Salaries for salespeople vary widely depending on the pay structure and what's being sold. Salaries between individuals in commission-based sales can vary even more. The difference between the top 10 percent of earners in commission-based sales can be as much as five times greater than the bottom 10 percent. Many consider retail sales to be the lowest paying positions, however a retail worker without commission who works a few hours overtime each week can earn more than the bottom 10 percent in otherwise high-paying fields like insurance and advertising sales.

Retail Sales:

Most retail sales positions involve helping customers with purchases and processing payments. Although many of these positions pay minimum wage, the average is somewhat higher, estimated at $10 per hour, or $20,990 per year by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of 2010. Positions requiring more training such as parts and equipment sales paid an average of $13.88 per hour. With nearly 4.5 million positions held in 2010, high employee turnover and an expected average growth rate of 17 percent, it's expected this sector will have many openings for the next 10 years.

Real Estate:

Like many professional sales positions, real estate brokers and agents rely on commission for much or all of their wages. Brokers are also licensed to own their own businesses, while agents work for brokers. In 2010, real estate sales agents made an average of $40,030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, whereas brokers earned an average of $54,910. About 57 percent of real estate sales people are self-employed. Earnings fluctuate with the real estate market and, like most commission-based positions, depend on the individual's ability, personal drive and motivation. The bottom 10 percent of earners made less than $31,330 in 2010, while the top 10 percent made more than $166,400.


Advertising sales agents sell advertising space and the ads for newspapers, magazines, television, radio stations or online. It is usually a commission-based position. Advertising salespeople earned an average of $45,350 in 2010. The bottom 10 percent earned less than $22,780 and the top 10 percent earned more than $96,040 that year. Overall, this sector has an average growth rate to 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Increases in Internet and television advertising positions should be balanced out by declines in print advertising.


Insurance sales agents sell insurance on behalf of companies to new clients. In 2010, these positions averaged an income of $46,770. With a growth rate of 22 percent anticipated to 2020, insurance sales positions are increasing at nearly twice the rate of other sales jobs. Pay can vary widely between individuals. While the top 10 percent earned more than $115,340, the bottom 10 percent earned less than $25,940 in 2010.

Financial Services:

Salespeople working in the financial services sector connect buyers and sellers in financial markets, including securities, stocks, bonds and mutual funds. The average salary in 2010 was $70,190, as estimated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The position usually pays a base salary with commissions and bonuses, making long hours a part of the job for those who want to earn above-average salaries. Top performers earned more than $166,400 in 2010, while the lowest earned made below $31,330.

Business-to-Business Sales:

Business-to-Business sales positions, such as wholesale and manufacturing sales, paid an average of $56,620 in 2010. Top positions paid more than $144,420, while the lowest paying positions were below $36,740. A trend expected to rise in this industry are positions at independent agencies, which represent several manufacturers at once, rather than sales positions for a single manufacturer.

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