How Much Does a Sales Associate Make

A sales associate is responsible for helping customers throughout the buying process. Most sales associates are retail sales associates and work in a store, helping drive sales by providing information to shoppers. The role can change slightly depending on the type of store or company they work for. How much does a sales associate make?

Retail Sales Associate

A retail sales associate works for a company that sells directly to the consumer; think of any store in the mall. The person helping you pick out your outfit is a retail sales associate. More often than not, the company will pay them by the hour. The average hourly pay for a retail sales associate is between $13/hour and $17/per hour.

The Average Sales Associate’s Salary

The average sales associate’s salary is about $32,000 annually in the United States, with additional pay like tips, commissions, or bonuses. The salary range can vary greatly and may depend on several factors, including full-time or part-time work, location, additional pay, and the employer.

Factors Driving the Average Salaries of a Sales Associate

As you can expect with any job, many factors can cause salaries to increase or decrease. Although the average salary for a sales associate is usually in the medium 5-figure range, the pay can increase with a job in the right place and a salary based on commission, which could bring the compensation well into the 6-figure salary range.


The cost of living across the United States can vary greatly. Where sales associates live, and work can determine what they can earn each year.

For example, the median salary for sales associates in New York, NY, is about 40k/year, and in Los Angeles, California is 35k/year. This data shows that working in the highest paying cities will increase your salary to 25% and 9% higher than the average salary.

Some of the other highest-paying cities in the U.S. for a position as a sales associate are San Jose and Napa, California, Carson City, Nevada; and Seattle, Washington. If you’re lucky enough to live in one of these cities and have some experience, you can jump right into a high-paying job, which comes right along with the high cost of living.


The companies you choose to work for also affect how much a sales associate can pay yearly.

Walmart reports that the average hourly pay for their U.S. sales associates exceeds $19/hour, including total compensation and benefits. The average salary across the U.S. is about $14. Working full-time as a sales associate at Walmart could increase your salary to 40k/ year.

Best Buy has a minimum wage for all their employees set at $15/hour, making them competitive among the U.S. Median for sales associate salaries.


Some jobs come with incentives or the ability to earn a bonus. A retail sales associate may be able to help customers find products and purchase extra items and, by doing so, may make an extra commission. This will increase what they will be paid at the month’s or year’s end. Retail sales associates at a store with expensive technology or electronics often offer you a warranty package or accessories. If the associate sells enough of these by a certain date, they can be rewarded with a bonus.

These jobs are great for people looking to earn their salary with hard work. A sales associate who is great at selling extras because they can explain products and accessories to their customers can be paid a much higher compensation.

If you’re planning on becoming a sales associate, finding a position that suits your skills is important. Finding a job with a stable base salary but less incentive pay may be important if making sales and quotas is daunting.

Asking, “what does a sales associate make?” is not such an easily answered question with a stream of factors that affect salaries.

Related Job Titles

A sales associate can be a sales associate, junior or senior sales associate, or retail sales associate, depending on their position and where they work. The job titles can also change just based on the business the person works for.

How to search for sales associate jobs

Searching for a job as a sales associate, or more specifically, a retail sales associate, means looking at how much a sales associate makes in the area, how the salaries are structured, and what type of products will be sold in the store.

How are the salaries structured?

First, find out what is most important to you, whether a base salary or a job focusing more on bonuses and incentives that increase your pay depending on work performance. Finding a job with more incentive-based salaries could provide some of the highest salaries but may also require the employee to put in more effort to make those high salaries.

What products or services are being sold?

Search for employers or companies that make sense for you to work with. If you know electronics well, apply to a company that sells electronics or services electronics so that your background knowledge can help your sales. As a retail sales associate, you will learn a lot about the products the more you work with them.

Working with Products or Services

A retail sales associate can sell either a product or a service. Providing a service is like offering solutions to the consumer. The sales associate offers the person a service to help with a problem. The input that a sales associate can offer can result in them selling a service and increasing their salary.

Sales Associate Salary

Salaries vary greatly from one sales associate to the next, so asking, “how much does a sales associate make?” is a hard question to answer. Working in New York will offer different salaries than working in Oklahoma, and knowing the average salary doesn’t mean that’s what everyone will pay. Each company may offer different salaries based on experience, work history, and full- or part-time work.

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