Employment Trends

A Comprehensive Guide to Getting Different Types of Retail Jobs

retail-jobs
Written by Kate Lopaze

if you’ve ever worked in retail, you know how challenging it can be. we live in a consumer-centric society, and dealing with consumers can be…well…not fun. but if you’re on the front lines in stores and customer service, you have some of the most versatile skills around: handling payment and conducting transactions, selling products, and dealing with people of all stripes. it’s a field that calls for odd hours (and possibly thanksgivings spent watching people tussle over discounted tvs), and it’s not the highest-paying field. but it pays the bills, and it happens to be the most common job in the united states. basically, wherever there are people buying things, there are retail employees there to help facilitate those sales, and provide a good customer experience.

if you’re interested in different retail jobs, let’s take a look at some of the opportunities out there in this crucial service industry.

1. retail salesperson

2. customer service representative

3. retail sales manager

4. merchandise displayers and window trimmers

5. stock clerk

6. cashier

retail salesperson

retail-salesperson

the job: as a salesperson, you’re the front lines in the retail war. you are likely responsible for selling merchandise in a large or small store, helping customers, processing payments, and providing direct customer service.

the skills: in your job as a retail salesperson, these skills will serve you well.

  • people skills
  • communication skills
  • computer skills (especially point-of-sale, or pos, systems)
  • organizational skills
  • basic math/financial skills
  • team player skills
  • problem solving skills
  • energy and enthusiasm
  • being detail-oriented
  • trustworthiness

the requirements: there’s no formal education or training for a retail salesperson, though some employers may require a high school diploma. stores typically provide on-the-job training for new employees, and some may have a probationary period while the employee is training.

the pay: the median hourly pay for retail salespeople is $10.60, and the median annual salary is $22,040. jobs may be full-time, part-time, seasonal, or contract (temporary) positions. per the u.s. bureau of labor statistics, about 1 in 3 retail salespeople worked part-time in 2014.

the outlook: retail is a very solid bet: there are approximately 5 million retail salesperson positions out there in the u.s., and the field is expected to grow about 7% by 2024. the demand for more retail salespeople is a pretty continuous one.

customer service representative

customer-service-representative

the job: as a customer service rep, you’re often in charge of damage control, working with customers to improve (or redeem) their experience with your store. you are likely responsible for fielding customer queries and complaints, providing information, processing or changing orders, handling transactions, and ensuring a good customer experience. customer service representatives can be found in just about any industry that provides goods or services.

the skills: as a customer service representative in retail, you’ll need skills like the following:

  • people skills
  • communication skills
  • computer skills (especially pos systems)
  • organizational skills
  • basic math/financial skills
  • team player skills
  • problem solving skills
  • energy and enthusiasm
  • being detail-oriented
  • trustworthiness

the requirements: there’s no formal education or training for retail customer service representatives, though a high school diploma (or equivalent) is typically required. stores usually provide on-the-job training for new employees, making this a good entry-level option.

the pay: the median hourly pay for retail customer service representatives is $15.25, and the median annual salary is $31,720. jobs may be full-time or part-time. per the u.s. bureau of labor statistics, about 1 in 5 customer service representatives worked part-time in 2014.

the outlook: this is a fast-growing field, as retail expands via traditional stores and e-commerce. the u.s. bureau of labor statistics predicts that demand for customer service representatives of all kinds will grow by at least 10% by 2024.

retail sales manager

retail-sales-manager

the job: as a retail sales manager, you supervise and coordinate retail salespeople and associates. in addition to supervising employees, you may also be responsible for customer service and administrative functions like purchasing, budgeting, merchandising, accounting, and personnel management.

the skills: as you work your way up the chain as a manager, you’ll need these skills.

  • leadership/management skills
  • people skills
  • communication skills
  • computer skills (especially pos systems)
  • organizational skills
  • strong math and financial skills
  • team player skills
  • problem solving skills
  • energy and enthusiasm
  • being detail-oriented
  • trustworthiness

the requirements: there are no formal educational requirements to be a retail sales manager, but you will need retail experience, as well as strong management and organizational skills. this is a job that calls for the ability to keep the ship steady in any storm, so the more experience and demonstrable skills you bring, the better.

the pay: the median hourly pay for retail sales managers is $20.63, and the median annual salary is $42,900. retail management roles are typically full-time positions.

the outlook: as with most retail positions, the demand for managers will remain steady. there are currently about 1.5 million retail sales managers in the u.s.

merchandise displayers and window trimmers

merchandise displayer

the job: as a merchandise displayer/window trimmer, you’re responsible for planning and creating appealing displays of goods and products to attract customers and entice them to buy. if your favorite part of school projects was making dioramas, this may be the retail path for you.

the skills: these skills will serve you well as a merchandise displayer/window trimmer:

  • creativity
  • communication skills
  • organizational skills
  • team player skills
  • problem solving skills
  • energy and enthusiasm
  • being detail-oriented

the requirements: a high school diploma is usually required for this kind of position, and vocational training is usually seen as a plus in hiring. previous experience is also a plus, but not necessarily required. on-the-job training is often available for new employees.

the pay: the median hourly pay for merchandise displayers is $14.32, and the median annual salary is $29,790. jobs may be full-time, part-time, or on a contract basis.

the outlook: merchandise displayers/window trimmer positions are expected to keep pace with overall retail growth by 2024.

stock clerk

stock-clerk

the job: if you’re a stock clerk, you can probably save some money on that gym membership—you’re the brawn of the operation, often working behind the scenes to make sure everything runs smoothly. stock clerks receive inventory and move it as necessary, checking for damage, record keeping, and working with in-store computer systems. you may be responsible for filling shelves, tracking inventory, and set up sales displays as well.

the skills: as a stock clerk, these are the skills that will help get you in the door.

  • people skills
  • computer skills
  • organizational skills
  • team player skills
  • problem solving skills
  • energy and enthusiasm
  • being detail-oriented
  • customer service skills

the requirements: there’s no formal education or training for retail stock clerks, though a high school diploma (or equivalent) is typically required. stores usually provide on-the-job training for new employees, making this a good entry-level option for those interested in retail and strong enough to move heavy objects and stay on your feet for periods of time.

the pay: the median hourly pay for stock clerks is $12.47, and the median annual salary is $25,940. jobs may be full-time or part-time. per the u.s. bureau of labor statistics, about 1 in 5 customer service representatives worked part-time in 2014.

the outlook: the number of stock clerks is likely to stay relatively flat, per the u.s. bureau of labor statistics, but it’s a field with a strong amount of turnover, so job openings are fairly consistent.

cashier

cashier

the job: as a cashier, you’re holding a lot of power—the money—in your hands. as a front-line customer serviceperson, you’re responsible for handling customer purchases, working with payment systems, and maintaining scrupulously accurate transactions.

the skills: as a cashier, you’ll need these skills:

  • people skills
  • communication skills
  • customer service skills
  • computer skills (especially pos systems)
  • organizational skills
  • basic math/financial skills
  • team player skills
  • problem solving skills
  • energy and enthusiasm
  • being detail-oriented
  • trustworthiness

the requirements: if you’re just starting out or need a job with little prior experience in retail, cashiering is a good option. employers may require a high school diploma (or equivalent), but there’s no specific educational requirement for retail cashiers, making this a good entry-level option. trustworthiness and accuracy are key, so those are skills that you really want to emphasize as a prerequisite to working as a cashier. stores typically provide on-the-job training for new cashiers.

the pay: the median hourly pay for cashiers is $9.18, and the median annual salary is $19,310. jobs may be full-time or part-time.

the outlook: because of advances in automated checkouts and online sales, the outlook for cashiers is a little slower than most retail positions: about 2%, according to the u.s. bureau of labor statistics.

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About the author

Kate Lopaze

Kate Lopaze is a writer, editor, and digital publishing professional based in New York City. A graduate of the University of Connecticut and Emerson College with degrees in English and publishing, she is passionate about books, baseball, and pop culture (though not necessarily in that order), and lives in Brooklyn with her dog.

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