Salesmen hawking new and used cars at dealerships fall into the Bureau of Labor Statistics' category of retail sales workers, because their jobs involve selling from a business directly to consumers -- that is, car owners and drivers -- rather than from a manufacturer to a distributor. What car salesmen and other dealership sales personnel earn depends in part upon the products they pitch.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, automobile dealerships employed 233,480 salespeople as of May 2011. That figure amounted to 61 percent of all sales workers at these dealerships. These salesmen and -women earned an average annual wage of $42,150, or $20.27 an hour. The best-paid 25 percent could make $54,010 or more, with the top 10 percent earning $74,230 or more. On the other hand, the lowest-paid 25 percent earned $24,540 or less, with the bottom 10 percent making $18,530 or less.
One factor in how much a car salesman made was whether he sold new or used cars. While the salary figures reported by Simply Hired were much higher than those reported by the BLS, the website's average salary listing for new car salesmen was nearly three times that of used car salesmen. Part of the difference may be attributable to commission work, since new cars are generally more expensive than used cars -- often quite a bit more.
Some auto dealership salesmen specialize in selling parts for cars rather than cars themselves. The 50,270 parts salespeople were the second-largest number of sales workers at car dealers, according to the BLS, and averaged $37,930 a year, or $18.24 an hour. The best-paid 10 percent could earn $58,570 or more, while the lowest-paid 10 percent could earn $21,030 or less.
Auto dealers also employed 39,480 sales supervisors, according to the BLS, the third-largest number of sales personnel in the industry. These supervisors averaged $71,670 a year, or $34.45 an hour. The best-paid 10 percent could earn six figures, at $121,640 or more, while the lowest-paid 10 percent made $31,360 or less.