What Is the Average Starting Salary for a Sales Associate?

If you are considering a sales job or a career in sales, you are probably wondering what the average starting salary is for a sales associate. The term “sales associate” is broad and can encompass a wide spectrum of types of sales jobs. From a cashier at a grocery store, to someone who sell computers, to large companies. Depending on what you sell and where you sell it, your salary can vary from a minimum hourly wage up to six figures per year.

Hourly Jobs

Many companies use the phrase “sales associate” to refer to their employees who are engaged in the process of selling merchandise. So if you are working the cash register at a grocery or convenience store, or at a fast food restaurant, you can expect to earn an hourly wage slightly above minimum wage. For example, a sales associate at Pier 1 can expect to start earning $7.25/hour. Depending on whether the store is located in a small town, or a large city, the income will vary. Sales associates often have a monthly sales quota to meet, and if they don’t have high enough numbers, they can eventually be terminated.

To give you some idea of the range you can expect, the median wage for hourly sales associates ranges between $8.00 to $13.50. The lowest 10% made just over $7.25/hour while the highest 10% earned a little more than $19.00 per hour.

Salaried Jobs

The higher paying sales associate jobs are the ones where you are selling higher ticket items. Sometimes you will be selling things like cars and yachts or copiers and computers. Salaried jobs come with an annual base salary somewhere in the neighborhood of $30,000-$40,000. However, like some of the other jobs mentioned previously, these jobs usually also offer a commission that is a percentage of the sales cost. Also, as you gain experience, you can often move up the pay scale to higher paying positions.

Commission Jobs

Although some sales associates earn an established salary no matter how much they sell, others receive not only a base salary but also a commission. The commission usually comes in the form of a percentage of their total sales. Sometimes the commission is based on each particular item that they sell. Still other sales associates do not get any base pay at all; instead, they only get paid commissions (usually in the range of 7-10%) when they sell products. If you enjoy selling, working on commission could be very profitable for you, especially if you are selling high end products.

Other Benefits

In addition to pay, sales associates are sometimes offered other perks like a discount on the store's merchandise often in the range of 15-25% off. Sometimes you will also be eligible for other benefits like health insurance and vacation pay. These added benefits can greatly enhance the starting salary of a sales associate and can make the job more enticing.

Job Outlook

The largest number of retail salespeople are employed in he following industries: department and clothing stores, auto dealerships, and building materials and supplies. Unfortunately, according to the Department of Labor, salaries for sales associates are about 10-15% lower than for positions in other industries that require similar experience. However, successful sales associates often have a good chance of being promoted to management positions that pay higher salaries.