Sales Engineers

What Sales Engineers Do

Sales engineers sell complex scientific and technological products or services to businesses.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoNkYHBgfHo

Work Environment

Sales engineers often work under stressful conditions because their income and job security depend on commission from successfully completing sales. Some sales engineers may work additional and irregular hours to meet sales goals and client needs.

How to Become a Sales Engineer

Sales engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in engineering or a related field. Successful sales engineers combine technical knowledge of the products or services they are selling with strong interpersonal skills.

Pay

The median annual wage for sales engineers was $103,900 in May 2019.

Job Outlook

Employment of sales engineers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. As a wider range of technologically sophisticated products comes on the market, sales engineers will be in demand to sell these products and services related to these products.

Sales engineers sell complex scientific and technological products or services to businesses. They must have extensive knowledge of the products’ parts and functions and must understand the scientific processes that make these products work.

Duties

Sales engineers typically do the following:

  • Prepare and deliver technical presentations explaining products or services to existing and prospective customers
  • Talk with customers and engineers to assess equipment needs and to determine system requirements
  • Collaborate with sales teams to understand customer requirements and provide sales support
  • Secure and renew orders and arrange delivery
  • Plan and modify products to meet customer needs
  • Help clients solve problems with installed equipment
  • Recommend improved materials or machinery to customers, showing how changes will lower costs or increase production
  • Help in researching and developing new products

Sales engineers specialize in technologically and scientifically advanced products. They use their technical skills to explain the benefits of their products or services to potential customers and to show how their products or services are better than their competitors’. Some sales engineers work for the companies that design and build technical products. Others work for independent sales firms.

Many of the duties of sales engineers are similar to those of other salespersons. They must interest the client in buying their products or services, negotiate a price, and complete the sale. To do this, sales engineers give technical presentations during which they explain the technical aspects of the product and how it will solve a specific customer problem.

Some sales engineers team with other salespersons, such as wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives, who concentrate on marketing and selling the product, which lets the sales engineer concentrate on the technical aspects of the job. By working as part of a sales team, each member is able to focus on his or her strengths and expertise.

In addition to giving technical presentations, sales engineers are increasingly doing other tasks related to sales, such as market research. They also may ask for technical requirements from customers and modify and adjust products to meet customers’ specific needs. Some sales engineers work with research and development (R&D) departments to help identify and develop new products.

Sales engineers held about 64,500 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of sales engineers were as follows:

Merchant wholesalers, durable goods 27%
Manufacturing 20
Computer systems design and related services 18
Wholesale electronic markets and agents and brokers 6
Telecommunications 5

Some sales engineers have large territories and travel extensively. Because sales regions may cover several states, sales engineers may be away from home for several days or even weeks at a time. Other sales engineers cover a smaller region and spend only a few nights away from home.

Sales engineers may encounter stress because their income and job security often depend directly on their success in sales and customer service.

Work Schedules

Most sales engineers work full time. Some may work additional and irregular hours to meet sales goals and client needs.

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of sales engineers.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2019

Aerospace Engineers

Aerospace engineers design primarily aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles.

Bachelor’s degree $116,500

Computer Hardware Engineers

Computer hardware engineers research, design, develop, and test computer systems and components.

Bachelor’s degree $117,220

Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacture of electrical equipment.

Bachelor’s degree $101,250

Industrial engineers

Industrial Engineers

Industrial engineers devise efficient systems that integrate workers, machines, materials, information, and energy to make a product or provide a service.

Bachelor’s degree $88,020

Insurance Sales Agents

Insurance sales agents contact potential customers and sell one or more types of insurance.

High school diploma or equivalent $50,940

Mechanical engineers

Mechanical Engineers

Mechanical engineers design, develop, build, and test mechanical and thermal sensors and devices.

Bachelor’s degree $88,430

Purchasing Managers, Buyers, and Purchasing Agents

Buyers and purchasing agents buy products and services for organizations. Purchasing managers oversee the work of buyers and purchasing agents.

Bachelor’s degree $69,600

Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents

Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents connect buyers and sellers in financial markets.

Bachelor’s degree $62,270

Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives

Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives sell goods for wholesalers or manufacturers to businesses, government agencies, and other organizations.

See How to Become One $63,000

Materials Engineers

Materials engineers develop, process, and test materials used to create a wide range of products.

Bachelor’s degree $93,360

For more information about careers in sales occupations, visit

Manufacturers’ Agents National Association (MANA)

Manufacturers’ Representatives Educational Research Foundation (MRERF)

O*NET

Sales Engineers


Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Sales Engineers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/sales-engineers.htm (visited ).