By Bridget Quigg
From cash registers to stockrooms, the retail industry can be a great place to find a job that requires little job experience or education. What might that job pay and where can you go from there? If you work your way up the ranks and become a buyer for a department store, you could make over $80,000 per year. Not bad. In addition, retail merchandising jobs can help boost your resume with sales experience.
Check out this list of retail jobs and what they pay, according to online salary database, PayScale.com.
1. Retail Cashier
Wage: $8.85/hour plus bonus
Job Description: Total bills on a cash register, receive money, make change, fill out charge forms, and give receipts.
If you have no experience and want to be trained on the job for a new career, cashiering is a place where you can start. Many retail cashiers start at minimum wage but receive increases over time. There are possibilities for bonuses based upon performance and loyalty, depending on the store. Plus, you can get experience on your resume that will lead to better job opportunities in retail or another industry. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects available positions for cashiers to decline in the coming years due to increased online shopping and self check-out stations, high turnover means that there are often new positions available for you to get a foothold in the industry.
2. Retail Sales Associate
Wage: $9.55/hour plus bonus
Job Description: Attend special training on products and services. Stay current with trends or styles. Assist customers in selecting products, answer questions and check for stock and availability.
This is the person at the store who helps you find the specific product you’re looking for at a price you can afford. They may run the cash register, but more than anything, they need to be knowledgeable about the products they are selling. If you are a people person and are really interested in a particular retail area – e.g. video games, sports gear, luggage, novelty food items – this could be a very fun job for you. The BLS notes that retail salespeople often need to work evenings or weekends and that the job can get very busy during sales or popular shopping days. But, if you’re a successful salesperson, those are also times when your commissions can really see a boost. The BLS notes that speaking additional languages can improve your success as a retail sales associate.
3. Retail Store Assistant Manager
Wage: $42,150 annual median salary
Job Description: Assist in overseeing the day-to-day retail operations and staff. Monitor workflow and schedules. Manage and stock inventory at specified levels. Sell to customers and handle their complaints. Assist in the selection and training of staff. Help ensure monthly sales quotas are met.
The retail store assistant manager is about as busy as the store manager, but more likely to be involved with the customers and staff on the sales floor. They maintain a close relationship with the sales team and provide them with support and ideas for improving their sales. They also work closely with the store manager to keep him or her informed about employee performance and customer trends. This first step into management is a smart one to take. The BLS expects the number of retail salespeople to grow as the population grows. So, experience in hiring, training and scheduling retail sales people could provide some job security long term.
4. Department Manager, Retail Store
Wage: $36,000 annual median salary
Job Description: Select, train and develop staff in a particular store department. Ensure monthly sales quotas are met by staff. Sell to customers. Manage and stock inventory.
Formal wear. Fishing gear. Housewares. Holiday decorations. Department management is a great job for someone who is really excited about a particular product or service. Every department manager in a retail store needs to have a depth of specific product knowledge. Certain departments are more lucrative because they sell “big-ticket” items, so getting the opportunity to run one of those can provide an extra boost to your income. According to the BLS, these high-dollar departments include jewelry, furniture and electronic equipment. So, if you love talking diamonds and pearls, that pricey interest could really pay off for you.
5. Retail Store Manager
Wage: $43,639 annual median salary
Job Description: Oversee the selection, training and development of staff and ensure monthly sales quotas are met. Sell products to customers and handle escalated customer complaints and issues. May be involved in marketing and budget management.
The store manager must have patience to deal with demanding customers, enthusiasm to keep the staff motivated and business sense to make smart decisions day-to-day. It’s possible for a store manager to come up from the cashier or sales position with no college degree. However, those with a college degree might be able to go directly into a management training program at a store and skip the cashier or sales associate experience. Store managers often work long hours. They must watch the budget and customer-buying trends, as well as monitor the store’s appearance overall. Is the sales staff dressed neatly? What products would customers be interested in buying that are not on the shelves right now? It is this person’s responsibility to keep their store in business.
6. Loss Prevention Manager
Wage: $44,500 annual median salary
Job Description: Reduce inventory losses inside retail stores. Manage in-store security programs that focus on minimizing inventory losses due to employee theft, shoplifting, fraud, vendor theft, and accounting errors.
A loss prevention manager is a retail cop who prevents shoplifting, catches shoplifters in the act and also makes sure that employees don’t get sticky fingers or report their earnings dishonestly. Security consultant and author of Security Expert’s Guide to Premises Liability Litigation Chris McGoey says, “The best loss prevention managers have good investigative instincts and high moral standards. Men and women can be equally successful. Size should not be an issue unless the manager is working alone and expected to make shoplifter apprehensions.” This job requires tact, tight lips and often, knowledge of video surveillance systems. You may be a witness in court proceedings and you’ll need to be available to work evenings and weekends.
7. Retail Sales Manager
Wage: $45,600 annual median salary plus bonus
Job Description: Maximize sales by creating a productive sales team. Ensure monthly sales quotas are met. Oversee day-to-day retail operations and staff; monitor and prioritize workflow and schedules.
The retail sales manager is largely responsible for creating a winning sales team. This person needs to make sure that their sales force meets preset sales quotas each month or quarter. They are involved not only in hiring salespeople, but also setting the standard for sales methods. Do you want your staff to always check if the customer buying a pair of pants might want a matching belt or socks? Which products bring in the most profit and how could you sell more of them? These are the creative, day-to-day decisions a retail sales manager makes. It can be a high pressure job with a lot of competition. You and your team have to prove yourself daily.
8. Buyer, Department Store
Wage: $81,400 annual median salary
Job Description: Buy the goods and services the store needs to resell to customers.
Do you love to shop? Do you have a good sense for what’s hot and what’s not? If you love to stay on top of trends in clothing, sports equipment, computers or cars, you could excel as a buyer. Typically armed with software that tracks the purchases being made at your store and staying up to date on the economic environment and consumer trends, you make choices that could make or break your store’s reputation and financial success. That responsibility comes with high stress and a hefty paycheck. In a large store, you may buy for one or two departments, but at a smaller store you may choose every product offered.
9. Do Bigger Price Tags Mean Bigger Paychecks?
According to PayScale.com, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Kohl’s are some of the most lucrative places to work in the retail industry. See PayScale’s comparisons for national, median hourly and salary rates across all positions for some top retail stores.
|Hourly Rate by Retail Store |
|1. Neiman Marcus ||$15.06|
|2. Nordstrom ||$14.62|
|3. J. Crew || $13.49|
|4. Lord & Taylor ||$12.10|
|5. American Eagle Outfitters ||$11.72|
|6. Sears ||$11.30|
|7. Macy’s ||$11.04|
|8. Abercrombie & Fitch ||$11.02|
|9. Kohl's ||$10.99|
|10. Dillard's ||$10.27|
|11. JCPenney ||$9.87|
|12. Ross ||$8.19|| |
|Annual Salary by Retail Store|
|1. Neiman Marcus ||$56,910|
|2. Kohl's ||$54,250|
|3. Macy's ||$52,110|
|4. J. Crew || $49,560|
|5. Nordstrom ||$47,080|
|6. Ross ||$46,800|
|7. Sears ||$44,600|
|8. Abercrombie & Fitch ||$44,470|
|9. JCPenny ||$43,930|
|10. American Eagle Outfitters ||$37,500|
|11. Dillard's ||$36,860|
| || |
10. Hourly Pay Comparison for Sales Associates
Salespeople are paid differently depending on where they work. Which sales team is the best one to join when it comes to hourly pay? Nordstrom sits near the top of the department stores when for sales associate hourly pay. Nordstrom pays over a dollar an hour more, on average, than Macy’s and over three dollars more than Sears. See the list of hourly pay for sales associates below.
|Hourly Rate by Retail Store |
|1. Nordstrom ||$10.20|
|2. Dillard's ||$10.20|
|Tied for 3. JCPenney || $8.90|
|Tied for 3. Macy's ||$8.90|
|Tied for 4. American Eagle Outfitters ||$8.30|
|Tied for 4. Kohl's ||$8.30|
|5. Sears ||$6.60|
Source: All salary data is from PayScale.com. The median hourly rates listed are for workers with 5-8 years of experience and do not include bonuses, commissions or profit sharing. The median annual salaries for full-time workers with 5-8 years of experience include any bonuses, commissions or profit sharing.
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