How to Become a Retail Manager in 5 Steps

Research what it takes to become a retail manager. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average wages, and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Retail Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Retail Manager Do?

Retail managers are in charge of running either a single department within a retail business or the entirety of a store. They oversee and train lower level workers during their shifts and direct them as needed to ensure the store runs efficiently throughout the day. It may be necessary to receive customer complaints and offer solutions to problems they have. Retail managers typically have the authority to make changes to how the area under their jurisdiction functions in order to maximize sales. For more information, take a look at the table below.

Degree RequiredOn-the-job training; associate's or bachelor's may be helpful
Education Field of StudyRetail management
Key ResponsibilitiesManage a retail store, oversee other staff members, deal with customer complaints
Job Growth (2014-2024)*4% (for first-line supervisors of retail sales workers)
Median Salary (2016)*$39,040 (for first-line supervisors of retail sales workers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a Retail Manager?

Retail outlets often hire for various levels of management positions. Typically, each department has its own manager, and a store manager oversees a store's operations. Aspiring retail managers can secure positions with an associate's or bachelor's degree.

Step 1: Research Field and Job Duties

To become a retail manager, you must typically work your way up through the store hierarchy until you reach a management position. Most stores have several levels of management positions, with the store manager holding the highest ranking. Talk to people you may know in such positions. You'll probably find that many retail managers have some college education in the form of an associate's or bachelor's degree. Retail managers manage employees, oversee sales goals, help budget, and see that the store runs smoothly.

Step 2: Secure Employment

Finding employment at a retail store is the first step toward working in retail management. Many people begin in any retail environment to build retail experience, even if their goal is to manage a specific type of retail venue. Retail employees who perform well can move up in the store's hierarchy with continued employment. Typical duties at a retail store may include cash handling, putting out new merchandise, putting merchandise on sale, and helping customers.

Step 3: Consider Formal Education

Retail mangers typically have an associate's or bachelor's degree. They may complete a program in management and retail management or have a general degree in the liberal arts. Typically, some retail management classes are helpful. Technical and community colleges have retail management degree programs, and some of them focus on such specific industries as tourism. Courses might include business math, sales strategy, and marketing.

Step 4: Apply for a Management Position

After building experience at a retail outlet, you'll be able to apply for a lower-level management position. This may be the management of a department or group within the store. Talk to your boss to understand your strengths and weaknesses and to be prepared for the interview. If no positions are available with your current employer, consider a position at another store. Experience levels vary for each type of management position, so be sure to research accordingly.

Step 5: Advance to Store Manager

Many people looking for retail management positions aspire to become the store manager or general manager of a retail environment. Store managers oversee entire branches and direct operations. They are responsible for everything from establishing and meeting sales goals to hiring and firing employees. If they are employed by a chain, they are responsible for how their stores perform in the overall company. These positions may not come up all the time, so pay attention to other stores' needs. In a corporate environment, you may be able to get a job managing a different store in the company.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Many retail managers get their start by becoming a retail sales worker, eventually working up to managerial positions within the company over time. Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers work within companies to plan projects that will interest consumers in buying a product or service. Market research analysts observe market conditions and predict how particular products or services may sell in the future.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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