Commission Jobs

What's Trending: Commission Pay

What’s Trending: Commission Pay
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Some of the highest paid-out positions are more often avoided than pursued because of one phrase: “commission pay.” While this could be because many professionals are used to traditional salaries or hourly pay, what might be some underlying reasons a job seeker would turn down a commission-based role?

We know a little something about commissions, but for an unbiased analysis, here’s what others have to say.


Independence and earning potential are a highlight for commission-focused opportunities, but they aren’t for every professional, as this Flexjobs piece shares. When listing the pros and cons of these roles, the article points out that structure, dedication, and accountability must be vital cornerstones personally instilled by those taking on commission jobs. 

“Some commission-only jobs pay their employees after every few weeks—or months. If you don’t set up daily or weekly goals for yourself, you might find that you work harder when you know that deadline (and your potential paycheck) are impending. That’s why those who choose commission-only jobs have to think of the bigger picture and work diligently, even on days when they aren’t about to get paid.”

In this instance, a con can be a pro if you’re willing to put in the work to reap the rewards. Mindset plays its role in many different industries and professions, and it’s a game-changer for commission jobs. It’s one thing to be in control of your work, and it’s another to take control of your success.


Dr. Erin Eatough with BetterUp shares in her article how a high ceiling for financial reward can be the “ultimate motivator” for some people. While a salary has its limitations, it’s still a guaranteed form of income rather than that of a commission-based role.

“Some people like the security of a fixed income, while others love the thrill of the sales hunt.”

The thing is, fixed pay doesn’t leave room for increased earnings from paycheck to paycheck. For professionals that crave the opportunity to continuously make more without corporate hierarchies deciding what their income ceiling is, commission roles are ideal. 

The Muse

The Muse’s Dawn Papandrea writes on why professionals shouldn’t be intimidated or withdrawn from commission roles. With testimonials from three different workers currently with commission-based job titles, Papandrea draws the conclusion that this pay structure is not only lucrative but worth the risk for those that want to see their effort paid out in full.

“Depending on who you talk to, getting the same paycheck every two weeks can be comforting— or frustrating. Some people who stay in salaried positions for years often end up feeling like their efforts don’t match their compensation, and that 2% yearly raise isn’t exactly life-changing.”

Relating back to Dr. Eatough’s argument from The Muse piece, the security of a fixed salary could very well be seen as a financial limitation. With this in mind, the idea of “knowing one’s worth” isn’t as easily quantifiable by one’s capped salary. Though each worker in Papandrea’s article stress the fact that commission jobs take extreme determination and drive to be successful, it’s ultimately the best pay structure for those who are steadfast in their commitment to earning their desired income.

The Balance

This article by Alison Doyle breaks down the various commission styles different opportunities may provide. This piece is important for those who may be new to commissions because it gives workers an idea of when and how they’ll receive their pay.

After the nitty-gritty of commission variations, there’s a subsection supposedly dedicated to the benefits of these roles, though it serves more as a warning than anything else. The most glaring being:

“[R]emember that developing a clientele takes time. When you begin a new position, you will likely need a few months to really start earning your true potential.”

The sentiment isn’t to deter professionals from seeking out commission-focused positions, but rather to encourage those who’ve started in such roles to keep at it and trust in their ability to become successful. Since, as we know, success does not happen overnight, and in this case, may not happen until you’ve spent enough time honing in on your craft.

The takeaway

There are a lot of similar fundamentals between salary-based roles and commission-based roles. Just to list a few,

  • You need to be willing to put in the work each day to earn a paycheck.
  • You have to set up your work schedule to meet deadlines and expectations.
  • You must be accountable for areas of improvement in order to grow and become more successful.

Even just these few things divert from the two compensation styles because, for salary positions, there’s no assurance you’ll have the potential to earn more. Whereas for commission positions, depending on the role, of course, the sky is the limit.

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