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Advertising Salespeople

At a Glance

  • Talk with customers constantly
  • Stay up to date on trends and pop culture
  • Are persuasive
  • Work long hours
  • Usually work on commission
  • Train on the job

Career summary

Advertising salespeople sell air time on radio and TV stations. They also sell page space in newspapers, magazines, and online websites.

Advertising salespeople may also be called advertising account representatives, advertising sales specialists, or advertising sales representatives or agents.


Advertising salespeople sell advertising space to businesses. Salespeople call companies to recruit new clients. They explain their services and costs. If a company is interested in advertising, salespeople gather more information about the business in order to target their advertising needs. Salespeople put together a presentation to explain their recommendations to the business. They start by analyzing the potential client's products and services, target markets, and competitors. They may create a sample ad for the presentation. They answer questions and provide advice about ads and programming or printing schedules.

When businesses become clients, salespeople prepare sales contracts and calculate fees. They usually use computers to write these contracts as well as to keep track of information about clients.

For some clients, the advertising salesperson's employer develops the ads. Some clients want or need their ads created by another company. Salespeople can help their clients find other advertising professionals.

Advertising salespeople remain in contact with clients. Salespeople make sure that clients are satisfied with their ad schedules, and make changes when clients are unhappy. They may also collect payment for services.

Salespeople develop lists of possible clients by using telephone and business directories. They also ask current clients for leads on new advertisers. In addition, salespeople look for new clients while covering their sales territory.

Advertising salespeople stay current on industry trends and customer development by attending sales meetings, trade shows, and training seminars.

Related careers

This career is part of the Marketing cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to advertising salespeople.

Common work activities

Advertising salespeople perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, advertising salespeople:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Advertising salespeople frequently:

It is important for advertising salespeople to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for advertising salespeople to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Advertising salespeople need to:


Reason and problem solve

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as an advertising salesperson, you typically need to:

Education after high school

No formal education is required beyond high school. However, most advertising salespeople have at least some college education. An associate degree can provide important computer and communication skills. These degrees take two years to complete and often can be completed while working part time in sales.

Many advertising salespeople have a bachelor's degree. Colleges and universities offer programs in marketing or business administration and management. These programs provide a good base for a career in advertising sales and generally take four years to complete. Your degree could be in a liberal arts area. For example, you could study sociology, psychology, or journalism.

Work experience

You should consider participating in an internship while in college. An internship is usually part of a four-year degree program. It offers you a chance to apply what you have learned in the classroom to a work situation. It also allows you to build skills and make contacts with people in the field. An internship may improve your chances of finding a job.

Work in another area of sales or as a customer service representative is good preparation for this occupation.

On-the-job training

Most firms provide training programs. Training usually covers methods for finding clients, making presentations, and answering customer questions. You also learn how to close sales and write orders. On-the-job training may last up to one year, but many people receive just a few months.

After training, salespeople often take seminars on improving their sales.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum (external link) may be different from your state's graduation requirements (external link).

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

Many advertising salespeople are self-employed. If you want to run your own business some day, you should consider taking these courses as well:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups (PDF file) that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Most employers look for applicants who have a high degree of initiative, an outgoing personality, and sales experience. Many employers require a college degree. The minimum education requirement is a high school diploma. Employers usually require sales experience when hiring applicants who have only a high school diploma.

Large radio and TV stations and national publications look for individuals with at least a bachelor's degree in advertising or marketing. A master's degree in business administration may provide an advantage. Smaller stations and publications may require less education.

Self-confidence, reliability, and strong communication skills are basic requirements. In addition, applicants must be able to put together and conduct sales presentations. Salespeople must be self-starters who have the ability to work under pressure to meet sales goals. Because salespeople meet with clients, employers look for applicants who are neat and well-groomed.

Costs to workers

Some workers may join a professional association and pay annual dues. Costs vary and are sometimes paid by the employer. Additional costs may include appropriate attire.

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Advertising sales agents (SOC 41-3011)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $15.59 $18.72 $24.81 $36.73 $54.30
Monthly $2,702 $3,244 $4,300 $6,365 $9,410
Yearly $32,430 $38,940 $51,600 $76,400 $112,940
    Bellingham Hourly $15.65 $17.19 $20.59 $30.53 $44.94
Monthly $2,712 $2,979 $3,568 $5,291 $7,788
Yearly $32,555 $35,762 $42,809 $63,514 $93,474
    Bremerton-Silverdale Hourly $17.46 $20.35 $26.82 $38.24 $62.10
Monthly $3,026 $3,527 $4,648 $6,627 $10,762
Yearly $36,322 $42,313 $55,779 $79,532 $129,168
    Clarkston-Lewiston Hourly $10.67 $12.11 $14.73 $18.27 $25.09
Monthly $1,849 $2,099 $2,553 $3,166 $4,348
Yearly $22,187 $25,197 $30,640 $38,020 $52,191
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $12.14 $12.55 $15.06 $26.29 $37.91
Monthly $2,104 $2,175 $2,610 $4,556 $6,570
Yearly $25,265 $26,088 $31,326 $54,680 $78,859
    Mount Vernon-Anacortes Hourly $13.92 $16.52 $19.80 $42.56 $100.05
Monthly $2,412 $2,863 $3,431 $7,376 $17,339
Yearly $28,946 $34,367 $41,184 $88,530 $208,097
    Olympia-Tumwater Hourly $12.38 $17.72 $24.19 $30.39 $38.16
Monthly $2,145 $3,071 $4,192 $5,267 $6,613
Yearly $25,763 $36,860 $50,310 $63,215 $79,360
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $17.10 $20.46 $26.58 $39.80 $58.86
Monthly $2,963 $3,546 $4,606 $6,897 $10,200
Yearly $35,555 $42,564 $55,296 $82,773 $122,416
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $14.16 $20.63 $28.06 $33.89 $44.53
Monthly $2,454 $3,575 $4,863 $5,873 $7,717
Yearly $29,440 $42,893 $58,351 $70,471 $92,627
    Vancouver Hourly $11.19 $12.44 $21.63 $33.72 $45.99
Monthly $1,939 $2,156 $3,748 $5,844 $7,970
Yearly $23,271 $25,874 $44,977 $70,148 $95,663
    Walla Walla Hourly $12.83 $14.27 $16.57 $19.13 $24.78
Monthly $2,223 $2,473 $2,872 $3,315 $4,294
Yearly $26,668 $29,687 $34,478 $39,791 $51,553
    Wenatchee Hourly $15.93 $17.89 $21.12 $30.82 $39.65
Monthly $2,761 $3,100 $3,660 $5,341 $6,871
Yearly $33,130 $37,222 $43,924 $64,098 $82,477
    Yakima Hourly $15.63 $20.47 $25.00 $43.52 $51.06
Monthly $2,709 $3,547 $4,333 $7,542 $8,849
Yearly $32,512 $42,579 $52,003 $90,526 $106,195
United States Hourly $11.86 $16.68 $24.87 $36.94 $55.20
Monthly $2,055 $2,891 $4,310 $6,402 $9,566
Yearly $24,670 $34,700 $51,740 $76,840 $114,810

Most advertising salespeople work on a commission basis. Some earn a commission on total sales plus a guaranteed salary. Earnings vary according to the size of the market salespeople work in. Although competition for accounts is greater in larger cities, earnings are typically higher there. The amount of sales and commissions vary from month to month. During slow months, many salespeople are allowed to "draw" against their annual earnings.

Full-time advertising salespeople generally earn benefits. Typical benefits include sick leave, paid vacation, and health insurance. Some employers also provide a retirement plan. Self-employed advertising salespeople must provide their own insurance.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook

The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Advertising Sales Agents (SOC 41-3011)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 3,366 32.5% 16.1% 700
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 108 -11.1% 13.4% 10
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 65 -20.0% 8.6% 5
    Benton and Franklin Counties 109 -20.2% 15.0% 8
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 102 -21.6% 11.9% 7
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 109 -15.6% 15.2% 8
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 105 -1.9% 14.1% 12
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 150 -26.0% 14.6% 7
    King County 2,069 61.9% 19.6% 591
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 107 -10.3% 13.8% 10
    Pierce County 93 10.8% 15.2% 14
    Snohomish County 109 -13.8% 12.4% 9
    Spokane County 194 -10.3% 13.9% 18
United States 147,900 -2.2% 5.2% 19,500

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Employment of advertising salespeople is expected to decline. As print media such as newspapers decline, advertising sales positions will also decline. However job prospects will be good for advertising salespeople who work in digital media.

More and more, digital advertising can be developed without salespeople. Those with experience, a knowledge of digital advertising techniques, and a bachelor's degree will have the best opportunities. 

Other resources

Advertising Educational Foundation (external link)
708 Third Avenue, 23rd Floor
New York, NY 10017
American Advertising Federation (external link)
1101 Vermont Avenue NW
Fifth Floor
Washington, DC 20005
American Association of Advertising Agencies (external link)
1065 Avenue of the Americas, 16th Floor
New York, NY 10018
American Marketing Association (external link)
Association of National Advertisers (external link)
10 Grand Central
155 E 44th Street
New York, NY 10017
National Association of Farm Broadcasters (external link)
PO Box 500
Platte City, MO 64079
National Retail Federation (external link)
1101 New York Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20005
Printing Industries of America (external link)
301 Brush Creek Road
Warrrendale, PA 15086-7529
Radio Advertising Bureau (external link)
125 West 55th Street, 5th Fl.
New York, NY 10019
SHOP! Association (external link)
4651 Sheridan Street, Suite 470
Hollywood, FL 33021


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Holland occupational cluster