These days, many people are trying to land six-figure careers to provide a good lifestyle for themselves and their families. In fact, terms such as “six figures”, “jobs that pay well”, and “good paying jobs” receive thousands of searches each month.
So what’s the fastest path to six figures today?
In years past, the surest path to a six-figure income was via traditionally prestigious careers such as becoming a doctor or lawyer. These days, with all the hype around software & technology, many people think that software engineering is the answer.
After all, we see Google, Facebook, and other tech giants in the news all the time, and it’s well-known that their engineers are very well compensated.
But there’s another side of the tech industry that’s equally lucrative, but often ignored. Though it may surprise you, there’s some pretty compelling evidence to suggest that the fastest path for the average person to earn six figures per year is software sales.
With that in mind, let’s compare the timeline to six figures for each of these career paths:
As you can see here, the timeline, cost and degree of training needed to achieve a six-figure income can vary widely depending on the path you choose.
If you have a passion for helping people overcome healthcare challenges, are deeply empathetic, and don’t mind a long post-secondary educational journey filled with deep, complicated work - you should seriously consider becoming a physician.
Similarly, if you are the type of person who deeply enjoys taking a deep-dive into the nuances of legislation, and finding out how it might apply in a given situation, you should seriously consider becoming an attorney.
However, if you’re very sociable, enjoy helping people find a solution to their problems, and would like a faster path to a six-figure career, you should seriously consider software sales.
Of course, speed alone isn’t enough to choose software sales as your next career, so let’s take a look at some other things you should know about the industry.
One of the key things to look for when considering any job is the industry outlook. After all, you want to make sure you’re not entering a field that’s in decline, making it hard to find a job or advance your career.
Strong, growing industries help to support long-term job security and advancement opportunities. Luckily, the software industry has seen years of sustained growth, outpacing both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq.
According to a new report released by the Software.org, the software industry in the United States is growing twice as fast as the nation's economy, with jobs directly created by the industry growing 7.3% to reach 3.1 million jobs total from 2016 to 2018.
Another key point to keep in mind is how an industry would fare in an economic downturn. Fortunately, most software businesses provide tools to other businesses that enable those companies to produce more with less - something that becomes even more important when times aren’t great.
If you’ve decided you want to get into the software industry, there are several different paths you can take - from user interface design, product management, HR and more.
That being said, the two most common paths to high-earning tech careers we see people grappling with are engineering and sales.
Both software engineering & sales offer high earning potential and plenty of career advancement opportunities, so which should you choose?
Well, there are a few factors to consider:
When comparing these two career paths, one major difference to consider is your earning potential, and what income sources you’ll have access to.
If you choose to go the software engineering route, you’ll likely have a good starting salary, and receive modest raises every year or two as long as you’re progressing toward becoming a senior engineer, but there’s not a lot of performance-driven compensation to be had.
One thing that engineering does tend to offer more of is equity - stock that is included as part of your compensation and typically “vests” over a period of years, meaning you don’t own it immediately, but are given access to the stock based on loyalty.
In rare cases where the startup you joined early on turns out to be a multi-billion dollar juggernaut, this can be an incredibly valuable asset. Some early-stage employees of tech giants such as Facebook, Google, and Uber have made millions off the equity included in their compensation, but this is incredibly rare, as many companies will never experience a large liquidity event, but worth noting nonetheless.
Sales, on the other hand, is largely performance-driven. That’s as true for software sales as any other type of sales.
In fact, performance is what separates those software sales representatives that make six figures from those that merely get by. This is because “OTE”, or “on-target earnings” are a key piece of compensation in software sales.
At Prehired, new members earn, on average, $110,000 during their second year working in the industry. Roughly half of that total compensation number comes in the form of commissions & bonuses.
These students are able to achieve that because they’ve already studied the techniques & habits of top salespeople, practiced with real-world tools such as contact databases and CRMs, and more. Once they get into the real work environment, they’re set up to succeed.
From there, it’s only a matter of discipline and perseverance.
The second, and perhaps biggest factor to consider is what you want your day-to-day work life to be like - and which career path offers the best opportunity for you to achieve that.
As a software engineer, you’re likely to begin your day with a standup meeting where you and everyone else in your immediate team talk about what you’re working on, as well as any issues you’re running into.
Outside of that, much of your work will be focused time, primarily spent alone either writing new code, researching potential solutions to an issue, debugging your code, reviewing someone else’s code.
All this focused, solitary work can be a great fit if you’re introverted, analytical, and not easily frustrated by difficult problems that seem to offer no obvious solution.
Sales, on the other hand, is a highly social activity. Outside of meetings with the team, you’re likely to spend the vast majority of your time reaching out to, or speaking directly with potential or current customers.
To succeed in a software sales career, you’ll need to be very comfortable socializing, naturally curious, and empathetic. After all, your job is to learn the customers pain points, show that you understand, and guide them toward the best solution you can offer.
As of the time of this writing, there are 15,360 open software sales positions listed on the job search website Indeed.
Furthermore, that demand is growing over time, and software sales positions are available in almost any major city in the United States. Here’s a map of all the cities where there are positions available:
Basically, if you live in a major metropolitan area, or are willing to relocate, there will be software sales openings near you. No longer is it just New York or San Francisco - even cities like Charlotte, Tampa, and Phoenix have plenty of openings.
Here as well, software engineering offers a similar number of opportunities - there are 109,764 software engineering openings at the time of this writing, centered around the same cities as software sales.
With sales, your progress and contribution to the company is usually very easy to track. Managers will have no trouble figuring out how much revenue you’ve generated for the company, what your close rates are, and more.
Because of this, top performers tend to rise in sales organizations very quickly. It’s not unusual for a rep that does well to move from entry-level sales to becoming an Account Executive, or moving into enterprise sales (where the deal size & commission checks are larger) in under a year.
The software sales industry has plenty of advancement opportunities as well - both to move up to larger accounts and become a “closer”, or to enter sales management.
Over time, you can progress to become an Account Executive, responsible for leading a small team of Sales Development Representatives to close deals, a Sales Director leading an entire team of Account Execs and SDRs, or even a VP of Sales or Chief Revenue Officer, responsible for the entire company’s sales department.
All of this is possible largely because of the growth & competition present in the industry. Many companies in the space are growing their sales teams over time, which opens up new opportunities for advancement for top performers.
Software engineering also offers plenty of advancement opportunities, with many engineers progressing to become Senior Engineers, and a decent amount moving beyond that to become managers, tech leads, and more. Though, it is worth noting this promotion typically takes 2-5 years, instead of the 6-12 month timeline for your first promotion in sales.
Another factor to consider is how enthusiastic you are about continuing education.
Of course, in any field, there’s always a need for continuing education. In sales, you’ll primarily need to deepen your understanding of people, how to gain their trust, and the specifics of how your company’s customer base makes decisions. You’ll also need to learn new CRMs, databases, forecasting tools and other resources as your company’s tech stack changes, or you choose to join a new company.
The core principles of what makes an effective salesperson change little over time, because human nature is constant. All that changes are the mediums we use to reach potential customers, and the tools we use to make our communication more effective & efficient.
Software engineering, on the other hand, often has intensive ongoing education requirements. As new frameworks, protocols, and languages are introduced you’ll need to familiarize yourself with them to stay relevant in the market for engineering talent.
In order to get involved in software sales, you need to out-compete hundreds of other applicants and then navigate 3-4 rounds of interviews.
Even if you manage to secure a software sales role, you’ll need to know the tools, skills, and workflows that will allow you to perform. Otherwise, you’re likely to be among the 36% of SDRs who don’t make it past their first year in the job (while their peers are getting promoted to Account Executives).
Trying to tackle this process without preparation is likely to be frustrating and unfruitful. Fortunately for you, Prehired’s Science-Based Sales® program has a track record of helping our students prepare for and land jobs with companies like Google, Amazon, Zoom, Salesforce, Hubspot and more.
Best of all, we’ll let you attend for free until you land a high-paying software sales job.
Inside, you’ll learn:
If you’re among the 5% of applicants we accept into the Science-Based Sales® program, Prehired will enable you to get into a software sales role faster than any other high-earning career path.
Our Science-Based Sales® training program takes only twelve weeks, and the average Prehired member earns $73,000 in their first year, and $110,000 in their second year of software sales.
Ready to land a six-figure sales job to provide a better life for yourself & your family? Apply here today.
As Prehired's Founder & CEO, Josh Jordan is leading the mission to help 10,000 people launch 6-figure software sales careers by the end of 2024.
How? With Prehired's Science-Based Sales® process -- born from helping dozens of software companies build their sales teams...
...and then consulting with hundreds of Software Sales Managers on exactly what they wanted new hires to know...
...and then helping hundreds of regular folks break into software sales in 12 weeks, on average.
Josh created Science-Based Sales® to help nearly anyone succeed in software sales, because it creates clarity for prospects. No killer closer instincts, charisma or kissing up to decision makers needed.