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L Q. 3/Wcl ; 2<JD0- l^J^a-^3  Sales Occupations Reprinted from the Occupational Outlook Handbook, 1992-93 Edition U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics Bulletin 2400-12   https://fraser.stlouisfed.org Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis  S'^e-poIt^  AUG 1 3 1992  ,  Kmni  SiS  HsHI I  Cashiers (D.O.T. 209.567-014; 211.362-010, .367, .462, .467, .482; 249.467; and 294.567)  Nature of the Work Supermarkets, department stores, movie theaters, restaurants, and many other businesses employ cashiers to facilitate the sale of their merchandise. Most cashiers total bills, receive money, make change, fill out charge forms, and give receipts. Bank tellers, who perform similar duties but work in financial institutions, are discussed else­ where in the Handbook. Although specific job duties vary by employer, cashiers are usually assigned to a register and given a drawer at the beginning of each shift The drawer contains a “bank” of money. Cashiers must count their bank to insure that it contains the correct sum of money and that there is an adequate amount of change. At the end of their shift, they once again count its contents and compare them with sales data. An occasional shortage of small amounts may be overlooked, but repeat­ ed shortages are grounds for dismissal in many establishments. Cashiers traditionally have rung up customers’ purchases using a cash register—manually entering the price of each product the con­ sumer was buying. However, most establishments are now using more sophisticated equipment, such as scanners and computer termi­ nals. In stores with scanners, the cashier passes the product’s Univer­ sal Product Code over the scanning device, which transmits the code number to a computer. The computer identifies the item and its price. In other establishments, cashiers manually enter a code into a com­ puter terminal, and a description of the item and its price appear on the screen. After entering all items and subtracting the value of any coupons or special discounts, cashiers total the bill and take payment. Depend­ ing on the type of establishment, payment may be by cash, check, charge, or increasingly, debit cards. Cashiers must know the store’s policies and procedures for accepting each type of payment. For checks and charges, they may have to request additional identifica­ tion from the customer or call in for an authorization. When the sale is complete, cashiers give the appropriate change and issue a receipt to the customer. They may also wrap or bag the purchase. In addition to counting the contents of their drawer at the end of their shift, cashiers usually separate charge forms, return slips, coupons, and any other noncash items. Cashiers may also handle returns and exchanges. They must insure that the merchandise is in good condition and determine where and when it was purchased and the type of payment used. Cashiers may have other duties as well. In many supermarkets and convenience stores, for example, cashiers weigh produce and bulk food as well as return unwanted items to the shelves. At movie the­ aters and ticket agencies, cashiers operate ticket-dispensing machines and answer questions. Counter and rental clerks, who perform many similar duties, are discussed elsewhere in the Handbook. Working Conditions Many cashiers work a standard 40-hour week. However, more than one-half of all cashiers are on part-time schedules. Hours of work often vary depending on the needs of the employer. Generally, cashiers are expected to work weekends, evenings, and holidays to accommodate customers’ needs. However, because of this, many employers offer flexible schedules. Full-time workers who work on weekends receive time off during the week. Because the holiday season is the busiest time for most retailers, many employers restrict the use of vacation time from Thanksgiving through the beginning of January. Most cashiers work indoors, usually standing in small booths or behind counters. In addition, they are often unable to leave their workstations without supervisory approval since they are responsible for large sums of money. The work of cashiers can be very repetitious  2  https://fraser.stlouisfed.org Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis  but improvements in machine design are being made to combat prob­ lems caused by repetitive motion. Dealing with angry customers can be very taxing but, overall, the job can be rewarding for those who like working with people. Employment Cashiers held about 2,633,000 jobs in 1990. Although employed in nearly every industry, more than one-third of all jobs were in super­ markets and other food stores. Department stores, gasoline service stations, drug stores, and other retail establishments also employed large numbers of these workers. Because cashiers are needed in busi­ nesses and organizations of all types and sizes, job opportunities are found throughout the country. Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement Cashier jobs tend to be entry level positions requiring little or no work experience. Although there are no specific educational require­ ments, employers filling full-time jobs often prefer applicants with a high school diploma. Nearly all cashiers are trained on the job. In small firms, beginners are often trained by an experienced worker. The first day is usually spent observing the operation and becoming familiar with the store’s equipment, policies, and procedures. After this, trainees are assigned to a register—frequently under the supervision of a more experienced worker. In larger firms, trainees spend several days in classes before being placed on the sales floor. Topics covered typically include a description of the industry and the company, instruction on the store’s policies, procedures, and equipment operation, and security. Training for experienced workers is not common except when new equipment is introduced or when procedures change. In these cases, training is given on the job by the employer or a representative of the equipment manufacturer. Persons who want to become cashiers should be able to do repeti­ tious work accurately. They also need basic arithmetic skills, good manual dexterity and, because they deal constantly with the public, cashiers should be neat in appearance and be able to deal tactfully and pleasantly with customers. In addition, some firms seek persons who have operated specialized equipment or who have business experience, such as typing or selling.  fl, *  Oil »»l il.  Cashiers are often responsible for large amounts of cash.  For sale by Superintendant of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office Washington, D.C. 20402  Advancement opportunities for cashiers vary. For those working part time, promotion may be to a full-time position. Others advance to head cashier or cash office clerk. In addition, the job offers a good opportunity to learn an employer’s business and so may serve as a steppingstone to a more responsible position. Job Outlook Employment of cashiers is expected to increase faster than the aver­ age for all occupations through the year 2005 due to expanding demand for goods and services by a growing population. Although growth will account for numerous openings, most jobs will result from the need to replace experienced workers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force. As in the past, replacement needs will create a significant number of job openings, for the occu­ pation is large and turnover is much higher than average. Opportuni­ ties for part-time work are expected to continue to be excellent. Workers under the age of 25 traditionally have filled many of the openings in this occupation. This age group, which shrank in num­ bers during the decade of the 1980’s, will rebound but account for a slightly smaller share of the 2005 workforce than in 1990. Thus, employers can be expected to continue efforts to attract and retain workers by offering higher wages, more generous benefits, and more flexible schedules. These efforts are often focused toward non-traditional groups such as retired and disabled persons. Earnings Cashiers have earnings ranging from the minimum wage to several times that amount. Wages tend to be higher in areas where there is intense competition for workers. In establishments covered by Feder­ al law, those beginning at the minimum wage earned $4.25 an hour in 1991. However, employers can pay workers younger than 20 years a lower training wage for up to 6 months. In some States, the minimum wage in many establishments is governed by State law, and where State minimums are higher, the establishment must pay at least that amount. In 1990, median weekly earnings for full-time cashiers were about $215. The middle 50 percent earned between $170 and $291; 10 per­ cent earned below $142; and 10 percent earned above $397. Benefits for full-time cashiers tend to be better than for those working part time. Cashiers often receive health and life insurance and paid vacations. In addition, those working in retail establishments often receive a discount on purchases and those in restaurants may receive free or low-cost meals. Related Occupations Cashiers receive payment for the purchase of goods and services. Other workers with similar duties include food counter clerks, bank tellers, counter and rental clerks, postal service clerks, and sales clerks. Sources of Additional Information Details about employment opportunities are available from local businesses and the local office of the State employment service.  Counter and Rental Clerks (D.O.T. 216.482-030; 249.362-010; .366-010; 295.357-010, -014 and -018; .367-010, -014, and -026; .467-010, -014, and -018; .477-010; 299.367-018; 369.367-010 and -014; .477-014; and .677-010)  Nature of the Work Whether choosing a video tape, dropping off clothes to be drycleaned, or renting a car, we rely on counter and rental clerks to handle these transactions efficiently. Although specific duties vary by establishment, counter and rental clerks are responsible for answering questions, taking orders, receiving payments, and accepting returns. At times, they may also sell items. (Cashiers and retail sales workers, occupations with similar duties, are discussed elsewhere in the Handbook.) Regardless of where they work, counter and rental clerks must be knowledgeable about the company’s services, policies, and proce­  https://fraser.stlouisfed.org Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis  dures. Often, customers are not sure what they want. To assist them, counter and rental clerks may explain what is available, its cost, the rental provisions, and any promotions that are in effect. For example, in the car rental industry, they inform customers about the types of automobiles available and the daily and weekly rental costs. When taking orders, counter and rental clerks use various types of equipment. In some establishments, they write out tickets and order forms. However, computers and bar code scanners are quickly becoming the norm. Most computer systems are user friendly and usually require very little data entry. Scanners “read” the product code and display a description of the item on a computer screen. Clerks must insure, however, that the data on the screen match the actual product. Counter and rental clerks also note any special instructions and check the condition of the merchandise. In drycleaning establish­ ments for example, they inform the customer when the items will be ready. In rental agencies, they insure that customers meet any age or other requirements and state when and in what condition the item must be returned. When customers come to retrieve their clothing or return rented merchandise, counter and rental clerks calculate the fee and accept payment. They may also inspect the item to insure the merchandise has not been damaged. Counter and rental clerks’ duties also vary by the industry in which they are employed. Those employed in supermarkets and gro­ cery stores may help customers select fresh flowers, delicatessen or bakery products, or cosmetics. In shops that rent formal wear, they may fit and measure garments; in video stores, they often make sug­ gestions about which movie the customer might enjoy. Working Conditions Because firms employing counter and rental clerks generally operate at the convenience of their customers, these workers often work night and weekend hours. However, because of this, many employers offer flexible schedules. Many counter and rental clerks work a 40-hour week but nearly one-half are on part-time schedules—usually during rush periods, such as weekends, evenings, and holidays. Working conditions are usually pleasant; most stores and service establishments are clean, well-lighted, and temperature controlled. However, clerks are on their feet much of the time and may be con­ fined behind a small counter area. This job requires constant interac­ tion with the public and can be taxing—especially when things go wrong. Employment Counter and rental clerks held about 215,000 jobs in 1990. About 1 clerk in 3 worked for a laundry or drycleaning establishment. Other large employers included automobile rental firms, equipment rental firms and leasing services, grocery stores, and video rental stores. Counter and rental clerks are employed throughout the country but are concentrated in metropolitan areas where renting and leasing ser­ vices are in greater demand. Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement Counter and rental clerk jobs are primarily entry level and require lit­ tle or no experience and little formal education. However, many employers prefer high school graduates for these positions. In most companies, counter and rental clerks are trained on the job. Clerks usually learn how to operate the equipment and become familiar with the establishment’s policies and procedures under the observation of a more experienced worker. However, some employ­ ers have formal classroom training programs lasting from a few hours to a few weeks. Topics covered in this training usually include a description of the industry and the company, company policies and procedures, equipment operation, sales techniques, and customer ser­ vice. Persons who want to become counter and rental clerks should enjoy working with people and have the ability to deal tactfully with difficult customers. In addition, good oral and written communica­ tion skills are essential. Advancement opportunities vary depending on the size and type of company. However, jobs as counter and rental clerks offer good opportunities for workers to learn about their company’s products 3  Related Occupations Counter and rental clerks take orders and receive payment for ser­ vices rendered. Other workers with similar duties include cashiers, retail sales workers, food counter clerks, postal service clerks, and bank tellers. Sources of Additional Information For more information about opportunities as counter and rental clerks contact: American Rental Association, 1900 19th St., Moline IL 61265.  Insurance Agents and Brokers (D.O.T. 239.267 and 250.257)  Many counter and rental clerks work for laundry or dry-cleaning establishments.  and business practices. These jobs can be steppingstones to more responsible positions, because it is common in many establishments to promote counter and rental clerks into assistant manager positions. Job Outlook Employment in this occupation is expected to increase faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2005 due to anticipated employment growth in the industries where they are concentrated. Despite this growth, however, most job openings will arise from the need to replace experienced workers who transfer to other occupa­ tions or leave the labor force. In recent years, employment in rental and leasing services has sky­ rocketed—creating thousands of new jobs for counter and rental clerks. Like many other occupations in retail trade and food service, workers under the age of 25 traditionally have filled many of the openings in this occupation. This age group which shrank in numbers during the decade of the 1980’s, will rebound but accounts for a slightly smaller share of the 2005 workforce than in 1990. Thus employers can be expected to improve efforts to attract and retain workers and to increase the use of computerized equipment. To attract workers, employers are likely to offer higher wages and more generous benefits. To retain them, more emphasis will be placed on training and advancement opportunities. Earnings Counter and rental clerks typically start at the minimum wage, which, in establishments covered by Federal law, was $4.25 an hour in 1991. Employers can pay workers younger than 20 years a lower training wage for up to 6 months. However, in areas where there is intense competition for workers, wages are often much higher. In addition to their wages, some counter and rental clerks receive commissions based on the number of contracts they complete or services they sell. Retail counter clerks earned a median weekly income of $269 in 1990. The middle 50 percent earned between $197 and $366 a week. The bottom 10 percent earned less than $160; the top 10 percent earned more than $503. Full-time workers typically receive health and life insurance and paid vacation and sick leave. Benefits for counter and rental clerks who work part time tend to be significantly less than for those who work full time. Many companies offer both full- and part-time employees discounts on the services they provide. 4   https://fraser.stlouisfed.org Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis  Nature of the Work Most people have their first contact with an insurance company through an insurance agent or broker. These professionals help indi­ viduals or companies select the right policy for their needs. Insurance agents and brokers sell policies that provide individuals and business­ es with financial protection against loss. They plan for the financial security of individuals, families, and businesses; advise about insur­ ance protection for automobiles, homes, businesses, or other proper­ ties; prepare reports and maintain records; and help policyholders settle insurance claims. Specialists in group policies may help an employer provide employees the opportunity to buy insurance through payroll deductions. Insurance agents may work for one com­ pany or as independent agents selling for several companies. Insur­ ance brokers do not sell for a particular company but place insurance policies for their clients with the company that offers the best rate and coverage. Insurance agents sell one or more of several types of insurance: Life, property/casualty, health, disability, and long-term care. Life insurance agents offer policies that pay survivors when a policyholder dies. Depending on the policyholder’s circumstances, a whole-life policy also can be designed to provide retirement income, funds for the education of children, or other benefits. (Life insurance agents and brokers are sometimes called life underwriters; see the statement on underwriters elsewhere in the Handbook.) Property/casualty insurance agents and brokers sell policies that protect individuals and businesses from financial loss as a result of automobile accidents, fire or theft, or other losses. Property/casualty insurance can also cover workers’ compensation, product liability, or medical malpractice. Many life and property/casualty insurance agents also sell health insurance policies covering the costs of hospi­ tal and medical care or loss of income due to illness or injury. An increasing number of insurance agents and brokers offer com­ prehensive financial planning services to their clients, such as retire­ ment planning counseling. As a result, many insurance agents and brokers are also licensed to sell mutual funds, annuities, and other securities. Since insurance sales agents obtain many new accounts through referrals, it is important that agents maintain regular contact with their clients to ensure their financial needs are being met as personal and business needs change. Developing a satisfied clientele who will recommend an agent’s services to other potential customers is a key to success in this field. Working Conditions Most insurance agents and brokers work in small offices, contacting clients and providing insurance policy information. However, most of their time is spent outside their offices, traveling locally to meet with clients and close sales. They generally arrange their own hours of work, and often schedule evening and weekend appointments for the convenience of clients. Many work more than 40 hours a week. Employment Insurance agents and brokers held about 439,000 jobs in 1990. Many work part time, especially beginners who have other jobs while they  attempt to build up a clientele. Many agents and brokers are selfemployed. While most agents specialize in life insurance, a growing number (called multiline agents) offer life, property/casualty, and health and disability policies. The following tabulation shows the per­ cent distribution of wage and salary jobs by category of insurance. Percent  Total........................................................................................  100  Life insurance............................................................................. Insurance agents, brokers, and services..................................... Fire, marine, and casualty insurance.......................................... Medical service and health insurance......................................... Other industries..........................................................................  46 36 10 4 4  Agents and brokers are employed in cities and towns throughout the country, but most work in or near large population centers. Some insurance agents and brokers are employed in the headquarters of insurance companies, but most work out of local company offices or independent agencies. Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement Although many companies prefer college graduates—particularly those who have majored in business or economics—for jobs selling insurance, some hire high school graduates with potential or proven sales ability or those who have been successful in other types of work. In fact, most entrants have transferred from other occupations. Understandably, they tend to be older, on average, than entrants to other occupations. College training may help the agent or broker grasp the fundamen­ tals and procedures of insurance selling more quickly. Many colleges and universities offer courses in insurance, and some schools offer a bachelor’s degree in insurance. College courses in finance, mathe­ matics, accounting, economics, business law, government, and busi­ ness administration enable the insurance agent or broker to understand how social, marketing, and economic conditions relate to the insurance industry. It is important for insurance agents and bro­ kers to keep current with issues concerning clients. Changes in tax laws, government benefit programs, and other State and Federal regu­ lations can affect how insurance agents conduct business. Courses in psychology, sociology, and public speaking can prove useful in improving sales techniques. In addition, computer literacy is very important. The use of computers to provide instantaneous informa­ tion on a wide variety of financial products has greatly improved agents’ and brokers’ efficiency and enabled them to devote more time to clients. All insurance agents and brokers must obtain a license in the States where they plan to sell insurance. In most States, licenses are issued only to applicants who complete specified courses and then pass writ­ ten examinations covering insurance fundamentals and the State  Most insurance agents and brokers work in small offices.  https://fraser.stlouisfed.org Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis  insurance laws. Agents and brokers who plan to sell mutual funds and other securities must also obtain a separate securities license. New agents usually receive training at the agencies where they work and, frequently, also at the insurance company’s home office. Beginners sometimes attend company-sponsored classes to prepare for examina­ tions. Others study on their own and accompany experienced agents when they call on prospective clients. As the diversity of financial products sold by insurance agents and brokers increases, employers are placing greater emphasis on continuing professional education. Agents and brokers can hone their practical selling skills and broaden their knowledge of insur­ ance and other financial services and planning by taking courses at colleges and universities and attending institutes, conferences, and seminars sponsored by insurance organizations. A number of orga­ nizations offer professional designation programs which certify expertise in specialties such as life, health, or property and casualty insurance or financial consulting. Professional designation assures clients and employers that an agent has a thorough understanding of the relevant specialty. Many professional societies now require agents to commit to continuing education in order to retain designa­ tion. A growing number of States are also making continuing educa­ tion mandatory. Insurance agents and brokers should be enthusiastic, outgoing, self-confident, disciplined, hard working, and able to communicate effectively. They should be able to inspire customer confidence. Some companies give personality tests to prospective employees because personality attributes are important in sales work. Since they usually work without supervision, agents and brokers must be able to plan their time well and have the initiative to locate new clients. An insurance agent who shows sales ability and leadership may become a sales manager in a local office. A few advance to agency superintendent or executive positions. However, many who have built up a good clientele prefer to remain in sales work. Some, particularly in the property/casualty field, establish their own independent agen­ cies or brokerage firms. Job Outlook Employment of insurance agents and brokers is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through the year 2005. Most job openings are expected to result from the need to replace agents and brokers who leave the occupation. Many beginners find it difficult to establish a sufficiently large clientele in this highly com­ petitive business. Opportunities should be best for ambitious people who enjoy sales work and who develop expertise in a wide range of insurance and financial services. Future demand for agents and brokers depends on the volume of sales of insurance and other financial products. The growing number of working women should increase insurance sales. Rising incomes as well as a concern for financial security also may stimulate sales of mutual funds, variable annuities, and other financial products and ser­ vices. Growing demand for long-term healthcare and pension benefits for retirees—an increasing proportion of the population—should spur insurance sales. Sales of property/casualty insurance should rise as more people seek coverage not only for their homes, cars, and valu­ ables, but also for expensive, advanced technology products such as home computers. As new businesses emerge and existing firms expand coverage, sales of commercial insurance should increase. In addition, complex types of commercial coverage such as product lia­ bility, workers’ compensation, employee benefits, and pollution lia­ bility insurance are increasingly in demand. Employment of agents and brokers will not keep pace with the ris­ ing level of insurance sales because many companies and agencies are diversifying their marketing techniques to include some direct mail or telephone sales, as well as other methods. Also, customer ser­ vice representatives are increasingly assuming some sales functions, such as expanding accounts, and, occasionally, generating new accounts. The trend toward multiline agents, self-insurance, and group policies also will cause employment to rise more slowly than the volume of insurance sales. In addition, large firms may increas­ ingly hire risk managers to analyze their insurance needs and select the best policies. 5  Most individuals and businesses consider insurance a necessity, regardless of economic conditions. Therefore, agents are not likely to face unemployment because of a recession. Earnings The median annual income of salaried insurance sales workers was $26,700 in 1990. The lowest 10 percent earned $14,900 or less, while the top 10 percent earned over $58,700. Most independent agents are paid on a commission only basis, whereas sales workers who are employees of an agency may be paid in one of three ways: Salary only, salary plus commission, or salary plus bonus. Bonuses are usu­ ally awarded when employer agents meet their production goals or when an agency’s profit goals are met. The amount of the commis­ sion depends on the type and amount of insurance sold, and whether the transaction is a new policy or a renewal. Some agents involved with financial planning receive an hourly fee for their services rather than a commission. Earnings usually increase rapidly with experience. According to a 1989 survey of the insurance industry conducted by the Life Insur­ ance Marketing Research Association, agents in their second year averaged $20,100, agents in their third year averaged $27,700, agents in their fourth year averaged $30,200, while agents with 5 or more years experience averaged $50,300 annually. Sales agents who work primarily for one agency (captive agents) may also obtain a broker’s license, enabling them to earn additional income on a part-time basis. Agency-paid benefits to sales agent employees generally include vacations and holidays, continuing education, group insurance plans, and office space and support services. Many agencies also pay for automobile and transportation expenses, conventions and meetings, promotion and marketing expenses, and retirement plans. Independent agents working for insurance agencies receive fewer benefits. They are typically responsible for their own travel and automobile expenses, life insurance and retirement plans, and receive no paid holidays or vaca­ tions, but their agencies often pay for office space and support ser­ vices, education, and promotion and marketing expenses. Related Occupations Other workers who sell financial products or services include real estate agents and brokers, securities and financial services sales rep­ resentatives, financial advisors, estate planning specialists, and manu­ facturers’ sales workers. Sources of Additional Information General occupational information about insurance agents and brokers is available from the home office of many life and casualty insurance companies. Information, on State licensing requirements may be obtained from the department of insurance at any State capital. Information about a career as a life insurance agent or broker also is available from: »■ National Association of Life Underwriters, 1922 F St. NW., Washington, DC 20006.  For information about insurance sales careers in independent agen­ cies and brokerages, contact: Independent Insurance Agents of America, 127 South Peyton St., Alexan­ dria, VA 22314. National Association of Professional Insurance Agents, 400 N. Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314.  Manufacturers’ and Wholesale Sales Representatives (List of D.O.T. codes available on request from the Chief, Division of Occu­ pational Outlook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Washington, DC 20212.)  Nature of the Work A bag of potato chips, a piece of construction equipment, a romance novel. These and thousands of other products are bought and sold each day. Manufacturers’ and wholesale sales representatives are an important part of this process. They market their company’s products 6   https://fraser.stlouisfed.org Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis  to manufacturers, wholesale and retail establishments, government agencies, and other institutions. Regardless of the type of product they sell, the primary job of these sales representatives is to interest wholesale and retail buyers and purchasing agents in their merchan­ dise. (Retail sales workers, who sell directly to consumers, are dis­ cussed elsewhere in the Handbook.) Depending on where they work, these sales representatives have dif­ ferent job titles. Many of those representing manufacturers are referred to as manufacturers’ representatives and those employed by whole­ salers generally are called sales representatives. Those selling techni­ cal products, for both manufacturers and wholesalers, are usually called industrial sales workers or sales engineers. In addition to those employed directly by firms, manufacturers’ agents are self-employed sales workers who contract their services to all types of companies. Manufacturers’ and wholesale sales representatives spend much of their time traveling to and visiting with prospective buyers. During a sales call, they discuss the customers’ needs and suggest how their merchandise or services can meet those needs. They may show sam­ ples or catalogs that describe items that their company stocks and inform customers about prices, availability, and how their products can save money and improve productivity. In addition, because of the vast number of manufacturers and wholesalers selling similar prod­ ucts, they try to emphasize the unique qualities of the products and services offered by their company. They also take orders and resolve any problems or complaints with the merchandise. These sales representatives may have additional duties as well. For example, sales engineers, who are among the most highly trained sales workers, typically sell products whose installation and optimal use require a great deal of technical expertise and support—products such as material handling equipment, numerical-control machinery, and mainframe computers. In addition to providing information on their firm’s products, these workers help prospective buyers with technical problems. For example, they may recommend improved materials and machinery for a firm’s manufacturing process, draw up plans of proposed machinery layouts, and estimate cost savings from the use of their equipment. They then present this information and negotiate the sale, a process that may take several months. In addi­ tion, they may work with engineers in their own companies, adapting products to a customer’s special needs. Increasingly, sales representatives who lack technical expertise work as a team with a technical expert. For example, a sales represen­ tative will make the preliminary contact with customers, introduce his or her company’s product, and close the sale. However, the technical­ ly trained person will attend the sales presentation to explain and answer technical questions and concerns. In this way, the sales repre­ sentative is able to spend more time maintaining and soliciting accounts and less time acquiring technical knowledge. After the sale, sales representatives may make frequent followup visits to ensure that the equipment is functioning properly and may even help train customers’ employees to operate and maintain new equipment. Those selling consumer goods often suggest how and where their merchandise should be displayed. Working with retailers, they may help arrange promotional programs and advertising. Obtaining new accounts is an important part of this job. Sales rep­ resentatives follow leads suggested by other clients, from advertise­ ments in trade journals, and from participation in trade shows and conferences. At times, they make “cold calls” upon potential clients. Often, this may require meeting with and entertaining prospective clients during evenings and weekends. Sales representatives also analyze sales statistics, prepare reports, and handle administrative duties, such as filing their expense account reports, scheduling appointments, and making travel plans. They also study literature about new and existing products and monitor the sales, prices, and new products of their competitors. In addition to all these duties, manufacturers’ agents must manage their businesses. This requires organizational skills as well as knowl­ edge of accounting, marketing, and administration. Working Conditions Some manufacturers’ and wholesale sales representatives have large territories and do considerable traveling. Because a sales region may  Jobs for manufacturers' and wholesale sales representatives are likely to be most plentiful in wholesale firms. cover several States, they may be away from home for several days or weeks at a time. Others work near their “home base” and do most of their traveling by automobile. Due to the nature of the work and the amount of travel, sales representatives typically work more than 40 hours per week. Although the hours are long and often irregular, most sales repre­ sentatives have the freedom to determine their own schedule. As a result, they may be able to arrange their appointments so that they can have time off when they want it. Dealing with different types of people can be stimulating but demanding. In addition, sales representatives often face competition from representatives of other companies as well as from fellow work­ ers. Companies may set goals or quotas that the representatives are expected to meet. Because their earnings depend upon commissions, manufacturers’ agents are also under the added pressure to maintain and expand their clientele. Employment Manufacturers’ and wholesale sales representatives held about 1,944,000 jobs in 1990. Two of every three worked in wholesale trade—mostly for distributors of machinery and equipment, groceries and related products, and motor vehicles and parts. Others were employed in manufacturing and mining. Due to the diversity of prod­ ucts and services sold, employment opportunities are available in every part of the country. In addition to those working directly for a firm, many were selfemployed manufacturers’ agents who worked for a straight commis­ sion based on the value of their sales. However, these workers generally gained experience and recognition with a manufacturer or wholesaler prior to going into business for themselves. Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement The background needed for sales jobs varies by product line and mar­ ket. A college degree is increasingly desirable for a job as a sales rep­ resentative. Nevertheless, many employers hire individuals with previous sales experience who do not have a college degree. In fact, for many consumer products, such as food, sales ability and familiari­ ty with brands are more important than a degree. Firms selling indus­ trial products, on the other hand, often require a degree in science or engineering in addition to industry experience. As a result, most entrants to this occupation, even those with college degrees, transfer from other occupations and tend to be older than entrants to other occupations. Many companies have formal training programs for beginning sales representatives that last up to 2 years. In some programs, trainees rotate among jobs in plants and offices to learn all phases of production, installation, and distribution of the product. In others, trainees take formal classroom instruction at the plant, followed by on-the-job training under the supervision of a field sales manager. In some firms, new workers are trained by accompanying more  https://fraser.stlouisfed.org Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis  experienced workers on their sales calls. As these workers gain famil­ iarity with the firm’s products and clients, they are given increasing responsibility until they are eventually assigned their own territory. These workers must stay abreast of new merchandise and the changing needs of their customers. They may attend trade shows where new products are displayed or conferences and conventions where they meet with other sales representatives and clients to dis­ cuss new product developments. In addition, many companies spon­ sor meetings of their entire sales force where presentations are made on sales performance, product development, and profitability. Manufacturers’ and wholesale sales representatives should be goal oriented, persuasive, and able to work independently. A pleasant per­ sonality and appearance, the ability to get along well with people, and problem-solving skills also are important. In addition, patience and perseverance are needed because completing a sale can take several months. Because these workers may be on their feet for long periods and may have to carry heavy sample cases, some physical stamina is necessary. Sales representatives should also enjoy traveling because much of their time is spent visiting current and prospective clients. Frequently, promotion takes the form of an assignment to a larger account or territory where commissions are likely to be greater. Expe­ rienced sales representatives may move into jobs as sales trainers— workers who train new employees on selling techniques and company policies and procedures. Those who have good sales records and leadership ability may advance to sales supervisor or dis­ trict manager. In addition to advancement opportunities within a firm, some go into business for themselves as manufacturers’ agents. Others find opportunities in buying, purchasing, advertising, or marketing research. Job Outlook Employment of manufacturers’ and wholesale sales representatives is expected to increase about as fast as the average for all occupations through the year 2005 as the economy expands and as demand for durable and nondurable goods increases. In addition to growth arising from increasing demand for these products, many openings will result each year as experienced sales workers transfer to other occupations, retire, or stop working for other reasons. Although overall employment is expected to increase significantly, the outlook varies by industry and by type of sales job. Jobs are likely to be most plentiful in wholesale firms, where the majority are already employed. A growing number of firms will rely on whole­ salers and manufacturers’ agents to market their products as a way to control their costs and expand their list of customers. However, the nature of many products does not allow them to be marketed through wholesalers. Those interested in this occupation should keep in mind that direct selling opportunities in manufacturing are likely to be best for products with strong demand, such as consumer products or com­ puters and related supplies and equipment. Opportunities for manufacturers’ agents will also rise in response to the anticipated increase in contracting out of the sales function. In addition, these workers will benefit from the increased consumption of imported goods because it is often more cost efficient for importers to delegate their sales responsibilities than to hire a sales force. How­ ever, opportunities for self-employment vary by industry; some industries such as the pharmaceutical industry traditionally do not use manufacturers’ agents. Although most manufacturers’ representatives work full time, companies will increasingly use part-time representatives. As the work force changes, firms anticipate difficulty in finding workers with sufficient expertise and experience. To fill this gap, many estab­ lishments are using nontraditional workers—usually retirees looking for part-time work—as an integral part of their sales force. Although overall opportunities are expected to be good, those entering this field should remember that sales are affected by chang­ ing economic conditions and consumer preferences. As a result, employment opportunities and earnings may fluctuate from year to year. Prospects will be best for those with the appropriate knowledge or technical expertise as well as the personal traits necessary for suc­ cessful selling. 7  Earnings Compensation methods vary significantly by the type of firm and product sold. However, most employers use a combination of salary and commission or salary plus bonus. Commissions are usually based on the amount of sales, whereas bonuses may depend on individual performance, on the performance of all sales workers in the group or district, or on the company’s performance. Median annual earnings of full-time manufacturers’ and wholesale sales representatives were about $31,000 in 1990. The middle 50 per­ cent earned between $21,600 and $44,100 per year. The bottom 10 percent earned less than $15,500; the top 10 percent earned more than $59,000 per year. Earnings vary by experience and the type of goods or services sold, as shown in table 1. Table 1. Compensation by position and industry group  Sales trainee..... Middle-level.... Top-level..........  Consumer goods  Industrial goods  Services  $23,297 37,882 63,355  $28,455 39,614 54,573  $22,506 35,082 56,764  Compensation includes base salary, commission, and bonuses. SOURCE:  Sales & Marketing Management, 1990 Survey of Selling Cost  In addition to their earnings, sales representatives working for an employer are usually reimbursed for expenses such as transportation costs, meals, hotels, and entertaining customers. They also often receive benefits such as health and life insurance, a pension plan, vacation and sick leave, personal use of a company car, and “frequent flyer” mileage. Some companies offer incentives such as free vaca­ tion trips or gifts for outstanding sales workers. Unlike those working directly for a manufacturer or wholesaler, manufacturers’ agents work strictly on commission. Depending on the type of product they are selling, their experience in the field, and the number of clients, their earnings can be significantly higher or lower than those working in direct sales. In addition, because manu­ facturers’ agents are self-employed, they must pay their own travel and entertainment expenses as well as provide for their own benefits, which can be a significant cost. Related Occupations Manufacturers’ and wholesale sales representatives must have sales ability and knowledge of the products they sell. Workers in other occupations that require similar skills are retail, services, real estate, insurance, and securities sales workers, as well as wholesale and retail buyers. Sources of Additional Information Information on manufacturers’ agents is available from: «■ Manufacturers’ Agents National Association, 23016 Mill Creek Rd., P.O. Box 3467, Laguna Hills, CA 92654.  Real Estate Agents, Brokers, and Appraisers (D.O.T. 191.267-010, 250.157, .357 except -022)  Nature of the Work The purchase or sale of a home, or an investment property, is not only one of the most important financial events in peoples’ lives, but one of the most complex transactions as well. As a result, people general­ ly seek the help of real estate agents, brokers, and appraisers when buying or selling real estate. Real estate agents and brokers have a thorough knowledge of the housing market in their community. They know which neighborhoods will best fit their clients’ needs and budgets. They are familiar with 8  https://fraser.stlouisfed.org Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis  local zoning and tax laws, and know where to obtain financing. Agents and brokers also act as a medium for price negotiations between buyer and seller. Brokers are independent business people who not only sell real estate owned by others, but also rent and manage properties for a fee. In closing sales, brokers often provide buyers with information on loans to finance their purchase. They also arrange for title searches and for meetings between buyers and sellers when details of the transactions are agreed upon and the new owners take possession. A broker’s knowledge, resourcefulness, and creativity in arranging financing that is most favorable to the prospective buyer often mean the difference between success and failure in closing a sale. In some cases, agents assume the responsibilities in closing sales, but, in many areas, this is done by lawyers or lenders. Brokers also manage their own offices, advertise properties, and handle other business mat­ ters. Some combine other types of work, such as the sale of insurance or the practice of law, with their real estate business. Real estate agents generally are independent sales workers who provide their services to a licensed broker on a contract basis. In return, the broker pays the agent a portion of the commission earned from property sold through the firm by the agent. Today, relatively few agents receive salaries as employees of a broker or realty firm. Instead, most derive their income solely from commissions. In selling real estate, brokers and agents generally first meet with potential buyers to get a feeling for the type of home they would like and can afford. Before showing properties to the buyer, it is very important that the broker or agent knows all the features of the prop­ erty and understands the wants and needs of the buyer. Then, they take the buyer to see a number of homes that are likely to meet the needs and income of the buyer. Because buying real estate is such an important part of the average person’s life, agents may have to meet several times with a prospective buyer to discuss properties. In answering questions, agents emphasize those selling points that are likely to be most important to the buyer. To a young family looking at a house, for example, they may point out the convenient floor plan and the fact that schools and shopping centers are close by. To a potential investor seeking the tax advantages of owning a rental prop­ erty, they may point out the proximity to the city and the ease of find­ ing a renter. If bargaining over price becomes necessary, agents must carefully follow the seller’s instructions and may have to present counteroffers in order to get the best possible price. Once the contract has been signed by both parties, the real estate broker or agent must see to it that all special terms of the contract are carried out before the closing date. For example, if the seller has agreed to a home inspection or a termite and radon inspection, the agent must make sure that this is done. Also, if the seller has agreed to any repairs, the broker or agent must see to it that they have been made, otherwise the sale cannot be completed. While many other details are handled by loan officers, attorneys, or other persons, the agent must check to make sure that they are done. There is more to agents’ and brokers’ jobs, however, than just making a sale. Because they must have properties to sell, they spend a significant amount of time obtaining “listings” (owner agreements to place properties for sale with the firm). They spend much time on the telephone exploring leads gathered from various sources, includ­ ing personal contacts. When listing property for sale, agents and bro­ kers make comparisons with similar properties that have been sold recently to determine its fair market value. Most real estate agents and brokers sell residential property. A few, usually in large firms or specialized small firms, sell commercial, industrial, agricultural, or other types of real estate. Each specialty requires knowledge of that particular type of property and clientele. Selling or leasing business property, for example, requires an under­ standing of leasing practices, business trends, and location needs. Agents who sell or lease industrial properties must know about trans­ portation, utilities, and labor supply. To sell residential properties, the agent must know the location of schools, religious institutions, shop­ ping facilities, and public transportation, and be familiar with tax rates and insurance coverage. Agents and brokers increasingly use computers to generate lists of properties for sale, their location and description, and to identify available sources of financing.  Real estate transactions involve substantial financial commitments, so parties to the transactions usually seek the advice of real estate appraisers, objective experts who do not have a vested interest in the property. An appraisal is an unbiased estimate of the quality, value, and best use of a specific property. Appraisals may be used by prospective sellers to set a competitive price, by a lending institution to estimate the market value of a property as a condition for a mort­ gage loan, or by local governments to determine the assessed value of a property for tax purposes. Many real estate appraisers are employ­ ees of banks, savings and loan associations, mortgage companies, and multiservice real estate companies, while others work for indepen­ dent real estate appraisal firms that appraise property for a fee. During an inspection, real estate appraisers evaluate the quality of the construction, the overall condition of the property, and its func­ tional design. They gather information on properties by taking mea­ surements, interviewing persons familiar with the properties’ history, and searching public records of sales, leases, assessments, and other transactions. They then estimate the present cost of reproducing any structures on the properties and how much the value of structures may have depreciated over time. Taking into consideration the loca­ tion of the properties, current market conditions, and real estate trends or impending changes that could influence the future value of the properties, appraisers arrive at estimates of their value. Depend­ ing on the purpose of the appraisal, they may estimate the market value of the property, the insurable value, the investment value, or another kind of value. Appraisers often prepare formal reports that document their findings. Real estate appraisers often specialize in certain types of proper­ ties. Most appraise only homes, but others specialize in appraising apartment or office buildings, shopping centers, or a variety of other types of commercial, industrial, or agricultural properties. Working Conditions Although real estate agents, brokers, and appraisers generally work in offices, much of their time is spent outside the office—showing prop­ erties to customers, analyzing properties for sale, meeting with prospective clients, researching the state of the market, inspecting properties for appraisal, and performing a wide range of other duties. Brokers provide office space, but agents generally furnish their own automobiles.  Real estate agents spend much time on the telephone exploring listing leads.  https://fraser.stlouisfed.org Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis  Agents, brokers, and appraisers often work more than a standard 40-hour week; almost one-half worked 50 hours or more a week in 1990. They often work evenings and weekends to suit the conve­ nience of their clients. Employment Real estate agents, brokers, and appraisers held about 413,000 jobs in 1990. Many worked part time, combining their real estate activities with other careers. Most were self-employed, working on a commis­ sion basis. Most real estate and appraisal firms are relatively small; indeed, some are a one-person business. Some large real estate firms have several hundred real estate agents operating out of many branch offices. Many brokers have franchise agreements with national or regional real estate organizations. Under this type of arrangement, similar to many fast-food restaurant operations, the broker pays a fee in exchange for the privilege of using the more widely known name of the parent organization. Although franchised brokers often receive help in training salespeople and in running their offices, they bear the ultimate responsibility for the success or failure of the firm. Real estate is sold and appraised in all areas, but employment is concentrated in large urban areas and in smaller but rapidly growing communities. Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement Real estate agents and brokers must be licensed in every State and in the District of Columbia. All States require prospective agents to be a high school graduate, be at least 18 years old, and pass a written test. The examination—more comprehensive for brokers than for agents—includes questions on basic real estate transactions and on laws affecting the sale of property. Most States require candidates for the general sales license to complete at least 30 hours of classroom instruction and those seeking the broker’s license to complete 90 hours of formal training in addition to a specified amount of experi­ ence in selling real estate (generally 1 to 3 years). Some States waive the experience requirements for the broker’s license for applicants who have a bachelor’s degree in real estate. A small but increasing number of States require that agents have 60 hours of college cred­ it—roughly the equivalent of an associate degree. State licenses gen­ erally must be renewed every year or two, usually without reexamination. Many States, however, require continuing education for license renewal. The Federal Government requires that appraisers of most types of real estate be State licensed or certified. State requirements for appraisers must meet Federal standards, but States are free to set more stringent requirements. Appraisers must be “certified” to be able to appraise property involved in any federally related transac­ tion of $ 1 million or more. Formal courses, appraisal experience, and a satisfactory score on an examination are needed to be certified, but college education may be substituted for a portion of the experience requirement. “Licensed” appraisers, who meet somewhat less strin­ gent requirements, may appraise residential properties containing up to four units. Individuals enter real estate appraisal from a variety of back­ grounds. Traditionally, persons enter from real estate sales, manage­ ment, and finance positions. However, a growing number of people are entering appraiser jobs directly from college. College courses in real estate, finance and business administration, economics, and English are helpful. Trainee appraisers usually assist experienced appraisers until they become licensed. Persons who take real estate agent, broker, and appraiser positions are older, on average, than entrants to most other occupations. Many homemakers and retired persons are attracted to real estate sales by the flexible and part-time work schedules characteristic of this field and may enter, leave, and later reenter the occupation, depending on the strength of the real estate market, on family responsibilities, and on other personal circumstances. In addition to those who are entering or reentering the labor force, some transfer into real estate jobs from a wide range of occupations, including clerical and other sales jobs. As real estate transactions have become more complex, many firms have turned to college graduates to fill positions. A laige number of 9  agents, brokers, and appraisers have some college training, and the number of college graduates selling real estate has risen substantially in recent years. However, personality traits are fully as important as academic background. Brokers look for applicants who possess such characteristics as a pleasant personality, honesty, and a neat appear­ ance. Maturity, tact, and enthusiasm for the job are required in order to motivate prospective customers in this keenly competitive field. Agents also should be well organized and detail oriented as well as have a good memory for names and faces and business details, such as taxes, zoning regulations, and local land-use laws. Persons interested in beginning jobs as real estate agents often apply in their own communities, where their knowledge of local neighborhoods is an advantage. The beginner usually learns the prac­ tical aspects of the job, including the use of computers to locate or list available properties or identify available sources of financing, under the direction of an experienced agent. Many firms offer formal training programs for both beginners and experienced agents. Larger firms generally offer more extensive pro­ grams than smaller firms. Over 1,000 universities, colleges, and junior colleges offer courses in real estate. At some, a student can earn an associate or bachelor’s degree with a major in real estate; sev­ eral offer advanced degrees. Many local real estate boards that are members of the National Association of Realtors sponsor courses covering the fundamentals and legal aspects of the field. Advanced courses in appraisal, mortgage financing, property development and management, and other subjects also are available through various National Association of Realtor affiliates. Many real estate appraisers voluntarily earn professional designa­ tions that represent formal recognition of their professional compe­ tence and achievements. A number of appraiser organizations have programs that, through a combination of experience, professional education, and examinations, lead to the award of such designations. Among the more common are various designations awarded by the Appraisal Institute and the American Society of Appraisers. Trained and experienced agents can advance in many large firms to sales or general manager. Persons who have received their broker’s license may open their own offices. Others with experience and train­ ing in estimating property value may become real estate appraisers, and people familiar with operating and maintaining rental properties may become property or real estate managers. Agents, brokers, and apprais­ ers who gain general experience in real estate and a thorough knowl­ edge of business conditions and property values in their localities may enter mortgage financing or real estate investment counseling. Job Outlook Employment of real estate agents, brokers, and appraisers is expect­ ed to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through the year 2005 as a result of the growing volume of sales of residen­ tial and commercial properties. However, most job openings will occur each year as workers transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force. Because turnover is high, real estate sales positions should continue to be relatively easy to obtain. Not everyone is suc­ cessful in this highly competitive field, however; many beginners become discouraged by their inability to close a sufficient number of sales and subsequently leave the occupation. Well-trained, ambitious people who enjoy selling should have the best chance for success. Employment growth in this field will stem primarily from increased demand for home purchases and rental units. Shifts in the age distribution of the population over the next 15 years will result in a large number of persons in the prime working ages (25-54 years old) with careers and family responsibilities. This is the most geo­ graphically mobile group in our society and the one that traditional­ ly makes most of the home purchases. As their incomes rise, these people also may be expected to invest in additional real estate. Employment of real estate agents, brokers, and appraisers is sen­ sitive to swings in the economy. During periods of declining eco­ nomic activity and tight credit, the volume of sales and the resulting demand for sales workers may decline. During these periods, the earnings of agents, brokers, and appraisers decline, and many work fewer hours or leave the occupation. 10   https://fraser.stlouisfed.org Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis  Earnings Commissions on sales are the main source of earnings of real estate agents and brokers—few receive a salary. The rate of commission varies according to the type of property and its value; the percentage paid on the sale of farm and commercial properties or unimproved land usually is higher than that paid for selling a home. Commissions may be divided among several agents and brokers. The broker and the agent in the firm that obtained the listing general­ ly share their part of the commission when the property is sold; the broker and the agent in the firm that made the sale also generally share their part of the commission. Although an agent’s share varies greatly from one firm to another, often it is about half of the total amount received by the firm. The agent who both lists and sells the property maximizes his or her commission. According to a National Association of Realtors survey, the medi­ an income of full-time real estate agents was about $19,000 a year in 1990. Real estate brokers had a median gross personal income (after expenses) of $50,000 a year. The most successful agents and brokers earn considerably more. Some firms, especially the large ones, fur­ nish group life, health, and accident insurance. Income usually increases as an agent gains experience, but indi­ vidual ability, economic conditions, and the type and location of the property also affect earnings. Sales workers who are active in com­ munity organizations and local real estate boards can broaden their contacts and increase their earnings. A beginner’s earnings often are irregular because a few weeks or even months may go by without a sale. Although some brokers allow an agent a drawing account against future earnings, this practice is not usual with new employ­ ees. The beginner, therefore, should have enough money to live on for about 6 months or until commissions increase. Related Occupations Selling expensive items such as homes requires maturity, tact, and a sense of responsibility. Other sales workers who find these character traits important in their work include automotive sales workers, secu­ rities and financial services sales workers, insurance agents and bro­ kers, yacht brokers, travel agents, and manufacturers’ representatives. Other appraisers specialize in performing many types of appraisals besides real estate, including aircraft, antiques and fine arts, business valuations, and yachts. Sources of Additional Information Details on licensing requirements for real estate agents, brokers, and appraisers are available from most local real estate and appraiser organizations or from the State real estate commission or board. For more information about opportunities in real estate work, contact; National Association of Realtors, 875 North Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.  Information on careers and licensing and certification requirements in real estate appraising is available from: »■ Appraisal Institute, 875 North Michigan Ave., Suite 2400, Chicago, IL 60611-1980. »■ American Society of Appraisers, P.O. Box 17265, Washington, DC 20041.  Retail Sales Workers (List of D.O.T. codes available on request from the Chief, Division of Occu­ pational Outlook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Washington, DC 20212.)  Nature of the Work Millions of dollars are spent each day on all types of merchandise— everything from sweaters and cosmetics to lumber and plumbing sup­ plies. Sales workers are employed by virtually every type of retailer to assist customers in the selection and purchase of these items. Whether selling shoes, computer equipment, or clothing, a sales worker’s primary job is to interest customers in the merchandise. This may be done by describing the product’s features, demonstrating its use, or showing various models and colors. For some jobs, particular­ ly those selling expensive and complex items, special knowledge or  skills are needed. Workers who sell personal computers, for example, must have sufficient knowledge of electronics to explain to customers the features of various brands and models, the meaning of manufac­ turers’ specifications, and the types of software that are available. In addition to selling, most retail sales workers make out sales checks; receive cash, check, and charge payments; bag or package purchases; and give change and receipts. Depending on the hours they work, they may have to open or close the cash register. This may include counting the money in the cash register; separating charge slips, coupons, and exchange vouchers; and making deposits at the cash office. Sales workers are often held responsible for the contents of their register, and repeated shortages are cause for dismissal in many organizations. Sales workers also handle returns and exchanges of merchandise, perform gift wrapping services, and keep their work areas neat. In addi­ tion, they may help stock shelves or racks, arrange for mailing or deliv­ ery of a purchase, mark price tags, take inventory, and prepare displays. Sales workers must be aware of any promotions the store is spon­ soring and know the store's policies and procedures, especially on returns and exchanges. Also, they often must recognize possible security risks and know how to handle such situations. Consumers often form their impressions of a store by its sales force. The retail industry is very competitive and, increasingly, employers are stressing the importance of providing courteous and efficient service. When a customer wants an item that is not on the sales floor, for example, the sales worker may check the stockroom and, if there are none there, place a special order or call another store to locate the item. To provide better customer service, some firms employ personal shoppers. Some personal shoppers assist consumers in purchasing a particular item. For example, personal shoppers employed in depart­ ment stores often assist customers in updating their wardrobes. Oth­ ers actually choose the item for the client based on information provided. For example, they may buy groceries and arrange for their delivery for people confined to their homes. Although most sales workers have many duties and responsibili­ ties, in jobs selling standardized articles such as food, hardware, linens, and housewares, they often do little more than take payments and wrap purchases. (Cashiers, who have similar job duties, are dis­ cussed elsewhere in the Handbook.) Working Conditions Most sales workers in retail trade work in clean, comfortable, welllighted stores. However, they often stand for long periods and often need supervisory approval when they want to leave the sales floor. On the other hand, some do not work in stores. The 5-day, 40-hour week is the exception rather than the rule in retail trade. Most salespersons can expect to work during some evening and weekend hours and longer than normal hours may be scheduled during Christmas and other peak periods. In addition, most retailers restrict the use of vacation time from Thanksgiving until early January. This job can be rewarding for those who enjoy working with peo­ ple. Patience is required, however, when the work is repetitious and the customers rude. Employment Retail sales workers held about 4,754,000 jobs in 1990. They worked in stores ranging from small specialty shops employing several work­ ers to the giant department store with hundreds of salespersons. In addition, some were self-employed representatives of direct sales companies and mail-order houses. The largest employers of retail sales workers, however, are department stores, apparel and acces­ sories stores, grocery stores, and car dealers. This occupation offers many opportunities for part-time work and is especially appealing to students, retirees, and others looking to sup­ plement their income. However, most of those selling “big ticket” items, such as cars, furniture, and electronic equipment, work full time and have substantial experience. Because retail stores are found in every city and town, employment is distributed geographically in much the same way as the population.  https://fraser.stlouisfed.org Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis  wmm  SSBf*§  Salesworkers assist customers with their purchases. Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement There usually are no formal education requirements for this type of work—in fact, many people get their first job in retail sales. Employ­ ers look for persons who enjoy working with people and have the tact and patience to deal with difficult customers. Among other desirable characteristics are an interest in sales work, a neat appearance, and the ability to communicate clearly. In addition, some employers may conduct a background check before hiring—especially for jobs in selling high-priced items. In most small stores, an experienced employee or the proprietor instructs newly hired sales personnel in making out sales checks and operating the cash register. In larger stores, training programs are more formal and usually are conducted over several days. Initially, trainees are taught how to make cash, check, and charge sales. Next, they are instructed on returns and special orders. Other topics usually included are customer service, security, and the store’s policies and procedures. Depending on the type of product they are selling, they may be given specialized training. For example, those working in cosmetics receive instruction on the types of products available and for whom they would be most beneficial. This training is often pro­ vided by a manufacturer’s representative. As salespersons gain experience and seniority, they usually move to positions of greater responsibility and are given their choice of departments. This often means moving to areas with potentially high­ er earnings and commissions. The highest earnings potential is usual­ ly found in selling big-ticket items. This work often requires the most knowledge of the product and the greatest talent for persuasion. Traditionally, capable sales workers without a college degree could advance to management positions. However, a college education is becoming increasingly important for management jobs. Large retail businesses generally prefer to hire college graduates as management trainees. Despite this trend, capable employees without a college degree should still be able to advance to administrative or supervisory work in large stores. Opportunities for advancement vary in small stores. In some estab­ lishments, advancement opportunities are limited because one person, often the owner, does most of the managerial work. In others, howev­ er, some sales workers are promoted to assistant managers. Retail selling experience may be an asset when applying for sales positions with larger retailers or in other industries, such as financial services, wholesale trade, or manufacturing. Job Outlook Employment of retail sales workers is expected to increase faster than the average for all workers through the year 2005 due to anticipated growth in retail sales. In addition, numerous job openings will be cre­ ated as sales workers transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force. As in the past, replacement needs will generate an exceptional­ ly large number of sales jobs because the occupation is large and turnover is much higher than average. There will continue to be many opportunities for part-time workers, and demand will be strong for 11  temporary workers during peak selling periods such as the Christmas season. Retail trade has always been a very competitive industry—tradi­ tionally dominated by large department stores. Recently, however, consumers have been doing more of their shopping at specialty stores, discounters, and nontraditional retailers—catalog, television, and telephone shopping services. To combat this, many department stores have renewed their emphasis on customer service and increased the number of sales and other promotions. Although increased sales volume by discounters and other nonstore retailers is expected to slow demand for sales workers, this should be partially offset by the increased demand for these workers by some department and specialty stores as they strive to achieve better customer service and satisfaction. Job opportunities should be best in these establish­ ments. During recessions, sales volume and the resulting demand for sales workers generally decline. Purchases of costly items such as cars, appliances, and furniture tend to be postponed during difficult eco­ nomic times. In areas of high unemployment, sales of all types of goods may decline. However, since turnover of sales workers is usu­ ally very high, employers often can cut employment simply by not replacing all those who leave. Workers under the age of 25 traditionally have filled many of the openings in this occupation. However, this age group is projected to decline through the year 2005. In fact, employers in many areas are already facing a shortage of qualified applicants. As a result, employ­ ers can be expected to improve efforts to attract and retain workers by offering higher wages, more generous benefits, and more flexible schedules. Earnings The starting wage for many part-time retail sales positions is the Fed­ eral minimum wage, $4.25 an hour. However, employers can pay workers younger than age 20 a lower training wage of $3.62 for up to 6 months. In some areas where employers are having difficulty attracting and retaining workers, wages are much higher than the established minimum. The following tabulation shows median week­ ly earnings by class of sales worker in six industries. Motor vehicles and boats......................................................... $464 Hardware and building supplies................................................. 357 Radio, television, hi-fi, and appliances....................................... 350 Furniture and home furnishings.................................................. 345 Apparel....................................................................................... 219 Other commodities..................................................................... 253 Compensation systems vary by type of establishment and merchan­ dise sold. Some sales workers receive only an hourly wage. Others receive a commission or a combination of wages and commissions. Under a commission system, salespersons receive a percentage of the sales that they make. These systems offer sales workers the opportu­ nity to significantly increase their earnings, but they may find their earnings depend on their ability to sell their product and the ups and downs in the economy. Benefits tend to be few in smaller stores, but in large establish­ ments they are comparable to those offered by other employers. In addition, nearly all sales workers are able to buy their store’s mer­ chandise at a discount, often from 10 to 40 percent below regular prices. In some cases, this privilege is extended to the employee’s family as well. Related Occupations Sales workers use sales techniques coupled with their knowledge of merchandise to assist customers and encourage purchases. These skills are used by people in a number of other occupations, including manufacturers’ and wholesale trade sales workers, service sales rep­ resentatives, counter and rental clerks, real estate sales agents, whole­ sale and retail buyers, insurance sales workers, and cashiers. Sources of Additional Information Information on careers in retail sales may be obtained from the per­ sonnel offices of local stores; from State merchants’ associations; or 12   https://fraser.stlouisfed.org Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis  from local unions of the United Food and Commercial Workers Inter­ national Union. In addition, general information about retailing is available from: *■ National Retail Federation, 100 West 31st St., New York, NY 10001.  Securities and Financial Services Sales Representatives (D.O.T. 162.157-014, -042; 251.157, .257-010)  Nature of the Work Securities sales representatives. Most investors—whether they are individuals with a few hundred dollars to invest or large institutions with millions—use securities sales representatives when buying or selling stocks, bonds, shares in mutual funds, insurance annuities, certificates of deposit, or other financial products. Securities sales representatives often are called registered representatives, account executives, or brokers. When an investor wishes to buy or sell securities, sales representa­ tives may relay the order through their firms’ offices to the floor of a securities exchange, such as the New York Stock Exchange. There, securities sales representatives known as brokers’ floor representa­ tives buy and sell securities. If a security is not traded on an exchange, the sales representative sends the order to the firm’s trad­ ing department, which trades it directly with a dealer in the over-thecounter market. After the transaction has been completed, the sales representative notifies the customer of the final price. Securities sales representatives also provide many related services for their customers. Depending on a customer’s knowledge of the market, they may explain the meaning of stock market terms and trading practices; offer financial counseling; devise an individual financial portfolio for the client including securities, life insurance, corporate and municipal bonds, mutual funds, certificates of deposit, annuities, and other investments; and offer advice on the purchase or sale of particular securities. Not all customers have the same investment goals. Some individu­ als may prefer long-term investments designed either for capital growth or to provide income over the years; others might want to invest in short-term securities that they hope will rise in price quickly. Securities sales representatives furnish information about the advan­ tages and disadvantages of an investment based on each person’s objectives. They also supply the latest price quotations on any securi­ ty in which the investor is interested, as well as information on the activities and financial positions of the corporations issuing these securities. Most securities sales representatives serve individual investors while others specialize in institutional investors. In institutional investing, sales representatives usually concentrate on a specific financial product such as stocks, bonds, options, annuities, or com­ modity futures. Some handle the sale of new issues, such as corporate securities issued to finance plant expansion. The most important part of a sales representative’s job is finding clients and building a customer base. Thus, beginning securities sales representatives spend much of their time searching for customers— relying heavily on telephone solicitation. They may meet some clients through business and social contacts. Many sales representa­ tives find it useful to get additional exposure by teaching adult educa­ tion investment courses or by giving lectures at libraries or social clubs. Brokerage firms may give sales representatives lists of people with whom the firm has dealt in the past. Sometimes sales representa­ tives may inherit the clients of representatives who have retired. Financial services sales representatives. Financial services sales representatives call on various businesses to solicit applications for loans and new deposit accounts for banks or savings and loan associ­ ations. They also locate and contact prospective customers to present their bank’s financial services and to ascertain the customer’s banking  needs. At most small and medium-size banks, branch managers and commercial loan officers are responsible for marketing the bank’s financial services. As banks offer more and increasingly complex financial services—for example, securities brokerage and financial planning—the job of the financial services sales representative will assume greater importance. Working Conditions Securities sales representatives usually work in offices where there is much activity. They have access to “quote boards” or computer ter­ minals that continually provide information on the prices of securi­ ties. When sales activity increases, due perhaps to unanticipated changes in the economy, the pace may become very hectic. Established securities sales representatives usually work the same hours as others in the business community. Beginners who are seek­ ing customers may work much longer hours, however. Most securi­ ties sales representatives accommodate customers by meeting with them in the evenings or on weekends. Financial services sales representatives generally work in a com­ fortable, less stressful office environment. They generally work 40 hours a week. They may spend considerable time outside the office meeting with present and prospective clients, attending civic func­ tions, and participating in trade association meetings. Some financial services sales representatives work exclusively inside banks, provid­ ing service to “walk-in” customers. Employment Securities and financial services sales representatives held about 191,000 jobs in 1990. In addition, a substantial number of people in other occupations sold securities. These include partners and branch office managers in securities firms as well as insurance agents and brokers offering securities to their customers. Securities sales representatives are employed by brokerage and investment firms in all parts of the country. Many of these firms are very small. Most sales representatives, however, work for a small number of large firms with main offices in big cities (especially in New York) and approximately 23,000 branch offices in other areas. Financial services sales representatives are employed by banks, savings and loan associations, and other credit institutions.  , -T—  L. - M Securities sales representatives spend a considerable amount of their time talking to their clients.  https://fraser.stlouisfed.org Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis  Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement Because securities sales representatives must be well informed about economic conditions and trends, a college education is increasingly important, especially in the larger securities firms. In fact, the over­ whelming majority of entrants to this occupation are college graduates. Although employers seldom require specialized academic training, courses in business administration, economics, and finance are helpful. Many employers consider personal qualities and skills more impor­ tant than academic training. Employers seek applicants who have sales ability and good communication skills, are well groomed, and have a strong desire to succeed. Self-confidence and an ability to han­ dle frequent rejections also are important ingredients for success. Because maturity and the ability to work independently also are important, many employers prefer to hire those who have achieved success in other jobs. Some firms prefer candidates with sales experi­ ence, particularly those who have worked on commission in areas such as real estate or insurance. Understandably, most entrants to this occupation transfer from other jobs. Some begin working as securi­ ties sales representatives following retirement from other fields. Securities sales representatives must meet State licensing require­ ments, which generally include passing the examination and, in some cases, furnishing a personal bond. In addition, sales representatives must register as representatives of their firm according to regulations of the securities exchanges where they do business or the National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc. (NASD). Before beginners can qualify as registered representatives, they must pass the General Securities Registered Representative Examination, administered by the NASD. Most States require a second examination—the Uniform Securities Agents State Law Examination. These tests measure the prospective representative’s knowledge of the securities business, customer protection requirements, and recordkeeping procedures. Most employers provide on-the-job training to help securities sales representatives meet the requirements for registration. In most firms, the training period generally takes about 4 months. Trainees in large firms may receive classroom instruction in securities analysis, effec­ tive speaking, and the finer points of selling; take courses offered by business schools, such as the New York Institute of Finance, or other institutions and associations; and undergo a period of on-the-job training lasting up to 2 years. In small firms, sales representatives generally receive training in outside institutions and on the job. Many trainees take correspondence courses in preparation for the securities examinations. Securities sales representatives must understand the basic charac­ teristics of a wide variety of financial products offered by brokerage firms. Representatives periodically take training, through their firms or outside institutions, to keep abreast of new financial products as they are introduced on the market and to improve their sales tech­ niques. Training in the use of computers is important, as the securities sales business is highly automated. The principal form of advancement for securities sales representa­ tives is an increase in the number and size of the accounts they han­ dle. Although beginners usually service the accounts of individual investors, eventually they may handle very large institutional accounts such as those of banks and pension funds. Some experi­ enced sales representatives become branch office managers and supervise other sales representatives while continuing to provide ser­ vices for their own customers. A few representatives advance to top management positions or become partners in their firms. Banks and other credit institutions prefer to hire college graduates for financial services sales jobs. A business administration degree with a specialization in finance or a liberal arts degree including courses in accounting, economics, and marketing serves as excellent preparation for this job. Financial services sales representatives learn through on-the-job training under the supervision of bank officers. Outstanding perfor­ mance can lead to promotion to managerial positions. Job Outlook Employment of securities and financial sales representatives is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2005 as economic growth, rising personal incomes, 13  and greater inherited wealth increase the funds available for invest­ ment. More individual investors are expected to purchase common stocks, mutual funds, and other financial products after seeking advice from securities sales representatives regarding the increasing array of investment alternatives. Deregulation has enabled brokerage firms to sell certificates of deposit, offer checking and deposit ser­ vices through cash management accounts, and sell insurance products such as annuities and life insurance. Growth in the number and size of institutional investors will be strong as more people enroll in pen­ sion plans, set up individual retirement accounts, establish trust funds, and contribute to the endowment funds of colleges and other nonprofit institutions. More representatives also will be needed to sell securities issued by new and expanding corporations and by State and local governments financing public improvements. Demand also should increase as banks and credit institutions expand the financial services they offer, and issue more loans for personal and commercial use. Due to the highly competitive nature of securities sales work, many beginners leave the field because they are unable to establish a sufficient clientele. Once established, however, securities and finan­ cial services sales representatives have a very strong attachment to their occupation because of high earnings and the considerable investment in training. The demand for securities sales representatives fluctuates as the economy expands and contracts. Thus, in an economic downturn, the number of persons seeking jobs usually exceeds the number of open­ ings—sometimes by a great deal. Even during periods of rapid eco­ nomic expansion, however, competition for securities sales training positions—particularly in larger firms—is keen because of potentially high earnings. Job opportunities should be best for mature individuals with successful work experience. Opportunities for inexperienced sales representatives should be best in smaller firms. Earnings In 1990, median earnings of securities and financial services sales representatives were $36,800 a year; the middle 50 percent earned between $25,500 and $53,200. Ten percent earned less than $19,200 and 10 percent earned more than $95,000. On average, financial ser­ vices sales representatives earn considerably less than securities sales representatives. According to the Securities Industry Association, average annual earnings of beginning securities sales representatives were $28,000 in 1990. Earnings of full-time, experienced securities sales representa­ tives who served individual investors averaged about $79,000 a year, while the relatively small number of sales representatives who han­ dled institutional accounts averaged about $166,000. Trainees usually are paid a salary until they meet licensing and reg­ istration requirements. After registration, a few firms continue to pay a salary until the new representative’s commissions increase to a stat­ ed amount. The salaries paid during training usually range from $ 1,200 to $ 1,500 a month. After candidates are licensed and registered, their earnings depend on commissions from the sale or purchase of stocks and bonds, life insurance, or other securities for customers. Commission earnings are likely to be high when there is much buying and selling and lower when there is a slump in market activity. Most firms provide sales representatives with a steady income by paying a “draw against com­ mission”—that is, a minimum salary based on the commissions which they can be expected to earn. Securities sales representatives who can provide their clients with the most complete financial ser­ vices should enjoy the greatest income stability. Financial services sales representatives usually are paid a salary; some receive a bonus if they meet certain established goals. Related Occupations Similar sales jobs requiring specialized knowledge include insurance agents and real estate agents. Sources of Additional Information Further information concerning a career as a securities sales represenatives is available for $1 from: 14  https://fraser.stlouisfed.org Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis  Securities Industry Association, 120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271.  Career information also may be obtained from the personnel departments of individual securities firms. For information about job opportunities for financial services sales representatives in various States, contact State bankers’ associations or write directly to a particular bank to inquire about job openings. For the names and addresses of banks in a specific location as well as the names of their principal officers, consult one of the following directories. •“ The American Bank Directory (Norcross, Ga., McFadden Business Publi­ cations). *" Polk’s World Bank Directory (Nashville, R.L. Polk & Co.). *" The U.S. Savings and Loan Directory (Chicago, Rand McNally <6 Co.).  Services Sales Representatives (D.O.T. 165.157; 236.252; 250.357-022; 251.157-014, .257-014 and -018, .357; 252.257, .357; 253; 254; 259 except .257-014 and .357-026; 269.357­ 018; 273.357-014; 279.357-042; and 293 except .357-018)  Nature of the Work Services sales representatives sell a wide variety of services, from pest control and printing services to advertising services and tele­ phone communications systems. Sales representatives for data pro­ cessing services firms sell complex services such as inventory control, payroll processing, sales analysis, and financial reporting systems. An educational services sales representative might persuade States to use a particular licensing examination on insurance laws and regulations. Hotel sales representatives contact government, business, and social groups to solicit convention and conference business for the hotel. They contact prospective clients and deter­ mine their needs, outline the types and prices of services offered by the hotel, and prepare contracts when clients reserve space at the hotel. Fundraisers plan programs to raise money for charities or other causes such as the Special Olympics for handicapped children and mentally retarded adults. They write, telephone, or visit potential contributors and persuade them to donate money by explaining the purpose and benefits of various sports programs. They also may organize volunteers and plan special events to raise money. Sales representatives for temporary help services firms locate and acquire clients who will hire the firm’s employees. Telephone services sales representatives contact and visit commercial customers to review their telephone systems, analyze their communications needs, and recommend services such as installation of additional telephone instruments, lines, and switchboard systems. Other representatives sell automotive leasing, public utility, burial, shipping, protective, and management consulting services. (Information on other sales workers, including insurance agents and brokers, real estate agents and brokers, securities and financial services sales representatives, and travel agents, appears elsewhere in the Handbook.) Despite the diversity of services being sold, the jobs of virtually all services sales representatives have much in common. First, all sales representatives must fully understand and be able to discuss the ser­ vices their company offers. Second, the procedures they follow are similar. They develop lists of prospective clients through selected use of telephone and business directories, asking business associates and customers for leads, and looking for new clients as they cover their assigned territory. Sometimes they acquire clients through persons who call to inquire about the company’s services. Then, they meet with clients and explain how the services being offered can meet their needs, sometimes using literature or demonstrations to describe their company’s services. They answer questions about the nature and cost of the services and try to persuade potential customers to purchase the services. If they fail to make a sale on the first visit, they may follow up with more visits, letters, and phone calls. After making a sale, rep­ resentatives call on their customers to see that the services have met their needs, to determine if additional services are needed, and to obtain referrals.  Because services sales representatives obtain many new accounts through referrals, it is important that they maintain regular contact with their clients to ensure that they are satisfied with the services. Develop­ ing a satisfied clientele who will continue to use the services and will recommend the services to other potential customers is an important key to success in this field. Like other types of sales jobs, a services sales representative’s reputation is very important to his or her success. Some aspects of service sales work vary with the kind of service sold. Selling highly technical services such as communications sys­ tems or computer consulting services usually involves more complex and lengthy sales processes. In these situations, sales representatives usually operate according to policies outlined in the company’s mar­ keting and business plans. Such work plans identify prospective clients, establish marketing strategies, and set forth staff responsibili­ ties and timetables to achieve set goals. In selling technical services, sales representatives must become familiar with the intricacies of their customers’ operations in order to best serve their needs. Sales repre­ sentatives often work as part of a team and receive technical assistance from support personnel. For example, those who sell data processing services might work with a systems engineer, and those who sell tele­ phone services might receive technical assistance from a communica­ tions consultant. Because of the length of time between the initial contact with a customer and the actual sale, representatives who sell technical sen. es generally work with several customers at one time. Since prospective sales might be at different stages of the process, sales representatives must be well organized and efficient in schedul­ ing their time. On the other hand, some sales representatives deal exclusively with one large client. Selling less complex services such as linen supply, detective, or exterminating services generally involves simpler and shorter sales processes. A sales representative’s job can also vary with the size of the compa­ ny. Those working for relatively large companies generally are more specialized and are assigned territorial boundaries and specific services and accounts. Those in smaller companies generally have more inde­ pendence. Representatives in smaller companies may have administra­ tive and public relations responsibilities in addition to their sales duties. A sales representative’s job also depends on the size of his or her territory. A representative for a pest control company may sell primarily by telephone from an office. A linen supply sales represen­ tative may serve a small territory in a large city, but a sales represen­ tative for a national educational services organization may be responsible for serving several States.  Services sales representatives maintain regular contact with their clients.  https://fraser.stlouisfed.org Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis  Working Conditions Working conditions for sales representatives vary. Those responsible for a large territory may spend a great deal of time traveling, some­ times for weeks at a time. Representatives who cover a small territory may spend a certain amount of time in the office each day keeping records, preparing various documents, and setting up appointments with customers. Appointments must be scheduled for a time most convenient to customers. Representatives who sell exclusively by telephone spend all their time in the office. Many representatives have the flexibility to set their own schedules so long as they meet their company’s goals. Selling can be stressful work. Sales representatives face competi­ tion not only from representatives of other companies but also from fellow workers. Companies may set goals or quotas and hold contests with prizes for those who make the most sales. Employment Services sales representatives held about 588,000 salaried jobs in 1990. Four of every 10 were in firms providing business services, including computer and data processing, advertising, personnel supply, equipment rental and leasing, and mailing, reproduction, and steno­ graphic services. Other sales representatives worked for firms that offer a wide range of other services. The following tabulation shows the distribution of services sales representative jobs by industry. Percent Total........................................................................................  100  Business services........................................................................ Advertising............................................................................. Personnel supply services....................................................... Computer and data processing services................................. Other business services.......................................................... Motion pictures.......................................................................... Engineering and management services...................................... Personal services........................................................................ Amusement and recreation, except motion pictures.................. Automotive repair...................................................................... Hotels and other lodging places................................................. Membership organizations......................................................... Other...........................................................................................  42 7 4 9 22 14 7 6 5 4 4 4 14  Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement Many employers require that services sales representatives have a college degree, but specific requirements vary depending on the ser­ vices that a particular company sells. Employers who market adver­ tising services seek individuals with a college degree in advertising or marketing or a master’s degree in business administration; companies that market educational services prefer individuals with an advanced degree in marketing or related fields. Many hotels seek graduates from college hotel administration programs, and companies that sell computer services and telephone systems prefer sales representatives with a background in computer science or engineering. Courses in business, economics, and marketing are helpful in obtaining most jobs as services sales representatives. Some employers hire sales representatives with a high school diploma if they have a proven sales record. This is particularly true for those who sell nontechnical services such as linen supply, exter­ minating, laundry, and funeral services. Many firms conduct formal intensive training programs for their sales representatives. Individuals learn about the company’s opera­ tions and services. They also receive instruction in various sales tech­ niques such as prospecting for clients, probing customer needs, interviewing, sales presentations, and closing a sale. They may also receive motivational and sensitivity training to help them understand different personality types and make them more effective in dealing with people. Sales representatives may also attend seminars on a wide range of subjects given by outside training institutions such as technical schools and colleges and universities. In addition, frequent “in-house” training sessions acquaint them with new services and products and help them maintain and update their sales techniques. 15  They may also receive training in the use of computers to increase their productivity. Many large companies prefer to hire sales representatives directly out of school, while smaller companies prefer to hire individuals who have a proven sales record. Smaller companies generally lack the resources to provide training programs for their sales representatives. Sales representatives must have a pleasant, outgoing personality and good rapport with people. They must be highly motivated, well orga­ nized, and efficient. Good grooming and a neat appearance are essen­ tial. Self- confidence, reliability, and the ability to communicate are also vital characteristics. Sales representatives should be self-starters who have the ability to work under pressure to meet sales goals. Sales representatives who have good sales records and leadership ability may advance to sales supervisor, then branch or district man­ ager. Frequent contact with business people in other firms can pro­ vide sales workers with leads about job openings, thus facilitating advancement possibilities. Some go into business for themselves as independent representatives. Others find opportunities in advertising and market research. Job Outlook Employment of services sales representatives, as a group, is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2005 in response to the continued rapid increase in demand for services in general. However, growth of services sales jobs is directly related to growth of the particular industries where they are found. Some industries are expected to grow faster than others. For example, the continued growth in factory and office automation should lead to extremely rapid employment growth for data processing services sales representatives; the burgeoning growth in health services, such as membership in health maintenance organizations, should prompt very rapid growth for services sales representatives; and growth in the advertising industry should also spur much faster than average growth in employment of this industry’s sales force. Employment of those who sell personal services and miscellaneous repair services is expected to increase at a somewhat slower pace but still much faster than the average for all workers due to the continued increase in demand for their services. In addition to the jobs generated by this growth in demand, many openings will occur each year because of the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force. As in other sales occupations, turnover is relatively high—particularly among representatives who sell nontechnical services. Each year, many new services sales representatives discover that they are unable to earn enough money at selling and leave the occupation. Prospective services sales representatives with a college background or a proven sales record should have the best job oppor­ tunities. Earnings In 1990, median annual earnings of full-time advertising sales repre­ sentatives were about $26,200. Representatives selling other business services had median annual earnings of $24,400. Earnings of repre­ sentatives who sold technical services such as computer or communi­ cation services were generally higher than for those who sold nontechnical services. Earnings of experienced sales representatives depend on perfor­ mance. Successful sales representatives can quickly establish a clien­ tele and build up their income. Experienced sales representatives often earn more than managers in their firm; some sales representa­ tives earn over $100,000 a year. A select few may earn as much as $200,000 a year. Sales representatives work on different types of compensation plans. Some get a straight salary; others are paid solely on a com­ mission basis—a percentage of the dollar value of their sales. Most firms use a combination of salary and commissions. In addition to the same benefits package received by other employees of the firm, many sales representatives have expense accounts to cover meals and travel, and some drive a company car. Some employers offer bonuses, extra vacation time, trips, and prizes for sales that exceed company quotas. 16   https://fraser.stlouisfed.org Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis  Because sales are affected by changing economic conditions and consumer and business preferences, earnings may fluctuate widely from year to year. Related Occupations Services sales representatives must have sales ability and a knowl­ edge of the service they sell. Workers in other occupations that require these skills include buyers, real estate agents, insurance agents, securities sales representatives, wholesale and retail trade sales representatives, telephone solicitors, and travel agents. Sources of Additional Information For details about employment opportunities for services sales repre­ sentatives, contact employers who sell services in your area.  Travel Agents (D.O.T. 252.157-010)  Nature of the Work Constantly changing air fares and schedules, a proliferation of vaca­ tion packages, and business/pleasure trip combinations make travel planning frustrating and time consuming. Many travelers, therefore, turn to travel agents, who can make the best possible travel arrange­ ments for them. Depending on the needs of the client, travel agents give advice on destinations, make arrangements for transportation, hotel accommo­ dations, car rentals, tours, and recreation, or plan the right vacation package or business/pleasure trip combination. They may also advise on weather conditions, restaurants, and tourist attractions and recre­ ation. For international travel, agents also provide information on customs regulations, required papers (passports, visas, and certifi­ cates of vaccination), and currency exchange rates. Travel agents consult a variety of published and computer-based sources for information on departure and arrival times, fares, and hotel ratings and accommodations. They often base recommendations on their own travel experiences or those of colleagues or clients. Travel agents may visit hotels, resorts, and restaurants to rate, first­ hand, their comfort, cleanliness, and quality of food and service. Travel agents also promote their services. They present slides or movies to social and special interest groups, arrange advertising dis­ plays, and suggest company-sponsored trips to business managers. Working Conditions Travel agents spend most of their time behind a desk conferring with clients, completing paperwork, contacting airlines and hotels for trav­ el arrangements, and promoting group tours. They may be under a great deal of pressure during vacation seasons. Many agents, espe­ cially those who are self-employed, frequently work long hours. Employment Travel agents held about 132,000 jobs in 1990 and are found in every part of the country. More than 9 out of 10 worked for travel agencies; some worked for membership organizations. Nearly one-half are in suburban areas; about 40 percent are in large cities; and the rest, in small towns and rural areas. Many travel agents are self-employed. Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement Formal or specialized training is becoming increasingly important for travel agents since few agencies are willing to train people on the job. Many vocational schools offer 3- to 12-week full-time programs, as well as evening and Saturday programs. Travel courses are also offered in public adult education programs and in community and 4year colleges. A few colleges offer a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in travel and tourism. Although few college courses relate directly to the travel industry, a college education is sometimes desired by employers. Courses in computer science, geography, foreign lan­ guages, and history are most useful. Courses in accounting and busi-  '  -V:  pi m  • MV  Many travel agents are self-employed.  ness management also are important, especially for those who expect to manage or start their own travel agencies. Several home-study courses provide a basic understanding of the travel industry. The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) and the Institute of Certi­ fied Travel Agents offer a travel correspondence course. Travel agen­ cies also provide on-the-job training for their employees. Employers require computer skills—a significant part of training programs con­ sists of computer instruction. Travel experience is an asset since personal knowledge about a city or foreign country often helps to influence clients’ travel plans. Expe­ rience as an airline reservation agent also is a good background for a travel agent. Travel agents need good selling skills—they must be pleasant and patient and able to gain the confidence of clients. Some people start as reservation clerks or receptionists in travel agencies. With experience and some formal training, they can take on greater responsibilities and eventually assume travel agent duties. In agencies with many offices, travel agents may advance to office man­ ager or to other managerial positions. Experienced travel agents can take an advanced course, leading to the designation of Certified Travel Counselor, offered by the Institute of Certified Travel Agents. The institute awards a certificate to those completing an 18-month part-time course. It also offers certification, called designation of competence, in Western European, Carribbean, or South Pacific tours. Another recognized mark of achievement in this field is a certificate of proficiency from the American Society of Travel Agents, awarded to those who pass a 3-hour test. Those who start their own agencies generally have experience in an established agency. They must generally gain formal supplier or corporation approval before they can receive commissions. Suppliers or corporations are organizations of airlines, shiplines, or rail lines. The Airlines Reporting Corporation, for example, is the approving body for airlines. To gain approval, an agency must be in operation, be financially sound, and employ at least one experienced manager/ travel agent. There are no Federal licensing requirements for travel agents. However, Rhode Island requires licensing, and Ohio, Hawaii, and California require registration. In California, travel agents not approved by a corporation are required to have a license. Job Outlook Employment of travel agents is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2005. Many job  https://fraser.stlouisfed.org Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis  openings will arise as new agencies open and existing agencies expand, but most will occur as experienced agents transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force. Spending on travel is expected to increase significantly through the year 2005. As business activity expands, so will business-related travel. Employment of managerial, professional specialty, and sales representative occupations—those who do most business travel—is projected to grow rapidly. Also, with rising incomes, more people are expected to travel on vacation—and to do so more frequently—than in the past. In fact, many people take more than one vacation a year. Charter flights and larger, more efficient planes have brought air transportation within the budgets of more people. So has the easing of Government regulation of air fares and routes, by fostering greater competition among airlines to offer better and more affordable ser­ vice. In addition, American travel agents organize tours for the grow­ ing number of foreign visitors. Although most travel agencies now have automated reservation systems, this has not weakened demand for travel agents. The travel industry generally is sensitive to economic downturns and political crises, when travel plans are likely to be deferred. Therefore, the number of job opportunities fluctuates. Earnings Experience, sales ability, and the size and location of the agency deter­ mine the salary of a travel agent. According to a Louis Harris survey, conducted for the Travel Weekly Magazine, the 1990 annual earnings of travel agents with less thn 1 year experience were $12,056; from 1 to 3 years, $14,388; from 3 to 5 years, $17,825; from 5 to 10 years, $19,209; and more than 10 years, $21,715. Salaried agents usually have standard benefits, such as insurance coverage and paid vacations, that self-employed agents must provide for themselves. Earnings of travel agents who own their agencies depend mainly on commissions from airlines and other carriers, cruise lines, tour operators, and lodging places. Commissions for domestic travel arrangements, cruises, hotels, sightseeing tours, and car rentals are about 10 percent of the total sale; and for international travel, about 11 percent. They may also charge clients a service fee for the time and expense involved in planning a trip. During the first year of business or while awaiting corporation approval, self-employed travel agents generally have low earnings. Their income is generally limited to commissions from hotels, cruis­ es, and tour operators and to nominal fees for making complicated arrangements. Even established agents have lower profits during eco­ nomic downturns. When they travel, agents usually get substantially reduced rates for transportation and accommodations. Related Occupations Travel agents organize and schedule business, educational, or recre­ ational travel or activities. Other workers with similar responsibilities include secretaries, tour guides, airline reservation agents, rental car agents, and travel counselors. Sources of Additional Information For further information on training opportunities, contact: American Society of Travel Agents, 1101 King St. Alexandria, VA 22314.  For certification information, contact: The Institute of Certified Travel Agents, 148 Lindon St., P.O. Box 82-56, Wellesley, MA 02181, Toll Free Number 1-800-542-4282.  Wholesale and Retail Buyers and Merchandise Managers (D.O.T. 162.157-018,-022; and 185.167-034)  Nature of the Work Shop till you drop! Wholesale and retail buyers and merchandise managers do just that. Working for wholesalers and retailers, buyers purchase merchandise for resale. Merchandise managers supervise 17  buyers and set general buying and pricing policy for their department, division, or store. Regardless of what they are buying—from clothing to machinery—they seek the best available merchandise at the lowest possible price. Working with sales and marketing managers, they also determine how the merchandise will be distributed and marketed. Wholesale and retail buyers are an integral part of a complex system of production, distribution, and merchandising that caters to the vast variety of consumer needs and desires. Buyers working for large and medium- sized firms usually specialize in acquiring one or two lines of merchandise. However, buyers working for small stores may purchase their complete stock of merchandise. Wholesale buyers purchase goods directly from manufacturers or from other wholesale firms for resale to retail firms or to commercial establishments and other institutions. Retail buyers purchase goods from wholesale firms or directly from manufacturers for resale to the public. (Information about purchasing agents—buyers who purchase goods and services for their firm’s inter­ nal use—can be found elsewhere in the Handbook.) The success of any wholesale or retail firm depends on its ability to sell merchandise. Because buyers determine which products the establishment will sell, it is essential that they be knowledgeable about the products they are buying and know what will appeal to con­ sumers. These skills usually are developed through several years of experience as an assistant buyer—an entry level position. Assistant buyers perform many of the same duties as buyers but have the guid­ ance of an experienced buyer to help them. In order to purchase the best selection of goods, buyers must be familiar with the merchandise, its domestic and foreign manufactur­ ers and distributors, and its sales record. As a result, they must keep informed about changes in existing products and the development of new ones. To learn about merchandise, buyers read industry periodi­ cals, attend trade shows and conferences, and visit manufacturers’ showrooms. Both wholesalers and retailers are continuing to expand their use of computers, which has simplified many of the routine buying func­ tions and improved efficiency. Traditionally, buyers have relied on sales staff and inventory counts to determine which products were selling. However, computerized systems have dramatically changed this. For example, cash registers connected to computers, known as point-of-sale terminals, allow organizations to maintain centralized, up-to-date sales and inventory records. Information such as the price, color, or model number is often fed into the computer using bar codes or magnetic strips attached to the goods. This information can then be used to produce weekly sales reports that reflect the types of products in demand. With the data generated by these systems, buyers spend their time analyzing data and not collecting it. In addition to monitoring their company’s sales, buyers use com­ puters to gain instant access to the specifications for thousands of commodities, inventory records, and their customers’ purchase records. Buyers also follow ads in newspapers and other media to check competitors’ sales activities and watch general economic con­ ditions to anticipate consumer buying patterns. Once buyers decide what to purchase, they determine from whom to purchase it. They base their decision on price, availability, reliabil­ ity of the supplier, and selection. Buyer’s responsibilities have expanded with the use of private-label merchandise. This merchan­ dise is produced for a particular store and carries that store’s label. Buyers often work closely with vendors to develop and obtain the desired product. Because most buyers work within a limited budget, they must plan their purchases to keep needed items in stock, but also allow for unexpected purchases when a “good buy” presents itself. The ordering process varies by firm. Many orders are placed dur­ ing buying trips, but they are also made when wholesale and manu­ facturers’ sales workers call on buyers to display their merchandise. Some firms are linked with manufacturers or wholesalers by electron­ ic purchasing systems. These systems speed selection and ordering and provide information on availability and shipment. Often, assistant buyers are responsible for placing orders and checking shipments. Many buyers and merchandise managers assist in the planning and implementation of sales promotion programs. Working with mer­ chandising executives, they determine the nature of the sale and buy accordingly. They also work with advertising personnel to create the 18  https://fraser.stlouisfed.org Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis  ad campaign. For example, they may determine the media in which the advertisement will be placed—newspapers, direct mail, televi­ sion, or some combination of these. In addition, retail buyers often visit the selling floor to ensure that the goods are being displayed properly. Working Conditions Buyers and merchandise managers work in comfortable, well-lighted offices at stores or in corporate headquarters. They frequently work more than a 40-hour week because of special sales and conferences. Also, they may have to work evenings and weekends to complete work on time. For those working in retail trade, this is especially true prior to holiday seasons. In addition, many retail firms discourage the use of vacation time from Thanksgiving until early January. Buyers and merchandise managers often work under great pressure since wholesale and retail trade establishments are highly competi­ tive. Substantial traveling usually is required, and most buyers spend at least several days a month on the road. Employment Wholesale and retail buyers and merchandise managers held about 361,000 jobs in 1990. Nearly all were in full-time positions. About three-fifths of all buyers and merchandise managers were employed in retail establishments, such as department stores, supermarkets and groceries, and clothing stores. The remainder worked for wholesalers of groceries; machinery; electrical goods; hardware, plumbing, and heating equipment; and other durable and nondurable goods. Although buyers and merchandise managers work in all parts of the country, many are located in major metropolitan areas, where whole­ sale distributors and retail stores are concentrated.  Merchandise managers coordinate the work of buyers.  Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement This is not an entry level job. Qualified persons usually begin as assistant buyers or trainees. Firms prefer to hire applicants who are familiar with the merchandise they sell as well as with wholesaling and retailing practices. Some firms promote qualified employees to assistant buyer positions; others recruit and train college graduates as assistant buyers. Most employers use a combination of methods. Educational requirements for entry level assistant buying positions tend to vary with the size of the organization. The largest stores and distributors seek applicants who have completed associate or bache­ lor’s degree programs from any field of study. Training and job experi­ ence introduce the new worker to retail or wholesale trade operations and the policies fundamental to merchandising and management. Although training periods vary in length, most last several years. Most trainees begin by selling merchandise, supervising sales work­ ers, checking invoices on material received, and keeping track of stock on hand, although widespread use of computers in both whole­ sale and retail trade has simplified some of these tasks. As they progress, trainees are given more buying-related responsibilities. In order to maintain their effectiveness, buyers must constantly be aware of what their customers want. To stay abreast of new develop­ ments and products, they take courses in merchandising techniques, attend trade shows and conferences, and read industry periodicals. Persons who wish to become buyers should be good at planning and decisionmaking and have an interest in merchandising. Anticipat­ ing consumer preferences and ensuring that goods are in stock when they are needed require resourcefulness, good judgment, and self­ confidence. Buyers must be able to make decisions quickly and take risks. Marketing skills and the ability to identify products that will sell are also very important. Employers often look for leadership abil­ ity and communications skills because buyers spend a large portion of their time supervising assistant buyers and dealing with manufac­ turers’ representatives and store executives. In addition, buyers need physical stamina to keep up with the fast-paced nature of their work. Experienced buyers may advance by moving to a department that manages a larger volume or by becoming a merchandise manager. Others “jump to the other side of the fence” and go to work in sales for a manufacturer.  year 2005. Although sales volume will continue to increase with pop­ ulation growth, demand for these workers will slow because of changes taking place in wholesale and retail trade. Most job open­ ings, therefore, will result from replacement needs, which occur as experienced buyers and merchandise managers transfer to other occu­ pations in sales or management or leave the labor force. Over the past few years, the organizational structure of the whole­ sale and retail trade industries has been changing. Many firms have purchased or merged with other firms. When buying functions are centralized by the new organization, fewer buyers and managers are needed. Because merchandising attracts many college graduates, the num­ ber of qualified jobseekers should continue to exceed the number of openings. Prospects are likely to be best for those with previous wholesale or retail experience and a college degree. Wholesale and retail buyers, especially those who buy items affect­ ed by shifting consumer preferences such as apparel or toys, have less job security than people in many other occupations. Buyers who buy items that don’t sell well are often fired.  Job Outlook Employment of buyers and merchandise managers is expected to increase about as fast as the average for all occupations through the  Sources of Additional Information General information about a career in retailing is available from;   https://fraser.stlouisfed.org Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis  Earnings Median annual earnings of buyers were $25,100 in 1990. Most buy­ ers earned between $17,600 and $34,600 a year. The lowest 10 per­ cent averaged less than $13,500, while the top 10 percent earned more than $46,700. A buyer’s income depends upon the amount and type of product purchased, the employer’s sales volume and, to some extent, the buyer’s seniority. Buyers and merchandise managers receive a variety of benefits. In addition to standard benefits, buyers often earn cash bonuses based on their performance and may receive discounts on merchandise bought from the employer. Related Occupations Workers in other occupations who need a knowledge of marketing and the ability to assess demand are purchasing agents and managers, retail sales workers, sales managers, comparison shoppers, manufac­ turers’ and wholesales sales representatives, insurance sales agents, and services sales representatives.  »■ National Retail Federation, 100 West 31st St., New York, NY 10001.  19  New from BLS  cienceocPJiysics ilW*  Coal, Iro luminumTPuttiejm Do you want to know more about work in industries? • Number of jobs • Geographic areas having the most jobs • Size of establishments • Goods and services produced • Kinds of workers employed—what types of work is done • Common working conditions and hazards • Jobs that can be entered from high school; from college • Jobs that do not require specialized education or training • Opportunities for acquiring skills  Then, don’t miss this new publication!  Career Guide to Industries Career Guide to Industries, BLS Bulletin 2403, was produced by the same staff that prepares the Occupational Outlook Handbook—the Federal Goverment’s premier career guidance publication. This new book is a must for guidance counselors, individuals planning their careers, job seekers, and others who want the latest word on career information from an industry perspective.  • Prospects for upward mobility • Long-term employment outlook • Reasons for changing staffing patterns • Earnings of key  https://fraser.stlouisfed.org Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis  occupations  Note: At press time, the price for this publication was not available. Contact any of the Bureau of Labor Statistics Regional Offices listed on the inside front cover, or the Division of Occupational Outlook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Washington, DC 20212.
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