Sales manager is a high-paying job role that brings together excellence in sales and great leadership and organizational skills. While there are several sales jobs you could get with no college education or only an associate’s-level degree, sales manager generally is not one of them. The majority of sales managers have at least a bachelor’s degree, but some earn a graduate degree. In addition to your degree, you will need at least one to five years of work experience in a sales occupation before you are ready to become a sales manager.

The Responsibilities of a Sales Manager

While sales representatives have one main goal – to sell their organization’s products or services – sales managers have many more responsibilities behind the scenes of the sales floor. They determine the direction of the company’s sales efforts, including the use of marketing and direct sales strategies and the development of any promotions, sales or discounts that drive sales.

What Degree Do Sales Managers Have?

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Sales managers set performance goals based on their careful analyses of past sales data, projected market data and the profitability of products or services. It’s important for sales managers to establish realistic goals and to work with their team to develop strategies for reaching those goals. As a supervisory role, sales manager involves hiring, training and evaluating the performance of sales representatives.

Sales manager is a lucrative job, with a median salary of $124,220, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Sales managers working in the finance and insurance industry earn the most, with a median wage of $153,940.

Bachelor’s Degree Options for Sales Managers

It is possible to become a sales manager with only a high school education, but your chance of advancing into this competitive role without going to college is small. About 65 percent of sales managers report having a bachelor’s degree, while 13 percent have an associate’s degree. A bachelor’s degree is your best option to prepare for this career path.

While you don’t necessarily need a specific college major to become a sales manager, a degree in a business discipline is often recommended. Students who aspire to this occupation should take classes in subjects like management, marketing, finance, accounting, business law, economics, math and statistics, according to the BLS. Any program of study in business is likely to incorporate this coursework into its core business curriculum.

A Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in marketing is a particularly popular choice for sales managers. Marketing programs, which cover the full activities and processes involved in promoting a product, service or brand, often include coursework that is beneficial to workers in sales. Marketing majors often take classes in consumer and buyer behavior, marketing research, marketing management, customer data analytics, direct marketing, digital marketing, professional selling and even sales management. Management is another strong degree option. In a bachelor’s degree program in business management, students take classes in the principles of management, human resources management, organizational behavior and strategic business management.

While many BBA programs encourage students to choose a specialization or concentration, it’s also possible to choose a general business concentration. Students majoring in general business take upper-level classes in a breadth of business disciplines.

Graduate Degrees for Aspiring Sales Managers

For many management roles, a graduate degree is beneficial, even if it’s not required. Sales managers who hold go to graduate school often choose a traditional Master of Business Administration (MBA) program or a specialized Master of Science in Management program.

The MBA degree is the graduate version of the BBA degree and includes studies in various aspects of the business field, along with specialization courses. An MBA program with a concentration in business development and sales management is an excellent option that helps students learn advanced sales techniques, strategic planning and development for sales goals and marketing and sales analysis. Management program options might include a Master of Science in Leadership program. Students in a graduate leadership program might take classes in ethical leadership, global leadership, leadership communication, and the development of organizational leadership as well as their own leadership capability.

Graduate school doesn’t always mean a master’s degree. Nine percent of sales managers report having a post-baccalaureate certificate. Graduate certificates in sales management may require as few as four courses, allowing them to be completed quickly.

Additional Resources

Do I Need a Graduate Degree to Become a Manager?

What Are the Highest-Paying Jobs in Business Management?

What Degree Do People Who Work in Sales Have?