Sales managers can work in a wide variety of fields, from retail to health care to technology. They oversee a team of sales agents and are responsible for meeting profit goals, ensuring quality customer service and establishing long-term customer relationships. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says sales managers must complete at least a bachelor's degree, which takes about four years to complete, but that many years of work experience are also required.
Aspiring sales managers can major in a number of fields for their bachelor's degree, including business administration, accounting, marketing, finance, economics, mathematics, advertising or public relations. The courses that students take are more important than the specific major. Courses in management, human resources and business administration are highly recommended. Courses in finances, accounting and mathematics are useful for managing the numbers side of the job, including sales, profits, payroll and taxes. Classes in business law, technology and marketing can help prospective sales managers develop additional skills that will helpful.
An internship is not a required part of a bachelor's degree, but U.S. News & World Report says that completing an internship as an undergraduate is highly recommended for aspiring sales managers. Internships can take place in retail or business establishments. Students should strive to find positions in sales or working alongside sales managers. The key is to either gain experience in sales or to learn valuable lessons by shadowing a mentor in a management position. Internships can last for a semester or a whole academic year.
Advanced Degrees and Specialization
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says some sales managers have a master's degree, which may make them more competitive for jobs or open up opportunities at more companies. Education Portal says that those who complete a bachelor's degree may consider specializing in a field. For example, those who wish to become sales managers in the technology sector may consider majoring in technology instead of one of the traditional degrees, like business. Students may also specialize by completing a minor in their chosen field.
In addition to education, work experience is a key factor to getting a job as a sales manager. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says sales managers typically need about one to five years of experience. Aspiring sales managers may have experience working as sales agents, or they may have worked as managers in another field. Internships or work study programs may count toward this work experience, depending on the level of responsibility held or the size of the company.
Maria Magher has been working as a professional writer since 2001. She has worked as an ESL teacher, a freshman composition teacher and an education reporter, writing for regional newspapers and online publications. She has written about parenting for Pampers and other websites. She has a Master's degree in English and creative writing.