In an economy controlled by consumer purchases, retail jobs are everywhere. Lots of people begin their careers in retail, and many work their way up in the field to advanced positions. If you’re looking for a job yourself, you might be wondering if breaking into the retail field is worth it. Are there chances for advancement down the line? Can you find a well-paying job in this field?
What is a retail job?
Retail is a term used to describe the sales of products to consumers. Anywhere you can buy something for your own use is considered a retail establishment. From fast-food restaurants to computer software stores, the industry is very broad. Retail companies focus mainly on the maximization of sales and profit, which is driven by product availability, customer service and pricing.
It takes a whole team to run a successful retail enterprise. Each retail job is essential to the business’s success, from cashiers to stylists to managers. Many retail workers begin at the bottom and work their way to higher positions, but sometimes, college education is essential to advance in your retail career.
11 Top retail jobs.
Average salary: $22,430 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Cashiering is one of the most basic points of entry into the retail field. Cashiers are responsible for accurately ringing up customers’ purchases at the register, taking payments and returning change. In upper-end department stores and other large companies, cashiers are paid quite well for their experience level.
2. Retail sales associate
Average salary: $24,340 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
These employees sell the store’s products to customers. They usually spend time on the sales floor, helping customers find what they need and helping them choose additional products as well. Sales associates often serve as cashiers, too. Like cashiers, sales associates may find higher-paying jobs in large corporate stores.
3. Sales consultant
Average salary: $48,645 per year (PayScale)
Sales consultants sell products to customers on behalf of their company. They seek out new customers, create business relationships and match customers’ needs with company products. Most sales consultants are trained on the job, and some are paid on commission. Commissions make for higher earning potential.
Average salary: $30,250 per year (Glassdoor)
Clothing retail stores are the main employers of stylists. These fashion specialists provide excellent one-on-one customer service by helping customers match different products to achieve stylish looks. Stylists follow fashion trends and are personable to help customers feel great about their purchases.
Average salary: $67,600 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
The merchandise sold by a company needs to be selected and purchased carefully by someone with knowledge of how they will sell. This is where a buyer comes in. Buyers meet wholesalers to discover new products and assess the value of current merchandise on the sales floor. Buyers generally need a bachelor’s degree, but some reach the position with pure retail experience.
Average salary: $56,482 per year (Salary.com)
To maximize sales, these specialists are responsible for the way merchandise is presented and displayed to consumers. Depending on retailer needs, they might set up product displays, arrange goods on the store floor and manage sales and pricing signs for customers. Merchandisers also manage store inventory and analyze sales trends to assess product placement.
7. Department manager
Average salary: $46,895 per year (Indeed)
When a company is divided into different areas or departments, each may be managed by a different individual. For example, in a grocery store, someone manages the dairy department separately from the meat department and so forth. Department managers are responsible for all aspects of their department, from staff efficiency to department sales goals.
8. Sales manager
Average salary: $124,220 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Sales managers lead the sales team to increase sales by setting goals and mentoring staff to become better salespeople. They analyze sales numbers and are in charge of employee turnover. This position often, but not always, requires a bachelor’s degree. Knowledge of market trends is a necessity.
9. Assistant manager
Average salary: $45,059 per year (PayScale)
Assistant managers help general managers to keep store operations on track. They assist with tasks such as staff management, inventory duties and customer issue resolution. Assistant managers are often in training to become managers and can serve in their manager’s place when they’re absent. This job is generally gained with experience in a retail setting.
10. General manager
Average salary: $54,759 per year (PayScale)
General managers (GMs) are in charge of managing staff, inventory, customer satisfaction, revenue generation and cost reduction. GMs communicate about store progress with those higher in the chain of command and implement changes to improve sales. The duties of general managers vary depending on the industry in which they work. Those who start out in lower-ranking retail positions can work their way up to management positions, but college management education doesn’t hurt.
11. Regional manager
Average salary: $83,325 per year (Glassdoor)
In large businesses, regional managers oversee multiple stores in specific regions. They hire, train and work with general managers at each store to ensure company standards are met at each store. You can be promoted from within a company to a regional manager position or learn management skills in college before pursuing jobs in this field. However, it’s important to gain on-the-job experience in your industry so you have a full understanding of how the company works.
Important skills for retail jobs
Retail jobs are diverse in nature depending on the industry, customer base and company type. However, the same skills are required to be successful in all retail jobs, no matter the industry or position level. If you’re thinking about entering the retail field, ask yourself if you have these essential retail-worker skills:
- Communication. From management positions all the way down to cashier jobs, communication skills are essential to accomplish retail tasks.
- Customer service. You need to be able to talk to and connect with customers to provide them with a great experience in your retail company.
- Attention to detail. Whether you’re managing inventory or ringing up items on a register, it’s important that you can closely monitor what’s going on to avoid mistakes.
- Physical stamina. Retail involves a lot of standing and running around to complete tasks. You’ll need to be able to work long hours at times or visit multiple locations within a day.
- Time management. Things move quickly in retail. You’ll need to complete tasks in a timely manner and pay attention to meeting important deadlines.
- Problem-solving. You might be stuck dealing with angry customers or a missing shipment of goods. To handle these situations effectively, you’ll need to think quickly of ways to solve them while keeping customers happy and not losing sales.
- Flexibility. Anyone working in retail will tell you that you need to be flexible to be successful. Schedule changes, holiday events and long work weeks can present a challenge when it comes to managing your work life. It’s best if you have few outside commitments so you can easily maneuver last-minute schedule changes.
- Teamwork. Retail runs on teamwork. You have to work well with others to accomplish company goals. Plus, teamwork creates a healthy work culture and enjoyable workplace.
- Outgoing personality. It really helps to be outgoing both with customers and other staff, because it creates a positive and welcoming atmosphere for everyone.