Technical Sales Career Track

Learn how to become a technical sales rep. Explore education requirements, job titles, and the highest paid technical sales jobs.
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Updated on December 14, 2023
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  • Technical sales can be a great field for people interested in business, communications, and technology.
  • Tech sales reps communicate with clients and promote services based on their needs.
  • Many representatives have academic or professional backgrounds in tech-oriented disciplines.
  • These jobs require different levels of education and technical proficiency.

As demand for high-tech services and innovative products grows, technical sales representatives bridge communication between tech manufacturers and clients. Although jobs in technical sales do not necessarily require expert-level knowledge, representatives should have a well-developed understanding of their products and services and strong interpersonal communication skills.

Technical sales reps communicate with consumers, assess client needs, and recommend appropriate products and services. These individuals will often have at least a preliminary background in tech, and many have bachelor's or associate degrees in disciplines like computer science, programming, software development, or telecommunication.

What Is Tech Sales?

Tech sales is a subspeciality of sales. Tech salespeople act as representatives for software or other technology companies to promote their products and services. With the prevalence of technology, nearly all companies purchase technology to facilitate operations. If a company uses specific tech like Apple or Microsoft or software like Canva, a tech salesperson may have sold them these products.

Tech salespeople use their knowledge of the products or services to help companies solve problems. This is often a multi-step process. Tech sales representatives may be asked to generate leads, research prospective clients' pain points, and understand an organization's internal structure. With this understanding, they can explain the value their company's products can add and provide solutions.

What Does a Tech Salesperson Do?

A tech salesperson works as an advocate for their company. They facilitate the sales process, from prospecting leads to closing the sale and providing ongoing support. A tech salesperson can facilitate the entire sale or choose one of several subspecialties, including:

  • Inside sales representative
  • Account executive in tech
  • Software as a service specialist (SaaS)
  • Account manager
  • Customer success manager
  • Renewal specialist
  • Business development manager
  • Business development representative
  • Sale development representative

These professionals specialize in one aspect of the tech sales funnel. For example, a business development representative reaches out to new potential clients and generates leads. Account executives in tech and SaaS specialists work to move sales-qualified leads to customers by finalizing the sale.

Post-sale, account managers offer service and support to customers to ensure all needs and expectations are met. Customer success managers help clients take full advantage of the product offering to improve their business operations. These professionals will need proficiency in the technology or software sold.

Throughout the sales process, inside sales representatives work with clients through digital communication online or through phone conversations.

7 Types of Jobs for Technical Sales

Sales Engineer

  • Median Salary (2021): $103,710
  • Job Outlook: 8%
  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree in engineering, business, industrial technology, or a related field

Like all sales professionals, sales engineers represent a commercial business and sell products and services to consumers. They must generate interest, research clients, arrange product orders, negotiate pricing, and determine which services best align with clients' needs.

Sales engineers specialize in high-tech products, such as hardware and software systems, and should have a strong practical understanding of the items that they promote. Often, they will conduct presentations to communicate the practical and monetary benefits of implementing these technical services.


Computer Support Specialist

  • Median Salary (2021): $57,910
  • Job Outlook: 9%
  • Required Education: Associate or bachelor's degree in information technology, programming, or engineering
  • Licenses/Certifications: Product or company-specific certification or IT certifications like the CompTIA A+ credential

As organizations incorporate more high-tech tools and infrastructures, tech experts frequently help employees and consumers work through issues and acclimate to new technology initiatives. Computer support specialists may assist users with equipment, software systems, security protocols, Wi-Fi routers, digital storage, or business-specific programs.

Computer support specialists must also have excellent communication skills, patience, and problem-solving abilities. These professionals must also have a high-level technical understanding of products to effectively guide other users. Often, these individuals communicate with users in-person or through online platforms, messaging, or phone.


Computer Hardware Engineer

Computer hardware engineers design computer hardware schematics and other equipment. These professionals usually collaborate with software engineers to create hardware products that can work in tandem with corresponding software and can accommodate software updates.

Many hardware engineering projects focus on adding software systems or internet accessibility to electronic devices like home appliances, cars, or medical instruments. This career best suits analytical, detail-oriented people with strong collaboration and problem-solving abilities. Computer hardware engineers do not usually work in sales, but their deep understanding of the product can make them very effective and helpful sales representatives.


Telecommunications Equipment Installer and Repairer

  • Median Salary (2021): $60,370
  • Job Outlook: -1%
  • Required Education: Associate degree, bootcamp, or postsecondary training program in telecommunications, computer programming, or computer networking

Telecommunications equipment installers set up dialing and routing equipment in businesses, private residences, and other facilities. They repair damaged or outdated equipment and may install updated infrastructures to improve phone or internet services.

These technicians must be adept at the more technical components of product installation and use specialized tools like polarity probes and spectrum analyzers. Often, these workers are responsible for instructing consumers on how to use equipment and can serve as a link between manufacturers and customers.


Sales Manager

Once professionals have built a robust sales background, they can work in leadership positions as sales managers. These individuals oversee other sales professionals, plan client acquisition initiatives, set sales quotas, recruit and train staff, and assess sales statistics.

Within the tech industry, sales managers might present devices or software in business-to-business meetings and strategize product promotions. These leaders need adequate technical knowledge to effectively promote their products.


Computer and Information Research Scientist

  • Median Salary (2021): $131,490
  • Job Outlook: 22%
  • Required Education: Master's or doctoral degree in computer science, IT, or computer engineering

Computer and information research scientists apply a more advanced understanding of software systems to develop innovative products. These scientists solve computing problems and improve existing systems based on users' needs. They may create theoretical designs and conduct experiments to test their theories.

Many information research scientists collaborate with other experts, like software engineers or security specialists, to optimize their products. Like many researchers, these professionals often write or publish papers to document their findings. They may specialize in areas like programming or robotics.


Retail Sales Worker

  • Median Salary (2021): $29,180
  • Job Outlook: -1%
  • Required Education: No formal requirements, though certain employers require a high school diploma or GED certificate

Many people interested in technical sales careers begin working in retail environments. Retail workers typically display merchandise, provide customer service, answer customers' questions, promote featured products, and process payments.

Retail workers who specialize in tech products — such as computers, mobile phone services, or routing equipment — should have enough product knowledge to recommend merchandise or service packages to consumers. Retail roles do not usually have specific education or certification requirements, so they can be a good stepping stone for workers looking for jobs in technical sales later on.

How to Become a Technical Sales Professional

  • Earn a high school diploma or GED certificate
  • Complete an associate or bachelor's degree in a relevant field
  • Earn any role-specific certifications
  • Begin your career with an internship, co-op, or fellowship

People can enter technical sales careers through a variety of different educational and professional paths. Nearly all technical sales careers require at least a high school diploma or GED certificate. However, technical sales jobs require different levels of product knowledge, education, and technical proficiency.

Retail associates and retail managers that sell high-tech products, for example, do not usually need any formal education in hardware or software systems. Some retail workers who work with high-end merchandise may complete on-the-job or company-specific product training.

Higher-level sales professionals like sales engineers or sales managers should have completed at least an associate or bachelor's degree in relevant areas like computer science, computer engineering, programming or information technology. Many people can supplement 'less relevant' degrees through bootcamp programs, co-ops, internships, or fellowships.

A bachelor's degree prepares professionals for most jobs in technical sales. A higher-level degree might be worth considering for people who hope to spearhead innovations, conduct research, or teach postsecondary students.

What Kind of Skills Do Tech Salespeople Need?

Although it can be an interesting and demanding career, tech sales requires a strong soft skill set beyond technical education. Tech sales skills like communication, problem-solving, and current tech knowledge can help professionals succeed. Below are some useful skills for tech salespeople.

Problem-Solving

From following customer leads to offering support with the product after the sale, problem-solving is essential in tech sales. Tech salespeople work with companies in the pre-sale phase to understand a company's pain points and provide solutions to these problems. After the sale, these professionals may be called upon to troubleshoot technology or adapt products to meet customers' needs.

Strong Communication

All sales representatives rely on their communication skills to succeed. In tech sales, professionals need strong communication skills to convey their value proposition to customers and clearly express technical information. Team and inter-departmental communication is also necessary to build a cohesive message and provide efficient customer support.

Up-to-Date Tech Knowledge

Up-to-date technical knowledge of the products and services offered is essential for tech sales careers. Current technical knowledge allows these professionals to educate customers on product value and company-specific applications. As technology evolves, professionals must keep updating their knowledge and technical understanding.

Eye for New Opportunities

Sales is often about finding or creating opportunities. Tech sales representatives can apply their creativity, technical understanding, and problem-solving skills to find new opportunities. This can include identifying potential clients, new products, or services emerging within the industry.

Is a Career in Tech Sales Worth It?

Tech sales careers can be lucrative, interesting opportunities for professionals who enjoy technology and innovation. Median salaries range from $62,890 to $127,490. Projected growth for tech sales jobs is 5% to 8% from 2020 to 2030.

Tech sales can be a good career for professionals who enjoy working with technical information, emerging tech, and innovation. As this career involves communication with both customers and companies, professionals with strong communication skills and who enjoy working with others can be a good fit.

According to the BLS, Massachusetts, Texas, Connecticut, California, and Maryland have the greatest number of tech sales jobs available as of May 2021.. For sales engineers, the broad term for tech sales, the top-paying metropolitan areas include Salisbury, Delaware; Birmingham, Alabama; Washington D.C.; Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia; and San Jose, Sunnyvale, and Santa Clara, California. Companies like Apple, Microsoft, Dell, and Autodesk are some of the top employers hiring tech sales professionals.

Technical Sales Salary

Payscale indicates that, as of 2022, the average salary for technical sales representatives was $63,000. In the same year, entry-level technical sales reps earned an average of $55,322 per year, while mid-career representatives earned $68,525 and late-career representatives earned $74,087.

How to Find a Technical Sales Job

While researching how to become a technical salesperson, some professionals use tech-specific job boards and websites like Mashable, Dice, and TheLions. Job seekers may also browse listings on larger sites like Linkedin or Indeed.

Aspiring technical sales professionals should form connections with alumni, faculty members, supervisors, and co-workers to build a network of industry professionals who can provide career guidance and help them find jobs.

Fortunately, many postsecondary institutions and bootcamp programs have career services to help students and new grads transition into their careers. Many of these support infrastructures allow students access to networking platforms, internships, and mentorship programs. Students can often use these resources remotely, and many schools even hold virtual networking events and career fairs.

Technical Sales Professional Organizations

This organization provides tech industry professionals with avenues for collaboration, advisory services, research, and data-sharing. Members can learn how to grow their customer base, improve customer support infrastructures, and develop marketing strategies.

This vendor-neutral organization helps technology companies improve their business models through professional training programs, education opportunities, and market research solutions.

This collaborative education platform is for outsourced sales professionals who represent manufacturers. Members can access certification opportunities and training curricula based on contemporary research.

Frequently Asked Questions About Technical Sales Jobs

What is the highest-paid technical sales job?

Computer and information research scientists, for example, earned a median salary of $131,490 in 2021, according to the BLS. In the same year, the highest-earning 10% of these researchers made over $208,000. Certain technical sales careers can be especially lucrative.

With one of the highest-paid technical sales jobs, these professionals often have even greater salary prospects within certain niches and specializations. Information research scientists who worked in computer systems design and related services earned a median salary of $161,870, while those who worked for software publishers earned a median of $152,940.

What is the best technical sales job?

There is no single 'best' technical sales job. The most appropriate technical sales careers depend on an individual's level of training, desired salary prospects, professional strengths, and personal preferences.

Some people may be more interested in the more commercial aspects of technical sales and may prefer roles like sales engineer, sales representative, or sales manager. Others may be more interested in utilizing more hands-on technical experience and may prefer roles like telecommunications installer or computer support specialist.

Some professionals with high levels of training, such as hardware engineers and computer research scientists, may also enjoy representing tech companies in commercial settings.

Can I become a technical salesperson with an online degree?

Many technical sales jobs require an associate or bachelor's degree. As online higher education becomes more pervasive, an increasing number of employers see online degrees and credentials as completely legitimate.

In many cases, institutions award the same degrees to online and in-person learners, and employers will not be able to distinguish how graduates earned their degrees. Ultimately, students should be sure to enroll in a degree program from a reputable, accredited institution that will reflect well on their training.

How much money can I make as a technical salesperson?

Some technical sales careers are very well-paying, though exact salary prospects depend on job title, industry, employer, location, and experience level.

The BLS indicates that in 2021, computer support specialists earned a median salary of $57,910, while those employed in the telecommunications industry earned $76,910. In the same year, sales engineers earned a median of $103,710, while those who worked in computer systems design services earned $127,180.

Technical sales managers have some of the highest paid technical sales jobs; according to Payscale, these managers earned an average of $91,000 and an average of $91,150 in 2022, and experienced professionals in this role earned an average of roughly $103,000.

What is the fastest way to become a technical salesperson?

Individuals with a background in sales, IT, or computer science can sometimes transition into entry-level technical sales careers and gain adequate experience through on-the-job training.

People without relevant academic or professional experiences may also be able to enter technical sales careers through internships. These may be paid or unpaid, allowing aspiring sales reps to access hands-on training within weeks or months.

Bootcamp programs can also provide highly condensed curricula for people looking to gain specific technical knowledge in areas like computer programming or computer science and may act as a more short-term alternative to going back to school.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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