Want a Sales Job With No Degree? Here’s How to Get It.

Many professions require that you have a degree even at the entry level but you can get a sales job with just a GED and a few skills. In fact, because the industry is evolving so fast, a standard degree may no longer be necessary for all roles. In this step-by-step guide, we will show you how to land a job in sales without getting a bachelor’s or even an associate’s degree.

Key Takeaways

Many professions require that you have a degree even at the entry level but you can get a sales job with just a GED and a few skills. In fact, because the industry is evolving so fast, a standard degree may no longer be necessary for all roles. In this step-by-step guide, we will show you how to land a job in sales without getting a bachelor’s or even an associate’s degree.

Many job seekers are attracted by the paychecks from a sales job but they get discouraged by the fact that they don’t have a relevant marketing degree. There's good news! To begin a career in sales, you don't need any prior experience. 

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Do you need a degree for sales?

All you need to do to land a sales job is to put in some hard work and be willing to learn on the job. It is a field that values go-getters and you can grow as you gain experience. 

You simply must be willing to put in the effort demanded of newcomers, then slowly add certifications to your resume as you gain experience, and grow higher up the career ladder. 

Just follow this guide we have put together for you. It is designed especially for people who have no degree. But first, let’s quickly understand what a sales job entails.

What does it mean to work in sales?

Every activity involved in selling a product or service to a consumer or business is referred to as sales. Many people believe that salesmen only work in retail, yet there are many non-retail sales personnel and roles available.

For people without a degree, this vast employment field offers a variety of professional prospects with a greater starting wage compared to other job categories.

At a basic level, a sales position entails prospecting, building strong client connections, and providing solutions. Being good at sales also means you need to make sure your customers are always satisfied and as a result, salespeople concentrate on resolving customer issues and meeting their needs.

All of these efforts pay off in the form of a sale, satisfied customers, and revenue.

How much does a sales job pay?

In sales, your pay is determined by the type of sales position you take. While the highest-paying sales positions demand extensive sales expertise and a high level of education, the starting level positions are not demanding and very flexible.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), sales agents earn an average yearly pay of $65,420 while sales managers, on the other hand, earn an average yearly compensation of $132,290.

Job outlook for sales positions

From 2020 to 2030, positions in sales are expected to grow at a rate of 7% annually, which is approximately average for all occupations.

Over the next ten years, an average of 37,000 sales manager openings are expected. Many of those positions are likely to arise as a result of the need to replace people who change occupations or leave the workforce for other reasons, such as retirement.

Sales Manager
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Our failsafe strategy to land a sales job without any degree

While most professional careers necessitate a four-year degree in a specific field, many sales positions do not. 

But there is a method to putting your foot in the door when it comes to getting a sales job. If you are wondering how to get into sales, then here is our tried and tested strategy.

1. Start with jobs that are very easy to get into

Some sales jobs have prerequisites attached to them. For example, a sales job with a pharmaceutical company will normally require you to have a four-year degree. 

Instead, focus on jobs that have no or very few pre-requisites like a retail sales job. The retail industry usually does not require salespeople to have a college diploma. Retail sales positions are frequently entry-level positions where persons just starting out in sales learn the ropes.

2. Pick an industry to specialize in

As you start gaining some experience you need to start thinking about one specific industry that you want to specialize in. This will help you gain focused credentials to move higher up the career ladder where the bigger paychecks are.

Keep in mind that you should pick an industry that you have some interest in… for example if you are interested in computers start building some credentials towards it. 

Why this is important is because as you build your career, you want to be doing something that you are passionate about. It will help you keep motivated as you face the challenges of meeting sales targets.

3. Completing some essential short certifications is a smart idea.

As mentioned earlier, unless you want to be stuck at the lower levels of sales you need to do something to stand out from the other candidates. A great way to do this is to get some short certificate courses from a community college.

Community colleges are a great option because they are subsidized by the government and yet offer quality education. The short courses range anywhere from a  few weeks to a few months but they add great value to your resume.

Pro Tip: Visit Unmudl for a list of courses that will help you stand out at job interviews even without a degree.

4. Learn on the job

On-the-job training is standard in most sales positions, and it's critical if you want to advance your career. You should take advantage of the many training opportunities that are offered to new entrants at most sales positions.

These programs guarantee that you are improving your abilities to carry out your responsibilities efficiently. With an entry-level job, you won't have to worry about not having the necessary knowledge or abilities before you start because you'll almost certainly be given full training.

5. Seriously consider advancing your education

If you want to work in sales, in the long run, you'll need to continue your schooling to qualify for senior sales leadership roles. To land high-paying sales jobs, you'll need a bachelor's or master's degree in a relevant discipline. 

Again, the easiest way to get the ball rolling is to get an associate’s degree from a community college. Here is a great article on how to apply to a community college and why you should.

6. Go for that high-paying sales job!

You can apply for high-paying sales positions now that you've obtained sales experience and gotten some certifications and perhaps even a degree under your belt. 

You can hunt for high-paying opportunities on job boards like Indeed, LinkedIn, or Glassdoor. You can also check out popular company websites in your area to see if any openings exist.

Sales Managers
Photo by pressfoto from Freepik

What skills do you need to land a sales job?

There are certain skills that businesses look for when employing people who don't have a four-year degree in sales or marketing. The good news is that there are numerous opportunities for you to learn and acquire these skills without committing to a degree program 

Many of these skills may be learned at a community college and practiced independently, and your previous knowledge in other areas may be more useful than you believe.

Note: This scenario also applies if you feel you are stuck at a job that is a dead-end for you. Many people use the short courses at community colleges to change careers.

1. Writing and communication

Marketers must be able to write and communicate effectively. While this may seem obvious, expertise in this core skill can make someone a leader in the field. 

If you’re hoping to work in sales you will need writing and communication skills that convince people to pick your brand over the competitors. That of course is no easy task and requires training.

Even non-writing roles require effective communication. Client calls and presentations are a part of agency work, especially as remote work becomes more common. You’ll need to succinctly and effectively discuss the work you’re doing and the outcomes it’s created for the client. 

Marketers also commonly have to work on projects with writers, and being able to evaluate and discuss writing with them will make you a more effective marketer and a more valuable teammate.

Now if you don’t have a degree, here is a great certificate course on Business and Professional Communication that will make you immediately stand out from other applicants at a job interview. After the course, you will be able to:

  • Describe effective methods for communicating purposefully across various media.
  • Compare and contrast effective and noneffective communication strategies.
  • Present ideas effectively in a medium appropriate for the task and purpose.
  • Describe the principles of communication and the elements of the communication process.
  • Explain the role of culture, diversity, and global engagement in business conducts.

2. Customer services

Customer service and communication abilities go hand in hand. Customer service abilities, however, must convey more than just a message. 

You must recognize the client's requirements and make every effort to meet them. This skill recognizes that each customer is unique and requires customized treatment.

This customer service course will help you grasp the intricate strategies required to deal with customers. After the course, you will be able to:

  • Discover the secrets behind true service excellence and build a competitive edge over rival candidates 

3. Critical thinking

Traditional rules and playbooks have been thrown out the window as a result of the pandemic, which has hastened changes already underway in sales and marketing. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the world of online sales.

For building campaigns that respond to buyer behaviors and decision making, a combination of left- and right-brain thinking, an awareness of marketing "rules," and the ability to know when to break them are required. 

Sales and marketing teams can plan deliverables and measure results by critically examining marketing campaigns and outcomes to see if they are reaching campaign goals. 

As you try to get into the industry, critical thinking will be crucial and this course is exactly what you need. After the course you will be able to:

  • Describe factors affecting today’s businesses.
  • Explain options for starting and growing a business.
  • Describe methods for managing quality and competitiveness.
  • Examine human resources as a source of competitive advantage.
  • Explain the role of developing relationships as a function of marketing.
  • Explore the role of finance in meeting organizational goals.
  • Apply business concepts in meeting organizational goals.
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4. Commercial awareness

Which company sells the same product or service that yours does? What distinguishes your products or services from those available on the market? 

Understanding the market and the level of competition you're up against will assist you to present your items or services as superior.

This course on Applied Marketing Foundations will help you to do all this and more:

  • Explain the role of marketing in business plans.
  • Describe the consumer decision process.
  • Explain the purpose of segmenting, targeting, and position in marketing.
  • Describe methods for capturing and communicating value.
  • Apply marketing principles to create value.

5. Working in teams

Working in sales demands a high level of collaboration because you won't be able to do most tasks on your own. 

To guarantee that clients have a better experience, you will need to cooperate with your colleagues and relay consumer feedback to various teams or departments.

This short course costing only $37.50 on Creating Great Teamwork will help you with:

  • Team Norms and Expectations - Create behavior norms and expectations for working together as a team.
  • Creating a Strong Team Culture - Create a team culture that capitalizes on team member strengths.
  • Working with Others Within the Company - Identify actions the team can take to strengthen how they work with others within the company.
  • Project Teams Rely on Each Other - Encourage project teams and work teams to rely on each other’s skills, knowledge, and abilities.
  • Involving Others for Great Decisions - Involve the right people and gather the right information to make great decisions.

6. Data Analytics

Marketers with or without a degree who can evaluate data, provide thoughtful insights, and build a strategy around these findings can thrive in any firm. Data is critical to every decision salespeople make in today's marketing landscape. 

The amount of data accessible to marketing teams is astounding, and it may be daunting at times. People that can evaluate data, produce practical insights, and communicate what works and what doesn’t will be in high demand.

This course on Excel Essentials for Data Analysts will help you stand out amongst the crowd of applicants. After the course you will be able to:

  • Compile data or documentation.
  • Analyze data to inform operational decisions or activities.
  • Check data for recording errors.
  • Verify the accuracy of financial or transactional data.
  • Inspect condition or functioning of facilities or equipment.
  • Implement organizational processes or policy changes.
  • Implement transportation changes to reduce environmental impact.
Person Writing On Notebook
Photo by Lukas

Unmudl bonus tips

Below we have listed some tips that will really help you win at both the job application and interview stages. How to get a good sales job without a degree:

1. Focus on transferable skills

When you don't have a relevant college degree, you'll have to work extra hard to focus on your sales-related transferrable talents — those capabilities you've gained via other experiences that will help you succeed in a sales career (volunteering and extracurricular activities, for example).

Consider how to write a resume that highlights skills such as communication, public speaking, self-motivation, empathy, problem-solving, and planning, as well as specific examples of how you've used these abilities in the past. 

2. Make your resume shine

Your CV and LinkedIn profile should match your work history and highlight the abilities and knowledge that make you a good fit for the positions you're applying for. 

Revise your resume and build versions based on different skill sets based on the requirements of the job you are applying for (e.g., highlight your analytical skills for data-focused roles, your writing portfolio for content roles, etc.)

For any experience that you list, focus on results and how you achieved them. If you're new to marketing and haven't worked in the industry yet, you can stress the talents you've picked up outside the profession.

As an example, focus on the experience you've gained by running and improving your blog/ website or any leadership position at a school entity (e.g., writing and communication, leading teams, project management, data analysis, research. etc.)

Pro Tip: If you really want your resume to shine, here is a short course for only $60.64 that will make all the difference.

3. Read, read, read

Since you don’t have a degree you should become a habitual reader on the subject. Frequent sales/ marketing blogs, read about the companies that you are applying to and the products that they are selling, read about their competition.

There are many great sales-related podcasts, TEDTalks, and other online material that will turn you into a knowledgeable salesperson. When you apply this knowledge on the job, you will outshine peers making you a great asset to any company.

4. If you want to be a salesperson learn to talk like one

Being able to talk the talk is an important aspect of getting a job in sales; you'll need to know fundamental phrases like SQL (Sales Qualified Leads), sales funnels, AIDA, B2B, B2C, and so on, and be able to discuss sales in interviews and when networking.

All these terms are easily available by simply Googling for “sales terms and lingo”. Reading and researching current marketing best practices, as mentioned above, will also help you keep current on terminology and have meaningful interactions with people you meet during your job search. 

5. Networking is the name of the game

You need to cultivate relationships with the right people if you want to start a sales career. Not only will this provide you an advantage, but it will also demonstrate that you have a key selling skill: the ability to network. 

If you don't know anyone in the industry, start by visiting trade shows and career fairs, or reach out to potential contacts via LinkedIn to request informative interviews or even a job shadowing opportunity. 

If you can spend some time on the job with sales agents, you'll gain a better grasp of what the position entails, which can help you in interviews.

Some good-paying sales jobs

Here are some typical high-paying sales jobs without a degree and the job outlook for them. For a current and up-to-date projection, you should visit the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ website.

Table for high-paying sales jobs and Average salaries
Table for high-paying sales jobs and Average salaries

Final thoughts

Sales is a lucrative job market. Many entry-level sales positions don’t require you to have a degree. You can use these openings to get into the sales industry, earn a regular paycheck, and progress forward.

In this guide, we have listed all you need to do to get a foot in the industry and also what you need to do to progress further in it. Developing your career in sales, like any other industry, requires you to slowly collect relevant credentials in the form of acquiring new skills and enhancing old ones.

If you want to work in sales but don't have a four-year degree, the advice above can help you jump start your career!

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