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Why sales is a hot new job

Meet one man in the Boston area who is holding down three online sales jobs – and earning more than $250,000 a year. 

By Margaret PriceCorrespondent / February 1, 2013

Ad salesman Tim Kilroy works remotely on his computer from a Starbucks last month in Arlington, Massachusetts.

Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor


Tim Kilroy, a father of five, changed jobs about a year ago to become a sales representative for three companies, all in some ways linked to technology. The payoff: He raked in between $250,000 and $500,000 last year.

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His full-time job is selling advertising for Triggit, an online firm based in San Francisco. And on evenings and weekends, he's a part-time sales rep for two Internet companies that produce social analytic software.

"In sales, if you're good at your job, you can go from making a lot of money most of the time to making an incredible amount all the time," says Mr. Kilroy, who works from home in Arlington, Mass.

Kilroy is part of the rebirth of the salesperson – someone who was supposed to become obsolete in the Internet Age. In theory, people were all going to start doing their buying directly online. No need for legions of salesclerks.

Instead, in some ways the Internet is expanding the need for salespeople – particularly those who sell scientific and technical products and services, which can be lucrative. In 2010, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports, these sales engineers earned a median annual salary of $87,390 (including base pay, bonuses, and commissions), making that the highest paid of all sales categories. In second place were sales reps in wholesale and manufacturing, specifically for technical and scientific products, who earned a median yearly income of $73,710.

Moreover, the growth of jobs in those areas will exceed that for the sales profession overall. During the 2010-20 decade, the BLS projects that jobs for sales engineers will climb 14.4 percent, while sales rep jobs in wholesale and manufacturing for technical and scientific products will advance 16.4 percent.

Selling sophisticated wares holds not only the potential for high earnings but the excitement of working in growing fields and making contact with creative people. But such jobs aren't easy.

"They take somebody highly skilled technically who has the ability to make complicated products easy to understand and can explain how they will solve a customer's problem," says Tom Silver, senior vice president at, a New York-based website that links up employers and the tech community.

The skills and knowledge of the sales reps also have to be kept up to date, which may require attending classes or retraining. And traditional selling techniques may not work with high-tech wares.


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