Compensation varies significantly by the type of firm and the product sold. Most employers offer a combination of salary and commission payments or a salary plus a bonus. Commissions usually are based on the amount of sales, whereas bonuses may depend on individual performance, on the performance of all workers in the group or district, or on the company’s performance. Earnings from commissions and bonuses may vary greatly from year to year, depending on sales ability, the demand for the company’s products or services, and the overall economy.
Median annual earnings of sales engineers, including commissions, were $70,620 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $53,270 and $91,500 a year. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $41,430, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $117,260 a year. Median annual earnings of those employed by firms in the computer systems design and related services industry were $86,980.
In addition to their earnings, sales engineers who work for manufacturers usually are reimbursed for expenses such as transportation, meals, hotels, and customer entertainment. In addition to typical benefits, sales engineers often get personal use of a company car and frequent-flyer mileage. Some companies offer incentives such as free vacation trips or gifts for outstanding performance. Sales engineers who work in independent firms may have higher but less stable earnings and, often, relatively few benefits.