The 5 Best Sales Jobs in 2018 for Long-Term Success

As a software sales professional, I’m very much an advocate for long-term career prospects in the space, as well as earning potential. However, not everyone that is interested in a sales career loves the IT/software space, so I have comprised this research on the 5 best sales jobs across any industry.

My name is Rob a software sales veteran who has written this article for The No.1 Resume Writers For Sales Professionals.

When examining the best sales jobs in 2018, I’ve sorted them according to a number of categories; compensation, companies that hire and long-term career prospects. These aren’t your stereotypical door-to-door, Willy Loman-esque sales positions, but highly coveted roles that present the opportunity to earn significant compensation in complex and technical sales environments.

This list is meant to help open up your eyes to some of the most popular and respected sales professions in existence, so that you can evaluate a career that works well for you.

The article is also in video format below, if you prefer to read then continue below.

As usual, if you have any questions after reading through this content, check out the conclusion of the article for additional advice, how to contact me, etc.

The 5 Best Sales Jobs in 2018:

Software Sales Jobs

As I noted in the introduction to this post, I am presently a software sales professional, an Account Executive to be exact. Software Sales jobs are something that I’m extremely passionate about and speak to quite often.

For me, the software sales industry is something that fits my criteria for a great career. It’s challenging, provides the potential for excellent compensation, terrific benefits and it’s something that I’m passionate about.

Software Sales Compensation and Companies that Hire

Compensation in the software sales world can vary depending upon your specific role; Account Executives, Account Managers, Sales Engineers, Sales Development Representatives all get paid in different ways.

The most common structure for direct sales positions, or Software Account Executives, is 50/50 compensation, meaning 50% of your compensation comes in the form of a base salary and the other 50% comes in the form of variable commissions.

While some entry level professionals in the software sales space might start off with compensation in the $45,000 – $60,000 base salary range, with an additional $45,000 – $60,000 in variable commissions, more seasoned enterprise professionals can easily double or triple those type of earnings. According to headhunter Paul McEwan in a recent interview,

Overall, at top-paying enterprise software companies like Oracle, SAP, HP, Microsoft, and IBM, the “top 20 percenters” — the 20% of salespeople in the company who consistently sell the most — make $250,000 to $350,000 a year, headhunters and enterprise sales people tell us.
The top 10 percenters “make from high the $200s to low the $400s, and are cranking in that zone, year after year,” McEwan says.

Mentioned in the article are big name software companies; Oracle, SAP, HP, Microsoft and IBM, that are constantly hiring (and paying top dollar) for sales reps. However, compensation and growth isn’t just limited to Fortune 500 type technology companies. For even more details on this, I covered a list of companies that are typically hiring for software sales talent, as well as platforms to find these type of opportunities in “How (and Why) to Start a Career in Software Sales”.

Long-term Career Prospects for Software Sales Jobs

While some sales professions have become phased out by technology and automation, the demand for software sales professionals who can execute complex deal cycles continues to grow significantly.

Examining long-term trends and the difficulty that many companies currently face in finding and filling roles for software sales positions, I believe that the long-term prospects in this industry are highly favorable towards job candidates.

Medical Device Sales Jobs

Medical Device Sales Jobs are coveted by many professionals for high compensation packages and the potential to truly provide value in the healthcare field. In addition to the perks of extremely competitive base salaries, bonus structures and comprehensive benefits packages, medical sales representatives can enjoy the work for a number of other reasons according to Robyn Melhuish of

Employees feel as though they are running their own small business. Another perk of working in medical sales is having a real opportunity to contribute to the field of healthcare. Sales reps are educating doctors about the cutting edge of medical innovation and technology.

By bringing their products into hospitals and doctor’s offices, they have a tangible effect on patient care. Knowing you help drive medicine forward every day can make a powerful impact. – Community Parade

High pay, entrepreneurial spirit and the potential to contribute actual good to society? Not a bad combination for a reason to get into Medical Device Sales.

Medical Device Sales Compensation and Companies that Hire

As previously stated, one of the most attractive things about a career in Medical Device Sales is the competitive compensation. Let’s take Stryker for example, a Fortune 500 medical technologies company that also happens to be on Fortune’s list of 100 Best Places to Work.

The average total compensation of a Stryker Medical Devices Sales Representative is $116,000 according to GlassDoor, with base salaries ranging up to $140,000 and commission sharing plans hitting even more than that amount.

In personal conversations with professionals in the medical device sales space, I’ve heard compensation ranges that can easily exceed $200,000 and range up to $400,000-500,000 depending upon years of experience, company, territory, products, etc.

Pharmaceutical Sales Jobs

Pharmaceutic Sales Jobs have become a popular career path for recent college graduates seeking competitive compensation packages, excellent benefits and long-term growth potential. Due to the continued aging of the population (and one can argue the increasing obesity epidemic), the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry has been moving at a steady pace, somewhat regardless of other macro trends.

Because of many of the below reasons, careers in pharmaceutical sales are often considered some of the best sales jobs out to work in.

Pharmaceutical Sales Compensation and Companies that Hire

Most commonly, pharmaceutical sales representatives are paid on a base salary + bonus/commission structure. For example, at a company like Pfizer, sales reps are paid a base salary between $55,000 – $125,000 per year (as self-reported on GlassDoor), with additional compensation coming in the form of structured bonuses and commissions. The bonus/commission plans are often variable depending upon individual and company performance.

Below is information directly from GlassDoor, containing the average salary for sales representatives within the most popular (or largest) pharmaceutical companies. Not only is this helpful in terms of understanding the type of compensation you can expect from a base salary perspective, but also some of the top companies hiring for these pharma sales rep jobs.

Long-term Career Prospects for Pharmaceutical Sales Jobs

Pharmaceutical Sales is sometimes discussed to be a “recession proof” job because there is typically a steady demand for the medicine offered and healthcare in general. Wall Street might crash, the “bubble” might pop in tech, but people will still need medicine regardless. This usually lends itself to strong long-term career prospects in pharmaceutical sales, although the industry is susceptible to mergers/acquisitions and the lay-offs that are associated with M&A.

Financial Sales Jobs

You might have a specific image of a Financial Sales Representative in your head. You might envision Jordan Belfort blindly cold-calling any schmuck with a phone and selling pink sheet stocks. Those days have largely disappeared (thanks to the invention of the internet and the ability for any layman to research stocks), but the Financial Sales industry is still a thriving one.

Today, Financial Sales Representatives meet with their clients to discuss new investment strategies and short/long-term financial goals, with the hope of providing a solution to meet their clients needs. There’s still cold-calling involved, typically to find new potential client relationships, but once a client is found, a Financial Sales Representative needs to possess great personal skills, knowledge of the financial markets, and actually be able to match a client’s needs with a solution that can add value.

Long-term Career Prospects for Financial Sales Jobs

The financial industry as a whole is rapidly becoming “disrupted” by FinTech (financial technology) companies that can automate significant portions of the investment process, IE Betterment, Wealthfront and Personal Capital. However, hiring growth is still occurring within the sector. According to the United States Department of Labor, the Job Outlook between 2014 and 2024 is estimated to grow at 10%.

You might also take note of 2018’s median pay for Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales agent at $77,550 per year, which is 2x the national average wage!

Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) Sales Jobs

A popular post college graduate career path can be found in CPG Sales otherwise known as Consumer Packaged Goods. As companies fight for shelf space in super markets and the demand for products becomes more complex, CPG Sales professionals are required by some of the world’s most well-known companies.

Take Yahoo as an example. In the video below, Yahoo’s Keevie, Director of Sales in CPG, discusses why she thinks likes Yahoo and discusses some of her duties and responsibilities.

Benefits mentioned by Keevie in the video include flexibility to move between roles and business lines, opportunities for growth, ability to gain true business to business sales experience and a structured interview processes.

Another company that hires in the space, RB, parent organization of household brands including Lysol, Air Wick, Mucinex and many more, is well known within the space for hiring both recent college graduates and experienced professionals. According to RB’s Sales Career Page,

When it comes to our trading partners, our sales team is the face of RB. From large supermarkets to smaller pharmacies and outlets, online or in-store – the key to our success is the team.

With a thorough understanding of stores and consumer behaviours, and a strong focus on P&L, we concentrate on excellent in-store activation, and consistently and speedily executing best practice everywhere we sell.


There are many sales careers in which someone can make a comfortable (or excellent) living. However, the previous five are, in my opinion, the best sales jobs at this point in time due to their high compensation, future outlook and career sustainability.

If you are considering a job in one of these sales industries, or think another position deserves consideration, then please leave a comment below and I will answer any questions you have.

This is one of my most popular articles on Career Dreaming and something that I’m quite passionate about.

Whether you have experience in your chosen career or not, we can write you the perfect interview catching sales resume. If you would like to beat the competition in the lucrative industry of sales then head over to our homepage and order a professionally written sales resume done by veterans of the sales industry. Career Dreaming Resume Packs

16 Responses
  1. Justin Rowley

    I am very aggressively pursuing a career in medical sales for all the reasons mentioned above, especially the fact that you can educate doctors on cutting edge technology that betters patient’s lives. I’m currently a physical therapist with real estate sales experience. I’ve had a tough time breaking into this industry. I welcome any advice you may have for me. Thanks!

    1. Jay

      Justin, if this is something you’re serious about, I would start by taking an entry level B2B sales position. (ADP, Paychex, Cintas, Etc.) Work your tail off, gain experience, and become a top performer so you can market yourself for an associate role to get your foot in the door. Many people ask me how to break into medical device sales and when I give them advice they scoff at the idea of taking an entry level sales role. There are other routes but this is the path that I and many others have taken. You’re already an attractive candidate because of your clinical background. But a sales company would rather train a top sales performer clinical knowledge vs training a sales process to a clinical professional. There are other avenues but this is one in particular that worked for me. Good luck

  2. Software sales is certainly a potentially excellent career move, however don`t move into sales unless you have the right personality and attitude as it is not for everybody. A very interesting article thanks.

    1. John

      Mr Robin,

      I don’t know about the sources, but the profession of sales being ‘safe and reliable’ isn’t going to happen.

      I’ve been in it over 20 years, involved with multiple markets, and I can tell you that whatever market you decide to go into starts to evolve, the expectations and compensation of sales reps also changes, and seldom for the better.

      Your job, even with the same company, NEVER stays the same. In Sales, your ability to cope with changes had better be well above-average, no matter how dramatic it happens.

      Sales is definitely NOT for anyone wanting to play it safe.

      The absolute BEST time to be a sales rep is in emerging markets and new technologies, where the rules haven’t been laid out yet and getting customers is far more important than anything else in the company. It’s akin to being in the ‘wild west’: fun, a little dangerous, incredible money, But be forewarned: it never, ever, lasts.

      Just like surfing: you ride that wave, paddle back out, and wait for the next one!

  3. Tom

    Thank you for a helpful article. I am exploring a Sales role at a company that provides Medical Devices for home home use. Much of my time would be promoting our products and the rest would be working with the user. What do you think of a sales job in home medical device sales? I am in a B2B facilities management sales role today.

  4. Jason

    I’ve been in sales my whole life( 25 years) building businesses through aggressive sales. Looking to take on a new promising challenge & I’m interested in software sales but I’m not very knowledgeable in the software industry. Should I reconsider my options or do software companies expect you to walk through the doors knowing the industry and product knowledge immediately

  5. I am a senior in college graduating in December, 2018. I have discovered that I love sales and want to pursue a high paying sales job with potential for moving up in the company. I am getting my degree in Geography, but have come to realize I do not want to crunch numbers the rest of my life. I am including this information for resume purposes. I am currently an intern at a car dealership as a car salesman, and have previous sales experience as a full time car salesman as well. I am interested in getting into both medical and pharmaceutical sales, but have zero experience with anything medical. I am open to what I should do. What would you recommend with my experience level and resume?

  6. Nice article! Its always great to know about in demand jobs. As a fresher job seeker in 2018 i am also looking for the field,job which having highest demand so that i can explore career in it. Thanks a lot for sharing this valuable information here as it is so helpful for me in choosing jobs.

  7. David

    There are some things that this article does not discuss regarding these types of sales positions. My experience is in medical device but I would think that the other industries would be similar. The positions are generally not very stable. I was recently laid off when the company I was with restructured. While networking and interviewing within the medical device industry I don’t believe I spoke to a single person that had not been laid off at some point in their medical device career. If it happens within the first 1-3 years of breaking into the industry it is going to be very difficult to rebound. Also, the compensation mentioned isn’t exactly what it’s made out to be. The current trend with a lot if the bigger companies is 100% commission with no expense reimbursement. You receive nothing for car allowance, fuel, sometimes marketing expenses, travel. Reps are reporting expenses as high as $35,000-$45,000 annually. So if you are making $120,000 (hopefully after taxes, because commission is taxed higher than salary or hourly) with $35,000 in expenses you are really only making $85,000. Which is probably less than that ADP, Paychex, or Cintas gig you left to go into medical device.

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