Retail: an industry for everyone, regardless of experience
From skilled professionals to first-time job seekers, retail offers a variety of opportunities, each with their own unique benefits, challenges, and career trajectories. Check out these seven retail jobs to figure out which one might be right for you.
7 best retail jobs for all levels of experience
Consider beginning your career in retail as a customer service representative, answering questions and helping customers find what they need.
One of the most common entry-level retail positions is the cashier, which involves greeting customers, handling purchases, processing payments, and more. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national median salary for cashiers is around $10 per hour, though it could rise with improved minimum wage laws. Demand for cashiers is estimated to grow 2 percent between 2014 and 2024, so there are still opportunities available. If you don’t have prior retail experience or are looking for a part-time position, working as a cashier is a great option, and career advancement opportunities are available.
2. Stock Clerk
Another common entry-level job, stock clerks are responsible for receiving retail merchandise and stocking and restocking shelves. At smaller, boutique locations, these responsibilities are typically handled by floor employees, but at larger stores, there are entire teams of stockers operating behind-the-scenes! The average hourly wage for stock clerks is $11.50, and no experience is required — but you’ll need to be in good physical shape to lift boxes, climb ladders, and operate equipment.
3. Customer Service Representative
A third position that doesn’t require much experience, customer service representatives answer customer questions, resolve issues, and process returns and other transactions, often working on the sales floor as well as in the back of the store. With an average annual salary of $33,000 per year, customer service representatives will need a positive attitude and a helpful disposition in order to succeed.
4. Assistant Store Manager
With enough experience, retail workers can advance to assistant store managers. Assistant managers are responsible for executive many daily tasks, such as training new employees, helping customers, and ensuring the sales floor is neat and organized. The average national salary for assistant store managers is $40,000, but assistant managers at larger stores and high-end boutiques can earn ever more.
5. Store Manager
The next rung on the retail ladder is store manager: these employees oversee other staff members, coordinate marketing and events, and manage behind-the-scenes operations for their stores. The average annual salary for store managers is $44,000, but with greater pay come additional responsibilities: store managers are often held accountable for the success or failure of retail locations. As a result, they need to be capable leaders and savvy businesspeople with a passion for the products they sell.
Buyers are responsible for buying the products a store sells; they need to be able to source merchandise, draft and analyze sales proposals, and negotiate contracts among retailers, vendors, and suppliers. The average annual salary for buyers is $63,000, but this is far from an entry-level position: typically, buyers have considerable experience in a specific area of retail — experience they need to successfully negotiate with these parties. Buyers tend to work for larger brands with many locations, but some work for smaller boutiques or specialty establishments.
7. General Manager
In the retail industry, general managers typically oversee a department within a regional or national outlet. They’re responsible for coordinating policies and standards between stores, communicating key performance indicators, and collaborating with managers and supervisors at individual retail locations. Their average annual salary is more than $100,000, so considerable experience in retail is required and additional qualifications (such as a bachelor’s or advanced degree) are recommended for those who aspire to be general managers.
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