Campus & Student Life
CBS International Business School, 10 August 2023

Sales Manager Salary - Earning Opportunities in the Sales Industry


Are you interested in the job of a Sales Manager? Are you considering studying Sales Management, transitioning into Sales Management, or starting a career as a Sales Manager? Then, you have probably wondered how much you can earn in this profession. Unfortunately, there is no simple and straightforward answer to this question. However, we can show you here what your earning potential looks like and which factors and industry-specific characteristics can positively or negatively influence your salary as a Sales Manager. This way, you will know exactly what to expect financially in this industry. In general, you can be reassured that you do not have to worry about financial issues in the industry or as a Sales Manager, especially with a completed degree.

Study Programmes in German 

Dual General Management Studies - Specializing in Sales Management.

Full-time Master's in Sales Management & Sales Psychology. 

Part-time Master's in Sales Management & Sales Psychology.

What does a sales manager earn after graduation?

How much you earn in sales manager jobs after graduation depends on many factors. Because of this, we can’t make precise statements about your future earnings. As a rule, however, you can expect a sales manager salary of 3000 to 4000 euros per month after graduation. This number can vary, and it depends on the size and location of the business concerned. In addition, factors such as previous work experience play a role in determining the salary. So there’s a lot to consider when choosing your career path.

One thing can be said with certainty: You don't have to worry about your salary in sales. Regardless of your role, you will already be doing quite well financially after graduation. Moreover, you will have plenty of opportunities to move up the corporate ladder and earn a higher salary as you gain experience. In addition, many companies pay a commission or bonus on top of your Sales Manager salary. If you are successful in your job, you can use it to earn additional income and supplement your salary.

Starting Salary Sales/Sales Manager

Your starting salary as a sales manager depends on whether you have completed vocational training or an advanced degree. Whether you have previous sales experience is also important, as is the exact sales manager job you occupy. For example, a junior sales manager must be prepared for a lower salary than a sales manager or even a senior sales manager. If you also have some professional experience on your sales manager resume or have completed a degree in a related field like business administration, the salary will be even higher.

In general, if you have only completed vocational training, you can expect to earn around 1500 to 2000 euros as a starting sales manager salary. On the other hand, if you have a degree, then you can look forward to a sales manager salary of around 3,000 to 4,000 euros per month, as mentioned above.

How much do you earn in junior sales manager jobs?

Before you become a Sales Manager, you will normally start your career as a Junior Sales Manager, unless you already have experience. The good news is that, while junior sales manager is an entry-level position, you can still look forward to a good salary.

As in most professions, it depends on what qualifications and how much work experience you have. With a degree, you can earn around 2800 to 3000 euros per month as a junior sales manager. As a Bachelor or Master, i.e. with a degree, the Sales Manager salary is around 4000 euros per month. As a young professional without previous experience, it usually makes little difference whether you have a Master's or a Bachelor's degree. But your salary in the industry will be higher if you already have experience, for example from another degree programme. The same also applies if you have a vocational qualification and previous sales experience.

Factors that influence your sales manager salary

Many factors influence your salary as a sales manager. Many of these factors are not new and also apply in other sectors and professions. In this section you will learn about the most important influences on your sales manager salary. With this information, you will know what to look for when choosing a career and when selecting the right company or industry.

The size of the company

In many professions, the size of the company plays an important role when it comes to salary. Larger companies tend to pay more for the same job than smaller companies. There are many reasons for this. Of course, larger companies have more financial resources than smaller ones. But employees in larger companies also usually have more work and responsibility. They may be transferred to different branches, or have to be willing to travel. If this also interests you and you would like to improve your salary, then you should also pay attention to the size of the company when applying for sales manager jobs.

Your work experience

One factor that plays a significant role in salary is your work experience. If you have already worked in other professions prior to your training in the sales field, or if you already have another degree and professional experience in addition to your studies, then you can expect a higher income. A reliable way to earn more as an entry-level sales professional, is to do an apprenticeship in sales, work at the same company for a few years, before completing a bachelor's degree. Other employees complete a bachelor's degree, work as a sales manager and then take a specialist sales degree. Both routes provide opportunities to improve your income during your career as a sales manager.

Responsibility levels

As a sales manager, you can take on different levels of responsibility. In larger companies, the job might be subdivided between a junior sales manager, a sales manager and a senior sales manager. In this case, you earn less as a junior sales manager than in the other professions, but you also have less responsibility. In other professions, however, there might only be the sales manager or the sales manager and the senior sales manager. These roles carry more responsibility, but you have the opportunity to earn more. This is a factor you should definitely consider when applying. The problem is that it is usually difficult to get into jobs with higher responsibility. That is especially true for young professionals without experience. In many cases, companies also require a degree for such positions.

Location and regional differences

In many professions there are regional differences in salary levels. In the new federal states you earn less than in the old ones, and earnings in bigger cities are higher than in smaller ones. This rule also applies to sales manager jobs. So you should find out exactly where you can earn the most before you apply. It might be best to apply in the old federal states. Or if you apply in the new federal states, look for a job in a bigger city. Big cities like Munich, Hamburg, Cologne or Berlin are known to pay the most, but there are also some exceptions and additional cities where you can earn a lot of money.

Premiums, bonuses and commissions

In sales, it is common for employees to receive bonuses or commissions if they sell successfully. The sales manager role is no exception. As a supervisor of an entire department or also as a lone wolf, the manager is responsible for sales volumes and the development of sales strategies and concepts. They can therefore receive bonuses for good performance or earn commissions on each sale. The size of these add-ons depends on the company. If they are an integral part of the job, as in the case of commissions, they are laid down in the contract. Bonuses and premiums, on the other hand, are not always written into the contract, as they only occur when needed.

Your academic degree

The academic degree you bring with you also plays an important role in the salary you receive. Along with work experience, this is one of the most important factors when it comes to earnings. As a rule, both bachelor's and master's degree holders earn significantly more than sales managers with vocational training. Here, the differences can amount to 1000 euros or more per month. But there are also differences between the Master's and Bachelor's degrees. This is especially true if the Master already has previous work experience, or if they already have another related degree, for example in business studies.

Sector-specific differences

In sales, as in all industries, there are various differences that can affect salary. Sales managers in the automotive industry, for example, are among the highest earners. They are only exceeded by mechanical engineering or the pharmaceutical industry, where the annual sales manager salary is around 80,000 euros. On the other hand, the earning potential is slightly lower in retail. Therefore, it is important that you familiarise yourself with sales opportunities in different industries before you apply. For each sector, check what you can earn there and then apply accordingly. The problem here might be finding a company that meets your requirements and is located near you. In that case, you have the best chance of landing the position you want if you have plenty of work experience or an appropriate degree on your sales manager resume.

Example salaries for sales managers

This section features a table showing how the average sales manager salary compares with salaries in  related professions. For this purpose, we have used figures taken from common career sites and job portals to give you an accurate overview.


As you can see, the salary in sales manager jobs lies roughly in the middle. You earn significantly more than a product manager and only slightly less than a key account manager. As the top position in sales and distribution, the key account manager naturally receives the best salary. Note, however, that these figures are only rough guidelines. The factors discussed above are not included in these figures and they do not include bonuses, premiums or commissions, which often make up a large part of the salary. So use them with care.

Explore below to discover the suitable professions for sales managers and gain insight into their actual responsibilities.

Conclusion and summary

We hope that our article on the topic of sales manager salaries has given you an overview of your earning potential and provided some key things to look out for. With a degree, you clearly have better opportunities in this sector. You should also take a close look at where you are applying and to whom. The size and location of the company play an important role, as does the payment of premiums and bonuses, or contractually agreed commission. You will only find a job that suits you if you compare thoroughly and inform yourself. However, don’t worry too much. We can safely say that, as a sales manager, you usually don't have to worry about finances.

Looking for a suitable sales degree?

Have we been able to arouse your interest in studying sales and distribution? CBS offers various sales and sales management degree programmes. You can find more information about our degrees and course requirements on our Pillar page for the sales degree here.

CBS International Business School

CBS International Business School is a state-recognised private university of applied sciences for business. We offer accredited Bachelor's, Master's and MBA degree programmes in German and English on a full-time or part-time basis. Throughout Germany, the university is represented at three locations in Cologne, Mainz, and Potsdam.

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