A degree is not always required for software sales but helps tremendously. Before applying for a job in this field, explore the education requirements for a career in tech sales.
What Level of Education Do You Need?
Many sales jobs are available that only require a high school diploma or a GED. However, some companies require an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions. Even when a degree is not required, it can help you stand out compared to other candidates.
The level of education often depends on the level of responsibility for the job and the following factors:
- The size of the organization
- The talent pool in the area
- The industry or type of sales
Some tech sales positions are more likely to require a degree. For example, most jobs that involve supervising other sales representatives will likely require a college degree. A degree is helpful when most of the other candidates applying for the same job have a bachelor’s degree. A recent study found that over half of sales reps have a bachelor’s degree and 14% have a master’s degree.
Certain industries are also more likely to require a college degree. When working in software sales in healthcare or information technology, employers prefer to hire individuals with industry-specific educational backgrounds.
Types of Software Sales Positions
When considering the level of education, it helps to understand the different types of sales positions, including:
- Account executive
- Sales development representative
- Outside sales representative
- Post-sales account manager
- Sales manager
- Sales engineer
The account executive is one of the most common types of software sales positions. The job of the account executive is to close deals with potential clients. In many organizations, entry-level account executives are less likely to require an advanced college degree.
Sales development representatives and outside sales representatives are typically the lowest levels of tech sales. These reps are responsible for building relationships with potential new clients. They make lots of cold calls and attract qualified leads that are then sent to account executives.
Sales reps may only need a high school diploma, but an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree can provide a competitive advantage. Post-sales account managers, sales managers, and sales engineers often need a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree.
These positions involve additional responsibilities. Managers and engineers maintain relationships with clients and work with software developers to deliver better solutions to clients.
Associate’s Degree: An associate’s degree is the minimum educational requirement for many entry-level sales jobs outside of software sales. Earning an associate’s degree may be a suitable option for those who want to enter the workforce sooner, as most programs only take two years to complete. However, you may struggle to progress beyond a sales rep with just an associate’s degree.
Obtaining an associate’s degree may allow you to start quickly working in sales, giving you the chance to earn work experience. You could then enroll in an accelerated program to earn a bachelor’s degree when you are ready for a career in tech sales.
Bachelor’s Degree: A bachelor’s degree is necessary for most account executive software sales positions and nearly all senior positions, such as account managers and sales managers. Larger organizations are also more likely to require a higher level of education. A bachelor’s degree is also useful in a competitive job market.
Master’s Degree: A master’s degree is less common for those in sales positions. About 14% of software sales representatives hold master’s degrees. An advanced college degree is typically recommended for management jobs and executive positions. Technical or specialized software sales may also require a master’s degree.
What Should You Choose as a Major for Software Sales?
The major that you choose may impact the type of courses that you complete and the education that you receive. However, most employers are less concerned about the area of your studies. Employers tend to focus more on the fact that you have a degree and the level of the degree.
While a specific major is not required, selecting the right major can give you beneficial skills and knowledge for a career in sales. Some of the most common majors for those involved in tech sales include:
- Business management
- Business administration
- Computer science
Business management and business administration provide the skills and knowledge needed to manage others. Courses include organizational behavior, management, business ethics, finance, marketing, and economics.
Marketing and communications are also common degrees for those who want to work in software sales. Marketing courses teach you how to explain the value of a product or feature to potential customers. You can learn essential skills for a career in sales. Communications courses are useful for improving your interpersonal skills, which are also an important part of working in a sales role.
You may also select a major based on the industry that you plan on working in or the type of sales job. For example, sales engineers are more likely to have master’s degrees related to their technical area of expertise. A sales rep working for a company that sells pharmaceutical software may benefit from a degree in pharmaceuticals.
No matter the major, your college education should include computer courses, such as programming or software development. Working in software sales requires more technical knowledge compared to other sales jobs, which is why computer science is a common major.
You may also double major or take additional courses in a different field. Earning a master’s degree also provides the chance to select a different field of study. For example, you may earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science or marketing and a master’s in business administration (MBA).
Getting a college degree is a good idea if you want to work in tech sales. About 52% of software sales representatives have a bachelor’s degree, making it beneficial even if the position does not strictly require a degree.
Along with a degree, you will likely need sales experience. Look for any type of sales work during or after college to round out your resume.