Top 10 Best Commission-Based Jobs (2023)

By Jeff Gillis

For many people, commission-based jobs are incredibly intriguing. They give you the ability to increase your earning potential without having to find a new position, which is pretty sweet.

But there’s also a lot of confusion about commission work. Many people aren’t fully clear on how sales commission functions, whether these kinds of roles are worth pursuing, and what the best commission jobs even are.

So, if you want to understand the ins and out of commission work, you’re in the right place. Here’s everything you need to know.

What Is Commission?

Alright, let’s start with the basics and answer one critical question: What is commission, anyway?

Well, a commission is a type of performance-based compensation. You earn a particular amount of money for accomplishing a specific goal.

What kind of goal? Well, usually it’s making a sale of some sort. However, some professionals earn commissions for other activities, like setting up meetings with prospects, securing contract renewals, filling job openings, and more. It simply depends on the nature of the role.

How much compensation do you get as commission? That actually depends. First, there are two major approaches to this kind of compensation: flat-rate and percentage.

With a flat rate, you get a set dollar amount for accomplishing a particular task. For instance, you might earn $50 per every five sales, or something similar.

With the percentage approach, how much you earn is usually related to the value of the sale, the amount a new hire placed in a job opening makes in a year, or a similar metric. For example, you may earn a 5 percent commission on every sale. That means a $300 sale nets you $15.

Additionally, there are two kinds of commission-based jobs: fully commission and partially commission. Some commission jobs include a base salary along with commission, while others don’t have any base salary. With the latter, you only earn commission.

It’s also important to note that when you see commissions show up in your paycheck can vary. Some companies pay it out monthly, while others distribute commission pay on a quarterly or annual basis. There can also be a delay between when you accomplish the associated task and when commission for that specific work is paid.

For example, let’s imagine you get monthly commission, and you’re paid on the first of the month. It might not be possible to pay your commission for all of your June work on July 1, as there is usually a processing delay. Instead, you might get that payment on August 1 instead.

If there is a delay, the employer usually spells it out clearly. That way, employees understand what money is coming when, allowing them to plan properly.

So, what does it take to thrive in a commission-based job? Drive, determination, and resilience are usually biggies. If it’s a sales position, then strong communication skills are essential. Being a great negotiator helps, too.

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While it isn’t really a job requirement, some financial savviness is also pretty important. Why? Because your income may be surprisingly inconsistent. If you don’t know how to plan for that, you could be in trouble.

Commission work can also be very high pressure, depending on the industry. It could be the company putting the pressure on you, pressure from cut-throat colleagues who want to boost their numbers, or pressure you place on yourself to make sure you earn enough.

Plus, if it’s a sales commission job, there’s a good chance you’re going to hear “no” a lot. People who excel in these roles know how to keep pushing, knowing that a “yes” might be on the horizon. However, that isn’t to say it can’t be frustrating, if not outright demoralizing sometimes.

In many cases, commission jobs just aren’t for the faint of heart. That’s why you need a boatload of resilience.

But on the other side, they do give you some control over your earnings. If you’re diligent and amazing at what you do, the sky might be the limit. That’s what can make commission work so attractive.

Top 10 Best Commission-Based Jobs

1. Real Estate Agent

When it comes to classic commission jobs, real estate agent is a big one. More often than not, real estate professionals’ salaries are entirely based on how many properties they help sell.

Both buyer’s and seller’s agents get a commission, usually around 5 to 6 percent split evenly between them. That means, after facilitating a $300,000 property sale, each one receives $7,500 to $9,000, depending on the commission structure.

Now, it is also possible to be both a buyer’s and seller’s agent on a single property. If that happens, you get to keep the full 5 to 6 percent. Using the example above, that would snag you $15,000 to $18,000 on that $300,000 sale.

Now, real estate agents typically earn around $51,220 per year. After all, you’re not snagging a sale every single day. It usually takes some time.

However, plenty certainly earn more. The top 10 percent bring home more than $174,120 annually, so keep that in mind.

2. Sales Engineer

When it comes to unique sales jobs that usually involve some commission, sales engineer definitely qualifies. Usually, you find these roles in the technology or manufacturing industries, particularly with companies that offer customizable products or services.

These professionals need plenty of technical expertise along with salesmanship, ensuring they can both convince a prospective customer that making a purchase is a good idea but also help them adjust the product or service based on the customer’s technical specifications.

During the purchase process, the sales engineer helps outline with customizations the customer wants, essentially adjusting the end result until it’s perfect for that single person or business. They might even spend time gathering details for fully custom solutions, depending on the company they work for.

Sales engineers usually earn quite a bit in exchange for their expertise. Commission often accompanies a base salary, too, so there’s a bit more security than a pure commission role.

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Overall, earning around $108,830 a year is typical. However, some cross $184,190, which is pretty awesome.

3. Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agent

If you’re looking for commission-based jobs with a ton of earnings potential, securities, commodities, and financial services sales agent needs to be on your list. These jobs play a crucial role in the broader financial marketplace, helping buyers and sellers come together and ensuring customers can get the support they need.

Along with fast-paced positions like stockbroker, there are also lower-key options available, making this option potential worthwhile for a wide range of people. Plus, making about $65,420 a year is the norm, which is definitely respectable. But if you aren’t afraid to push yourself, you could be earning upwards of $171,700, showing just how much potential these jobs have.

4. Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Rep

If you prefer the world of business-to-business (B2B) sales and don’t mind at least some of your earnings being commission-based, working as a wholesale and manufacturing sales rep could be a great choice. Usually, these jobs focus on getting other companies – typically retailers – to purchase something created by the manufacturer you work for, which is pretty straightforward.

On the commission side, you usually earn either a set amount or a percentage for each contract you secure. As a result, there is plenty of potential.

Plus, this is a role that can come with some travel opportunities. At times, you may need to head out on the road to meet with potential buyers and provide product demos, adding some variety to the position.

When it comes to annual salaries, $65,420 is common. However, it’s possible to cross the $129,200 mark, so keep that in mind.

5. Travel Agent

Many people don’t realize that travel agents usually earn commissions. In most cases, the vendors featured in vacation packages and any associated add-ons are the ones that pay the bonus, a move that is designed to entice travel agents into favoring their properties, services, or other offerings.

One of the benefits of this commission job is that it isn’t as high pressure. You aren’t usually cold-calling people. Instead, customers more often come to you.

Overall, you can expect to earn around $42,350 a year once you get the hang of the job. In time, you may even be able to bring home over $73,360, all while helping people plan amazing trips.

6. Advertising Sales Agent

A traditionally commission-based job, advertising sales agents sell ad space to companies, like billboards, radio ads, magazine advertisements, website ads, and even television commercial timeslots. In some cases, they also assist with the creation of the advertisement copy, giving companies some help with designing their ad.

Based on the nature of the role, a solid understanding of both marketing and sales is valuable. That way, you can offer a ton of support to customers, increasing the odds that they’ll keep buying ad space.

In most cases, you can expect to make about $54,940 annually in these kinds of positions. However, some make over $124,030, giving you an idea of how far this career can take you.

7. Recruiter

Now, it’s important to understand that not all recruiters earn commission. Instead, this is more commonly the case with outside recruiters who help client companies find professionals for hard-to-fill positions. In those cases, a recruiter typically makes either a flat fee or a percentage of the new hire’s annual salary as a type of commission.

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There are actually a lot of aspects to working as an outside recruiter. Along with securing business from a client company, you also have to locate candidates and convince them that going for the role you want to fill is a smart career move.

In many cases, you need more than just salesmanship. Understanding the kinds of jobs you hire for also helps, as it makes it easier to identify great candidates for the positions.

Generally, recruiters earn an average of $84,441 a year. However, that can vary depending on your experience level and niche. For example, with legal and executive recruiters, the averages are more like $102,844 and $99,052, respectively. As a result, if you have expertise in the right field, you could certainly earn more.

8. Insurance Sales Agent

In the vast majority of cases, commissions play a big role in an insurance sales agent’s salary. Their main duty is to convince customers to sign up for certain kinds of insurance, such as auto, home, life, and more.

At times, you may specialize in a single insurance category. However, other insurance agents tap on at least a few, particularly if one service is frequently bundled or associated with another. For example, if you sell auto insurance, there’s a decent chance you would also offer homeowners or renters.

Generally speaking, insurance sales agents make around $54,940 a year, but that isn’t always the case. Some actually bring home more than $124,030, which is definitely impressive.

9. Pharmaceutical Sales Representative

If you’re interested in the medical field but don’t necessarily want to offer direct patient care, then working as a pharmaceutical sales rep could be worth considering. You head out and promote your employer’s products or medical treatments, typically by meeting with doctors one-on-one to discuss the offering.

This position does require quite a bit of know-how. Not only do you need solid sales chops, but you also need the ability to quickly learn about new products, allowing you to present them in the best way possible, answer questions about them, and more.

Overall, pharmaceutical sales representatives typically make yearly salaries of about $69,047. If you advance into a senior sales rep role, $82,596 is more common, and pay rates above $93,812 are certainly possible.

10. Talent Agent

When people think about commission work, talent agent isn’t usually what springs to mind. However, that is pretty much how it works. As a talent agent, you represent performers, writers, athletes, or similar people and, when you help them secure work, you typically get a cut.

Exactly how much you can earn certainly varies. However, $75,420 a year is definitely common, and the top 10 percent often cross $190,500.

Putting It All Together

Ultimately, all of the commission-based jobs above are worth considering. Just make sure you’re comfortable with any sales aspects, as those are a common requirement of the work, as well as how the commissions are structured. That way, you can find a great role that offers fair compensation.

Thanks for reading!

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Jeff Gillis( Co-Founder and CTO )

Co-founder and CTO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Jeff is a featured contributor delivering advice on job search, job interviews and career advancement, having published more than 50 pieces of unique content on the site, with his work being featured in top publications such as INC, ZDnet, MSN and more.

Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page.

FAQs

What type of job is usually paid off of commission? ›

For example, salespeople usually make commissions based on the sales they make. Recruiters make commissions as a percentage of the salaries of the employees they place. Stockbrokers make commissions for each client transaction they make. Companies usually pay commission monthly, quarterly or annually.

What is the highest commission percentage? ›

In sales, these incentives often take the form of a commission—an amount that is paid out on top of a regular salary and is based on the percentage of sales that an employee generates. Sales commission rates range from 5% to as much as 50%, but most companies pay between 20-30%.

Why would you be suitable for a commission-based role? ›

Your schedule is your own

For the most part, commission-only gigs are flexible ones. That means that you can set your schedule as you need to in order to facilitate both professional and personal demands on your time. For job seekers looking for work-life balance, a commission-only job can be a great fit.

What is a 100 commission job? ›

100% commission contractors are paid for what they sell. You pay them after they sell something; you're not paying them to sell something. So, their commitment to the agreed sales process, sales cycle, and sales activities simply does not exist.

Which is better commission or salary? ›

While base salary provides stability, commission rewards you when you meet or exceed sales targets. Some employers may grant you the opportunity to earn a higher commission as you continue to perform well.

What are the 4 types of commission? ›

Nine types of sales commission structures
  • Base rate only commission. The base rate only plan pays sales representatives an hourly or flat salary. ...
  • Base salary plus commission. ...
  • Draw against a commission. ...
  • Gross margin commission. ...
  • Residual commission. ...
  • Revenue commission. ...
  • Straight commission. ...
  • Tiered commission.

What is a commission only job? ›

In a commission only sales job, employees make a predetermined percentage of every sale they make but receive no base salary. Because of this lack of base pay, people with commission-only jobs make a higher percentage of commission on their sales.

Is commission a part of salary? ›

It can be part of the salary of an employee or a separate form of income that is paid on a different schedule. It is calculated based on a percentage of total sales. That means the more products or services an employee can sell, the higher the amount they receive.

What are the 3 types of commission? ›

COMMISSIONS
  • COMMISSIONS. Straight | Graduated | Piecework | End of Page.
  • Straight Commission. Straight Commission is calculated to be the person's wage based solely on sales. ...
  • Graduated Commission. Graduated Commission is calculated into a person's pay in addition to his/her regular salary or wage. ...
  • Piecework Commission.

What kind of jobs are commission? ›

9 jobs that earn commission
  • Travel agent.
  • Advertising sales representative.
  • Insurance agent.
  • Financial advisor.
  • Sales consultant.
  • Broker.
  • Sales manager.
  • Real estate agent.
15 Feb 2021

What is a 60/40 commission? ›

For example, a 60/40 pay mix would be a 60/40 base to commission split, which means that 60% of OTE compensation is fixed base salary, and 40% of OTE compensation is Target Incentive (TI), or variable pay.

Is a 100% commission job good? ›

MORE MONEY

Professionals working on 100% commission jobs usually earn more than those doing jobs that are paid a base salary. In case of an increase in sales, then the commission agent sells more and therefore gets a higher income on a monthly basis - that can a lot more in comparison with a person that has a wage.

How do I succeed in a commission based job? ›

Commission Sales Tips
  1. Choose the Right Product. A commission sales associate's success lies in an ability to find a marketable product to sell in the right sector. ...
  2. Clearly Define Your Target Market. ...
  3. Manage Time Effectively. ...
  4. Manage Money Effectively.
2 Oct 2022

Is commission based role good? ›

Working on commission can be a great incentive for some individuals, providing an opportunity to earn far more than a basic salary based on an excellent performance.

What is a 50% commission? ›

In sales, your total compensation could be 50% base salary and 50% commission. So if your total yearly compensation agreement is for $100,000, $50,000 of that is guaranteed for the year and $50,000 is based on how well you perform.

Is 1% a commission? ›

What is a 1% commission Realtor? A 1% commission Realtor is a real estate agent who has reduced their commission fee to 1% of the sale price of your home. This is much lower than the average rate, which is between 2.5% and 3%. You'll still be responsible for the buyer's agent's commission, though.

What is a 50/50 commission? ›

Standard commission rate rules

Rule 1: 50/50 split between base salary and commission. When looking at OTE (On-Target Earnings), the majority of compensation plans have half a rep's earnings being base salary and the other half being commission. While there are exceptions, this is the standard rule of thumb.

What are benefits of commission? ›

Advantages of Commission-based Pay

Highly talented professionals in sales and marketing get more out of commission-based pay since their income relies on how hard they work. The more sales they make, the more generous their compensation will be compared to their less motivated counterparts.

Can you work on commission-only? ›

Commission-only employees are typically independent contractors, meaning they provide work for a company as a non-employee. Independent contractors have to take care of their own taxes using a 1099 tax form provided by the employer and can acquire their own benefits such as health, dental or life insurance.

What are the disadvantages of working on commission? ›

The downside of commission-only pay in particular is that it offers less income security for employees. In some cases, it may even lead to aggressive behaviour that could land your company in hot water. This was the experience of private vocational education providers who paid agents by commission to sign up students.

What is commision rate? ›

The commission rate is the percentage or fixed payment associated with a certain amount of sale. For example, a commission could be 6% of sales, or $30 for each sale.

What is a 2 commission? ›

A 2% commission is just 2% of the sale price: Alternatively, move the decimal place of the sale price two places to the left.

What is a commission of 3%? ›

A commission, in its simplest form, is some percentage of revenue. For example, a salesperson may earn 3% of whatever they sell. If a product is sold for $100, the salesperson would earn $3 from that sale.

Do you pay tax on commission? ›

Bonuses, commission and tips – if your employer pays you a bonus or commission, you must pay tax on it.

How do commission jobs pay? ›

Commission only pay refers to how some California sales employees are paid for their work and/or services. In this arrangement, you earn a commission, or an amount of money, when you sell something. This amount is determined by either the quantity of items you sell, or the value of the item sold.

Are commissions a job? ›

Commission jobs are positions in which the worker is paid primarily through a percentage of their sales total than a salary or an hourly wage. Many of these jobs also include a relatively low base salary someone working on commission relies on superior sales.

What is a 5 percent commission? ›

Salespeople receive a pre-defined percentage of all the sales they make. For example, if you sell $50,000 in revenue while working with a company that pays out 5% of revenue, your commission will be $2,500.

Is 3% commission a lot? ›

No. In fact, many realtors charge less than the standard 3% listing fee. The average real estate commission rate in 2022 is 5.37%. This fee is split between the two agents — often down the middle — which means each realtor earns around 2.72% of the sale price on each transaction.

What is salary plus commission? ›

What Is Salary Plus Commission? When sales organizations opt to pay a combination of salary plus commission, it means salespeople earn a steady, yearly, predetermined salary but can add to that by earning a commission on their sales.

Is 20% commission a lot? ›

The average in sales, though, is usually between 20-30%. What is a good commission rate for sales? Some companies offer as much as 40-50% commission. However, these are typically sales reps that require more technical skills and knowledge, plus have a compensation structure that relies more heavily on commission.

Is 2% a good commission? ›

Working with a 2% commission realtor is a good option for most home sellers. Brokerages that offer 2% listing fees typically provide the same level of service as realtors who charge standard 2.5-3% commission rates.

What is a 95 5 commission split? ›

For agents who do not mind paying an upfront desk fee (which varies from office to office), the 95/5 split is the best option. This means that agents get 95% of each commission and the broker gets 5%, plus the monthly desk fee to cover rent, insurance, and lead costs.

How much is a 10% commission? ›

To calculate the payable commission, multiply the sales revenue by the sales commission rate. A 10 percent commission rate on a $10,000 product deal would pay $1,000 in commission.

Does commission affect profit? ›

Effect on Profit

When you pay a commission, the extra fee is included as part of your total purchase cost. For example, if you buy a product or investment for $950, and your commission is $50, your total cost for profit and loss purposes is $1,000. As a result, the profit when you sell the item is reduced by $50.

Does commission based mean no salary? ›

A sales commission is a sum of money paid to an employee upon completion of a task, usually selling a certain amount of goods or services. Employers sometimes use sales commissions as incentives to increase worker productivity. A commission may be paid in addition to a salary or instead of a salary.

Can you make a lot of money on commission? ›

MORE MONEY

Professionals working on 100% commission jobs usually earn more than those doing jobs that are paid a base salary. In case of an increase in sales, then the commission agent sells more and therefore gets a higher income on a monthly basis - that can a lot more in comparison with a person that has a wage.

What percentage is good for commission? ›

What is the typical sales commission percentage? The industry average for sales commission typically falls between 20% and 30% of gross margins. At the low end, sales professionals may earn 5% of a sale, while straight commission structures allow a 100% commission.

What are the 3 commissions? ›

The Sanbugyou or Tri-Commission (Japanese: 三奉行 San-bugyou, "Three Commissioners") is a collective term for three organizations which oversee every matter in Inazuma. It is roughly equivalent to the Liyue Qixing and the Eight Trades in Liyue, as well as the Knights of Favonius in Mondstadt.

Which industry is best for sales? ›

  • Real Estate Agent.
  • Sales Engineer.
  • Financial Services Sales Agent.
  • Advertising Sales Executive.
  • Insurance Sales Agent.
  • Manufacturer's Representative.
  • Medical Device Sales Representative.
  • Software Sales Representative.

How do I become a successful commission only job? ›

Be honest with yourself. Drive, work ethic, and strong people skills are essential for success in a commission-based job, says Gauthier. "If you have the determination, but cannot connect, it will be a struggle."

What sales jobs pay the most? ›

11 highest paid sales jobs
  • Pharmaceutical sales representative.
  • Direct sales representative.
  • Business development representative.
  • Sales engineer.
  • Sales professional.
  • Sales manager.
  • Real estate agent.
  • Vice president of sales.

How do you solve Commision? ›

A commission is a percentage of total sales as determined by the rate of commission. To find the commission on a sale, multiply the rate of commission by the total sales. Just as we did for computing sales tax, remember to first convert the rate of commission from a percent to a decimal.

What is the formula for commission? ›

How to calculate commission. This is a very basic calculation revolving around percents. Just take sale price, multiply it by the commission percentage, divide it by 100.

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