percentile salary of $19,570, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $30,020, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 4,854,400 people were employed in the U.S. as retail sales workers.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Retail Sales Workers - Job Outlook
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2012: Retail Salespersons
- The Princeton Review: Career: Auto Salesperson
- CNN Money: Cost of Living: How Far Will My Salary Go in Another City?
- Indeed: Car Salesman Salary
- Indeed: Car Salesman Salary in Maine, and New York
- Indeed: Car Salesman Salary in Hawaii, and California
- Indeed: Car Salesman Salary in Louisiana, and Washington, DC
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Retail Sales Workers
- Career Trend: Retail Sales Workers