Search within:

Psychology Career Path: Sales

Potential Career Paths

  • Retail salesperson (B.A.)
  • Sales manager (B.A.)
  • Sales Representative (B.A.)
  • Alumni relations (B.A.)

Potential Graduate Programs

  • Business Administration (MBA)

Action Steps for Students

To become more involved in sales or learn about the profession, here is what students can do:

  1. Visit organizations such as the Manufacturers’ Representatives Education Research Foundation to learn more about careers in this field.
  2. Obtain work in a relevant business settings.
  3. Schedule a meeting with a professional sales representative to discuss the profession.

What is a Sales Professional?

Effectiveness in selling requires a number of important characteristics, including the ability to interact and communicate with people effectively. These skills are often associated with being successful in the field of psychology. Although poorly paid retail sales positions often come to mind when one thinks of sales, there are sales management positions and professional sales positions that are often lucrative. These positions are primarily as wholesale or manufacturing representatives. One may even become certified as a sales professional through various organizations, such as the Manufacturers' Representatives Education Research Foundation. To earn a certificate, normally one must complete a certain amount of training and pass an examination.

Promotion often occurs in the form of assignment transfer to a larger account or territory where commissions are expected to be greater. Those with good sales records and leadership may advance to positions such as supervisor, manager, or vice president of sales. Others who demonstrate research skills may find opportunities in purchasing, advertising, or marketing research.

Sales representatives can either work directly for a manufacturer or wholesaler or they may work with an independent sales agency. Experienced sales representatives working directly for a manufacturer or wholesaler may advance as sales trainers and instruct new employees on selling techniques and company policies and procedures. Some leave the manufacturer or wholesaler to start their own independent sales company.

The purpose of this track is to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of psychology while also providing students who want a central focus on the application of psychological principles to sales with the appropriate coursework.

Undergraduate Course Requirements

Students who are interested in pursuing a career in sales should be sure to work with an adviser to develop an academic plan that is tailored to their interests. The plan should lead to the completion of coursework that is useful for employment in an entry-level job in sales or for admission to a graduate program in psychology or business.

University and College Requirements

In addition to the suggestions for the sales track, be sure to complete all other university and college requirements, including the foreign language requirement.

The center staff recommend beginning the foreign language requirement in the first year. NOTE: Students may begin with a class higher than 1110 depending on foreign language placement test results. It is possible to place out of the foreign language requirement. Therefore, it is recommended that students take the placement test for any foreign language completed in high school.

Required Courses in Psychology

The following courses are highly recommended for students planning on pursuing a graduate degree in the sales field:

  • PSY 3510 Motivation (3)
  • PSY 3610 Industrial/Organizational Psychology (3)
  • PSY 3620 Advanced Organizational Psychology (3)
  • PSY 3630 Personnel Psychology (3)

Additional Coursework

Students should consider completing additional relevant coursework, including courses in oral communication (School of Communication), written communication (English Department), social behavior (Sociology Department), organizational behavior (Management Department), economics (Economics Department), and labor law (Political Science Department). Students should consult with an adviser to develop a curricular plan tailored to their own needs and interests.

Note: Be sure to check prerequisites for all coursework.

Fieldwork and Research in Psychology

It is highly recommended that students interested in Rehabilitation Counseling participate in research in a psychology lab and engage in fieldwork in settings related to the student?s particular area of interest.

Business Minor

A business minor is not required for students who wish to enter human resources, but an understanding of business is desirable, especially for those students who expect to be employed in a business setting following completion of their degree. A total of 15 credit hours and a 2.0 GPA are required for the business minor. Note: Non-business majors are limited to 29 hours of coursework in the College of Business.

Sales Certificate

Students from any college may earn a sales certificate from The Ralph and Luci Schey Sales Centre in the College of Business. At the present time, students may earn six different certificates:

  • The Sales Certificate with a Professional Focus
  • The Sales Certificate with a Retail Focus
  • The Sales Certificate with a Media Focus
  • The Sales Certificate with a Financial Services Focus
  • The Sales Certificate with a Sport Management Focus
  • The Sales Certificate with a Technical Focus

Admission into the sales certificate program is competitive.

Note: Non-business majors are limited to 29 hours of coursework in the College of Business.