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Education and Training On-the-job training

Salary Average—$23,520 per year

Employment Outlook Poor

Definition and Nature of the Work

Telemarketers are sales and marketing representatives who do business strictly by telephone. A wide variety of products and services from office supplies to savings accounts to resort memberships are sold through telemarketing. Some specialists sell directly, while others gather information that will help identify potential customers or determine the success of new products.

Many telemarketers are required to call people from a long list of names. Once telemarketers engage a potential customer on the phone, they must read a scripted sales pitch to the customer in an attempt to sell him or her a product. In some instances telemarketers make up their own sales script but more often than not the script is provided to them by their employers. Telemarketers may also be responsible for generating their own list of names from telephone directories and lists purchased by their company.

The duties of telemarketers may include confirming orders placed with field representatives and conducting marketing surveys to find sales prospects. In some cases telemarketing is only one part of a company's overall sales operation, and the telephone specialists work as a team with direct-mail or field experts. In these instances telemarketers typically target people who have already purchased merchandise from the company.

Education and Training Requirements

Telemarketing requires no particular educational credentials and training is generally provided on the job. Specialists in the field come from a variety of backgrounds. The most successful workers have good telephone personalities and strong sales skills.

Getting the Job

Jobs for telemarketers are likely to be advertised on career sites on the Internet and in newspapers. Anyone interested in telemarketing can usually find job openings under headings such as "Telephone Sales," "Marketing Research," or "Marketing Services."

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Telemarketers may become supervisors or sales managers. Specialists also may become telemarketing directors for large companies.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 415,000 people held jobs as telemarketers in 2004. Employment of telemarketers was expected to decline between 2004 and 2014. Since the early 1990s the federal government and many state governments have set forth laws and regulations placing restrictions on the telemarketing industry. The most damaging of these laws and regulations was the creation of the National Do-Not-Call Registry. U.S. consumers with no interest in receiving telemarketing calls from for-profit companies could list their number on this national registry. If telemarketers called any numbers on the registry, they faced stiff fines.

People who wish to become telemarketers should choose their employers carefully because some short-lived telemarketing firms operate illegally, failing to deliver the promised goods and then closing or relocating abruptly. The best opportunities for a long-term career are with a company that has been in business for some time and has a reputation for honesty.

Working Conditions

Telemarketers generally work in groups, usually in a special telephone room. They may work days or evenings, and the job may be sedentary if it is confined to telephone calling. Telemarketers are under pressure to meet sales quotas and face repeated and often nasty rejections from the prospective customers they call.

Where to Go for More Information

American Marketing Association
311 S. Wacker Dr., Ste. 5800
Chicago, IL 60606
(800) 262-1150

Earnings and Benefits

Some telemarketers are salaried whereas others work partly or totally on a commission basis. According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics survey, telemarketers earned an average income of $23,520 per year in 2004. Skilled sales representatives who receive commissions may earn much more. Bonuses are sometimes awarded for exceeding quotas.