Retail Management Majors: Salary and Career Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue as a retail management major. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and education information. Schools offering Retail Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Can I Do With a Retail Management Major?

Of the various careers available for retail management majors, you might start as a retail salesperson. Salespersons help customers decide what they wish to buy at a store by informing them of different features about the products sold and assisting them in finding what they need. With enough time and experience, you have the chance to be promoted into a retail manager. Managers train and direct staff in a business, settling disputes from customers and answering questions and complaints, as well as purchase and track inventory.

The following chart provides an overview of the education, job outlook, and average salary in this field.

Retail Salesperson Retail Sales Manager
Degree Required Less than high school diploma Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Sales, communication, marketing, customer relations Retail sales management; marketing, communication; human resource management; customer relations and behavior; applicable ethics and laws pertaining to retail sales; online sales
Key Responsibilities Inform and assist customers in making purchases; sell merchandise and/or services Supervise, coordinate, and train sales personnel; purchase and track inventory; monitor competing businesses; oversee and operate electronic commerce
Job Growth (2014-2024) 7%*5%*
Mean Annual Salary (2015) $26,340*$42,900 (first-line retail sales manager)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What is a Retail Management Major?

Retail management is a specialized business discipline addressing a business's sales and service operations. Undergraduate programs can lead to a Bachelor of Science in Retail Management or Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Retail Management. Both degrees include general business courses, such as business management, marketing, economics, human resource management, and accounting. Specialized retail management courses include legal and ethical aspects of managing a retail establishment, consumer behavior, electronic retailing, and product placement. Although programs differ from school to school, many programs include a required internship in a retail establishment.

What Kind of Career Could I Have?

Retail stores sell merchandise and services to consumers; they can be found all over the United States and may also be based the Internet. You could work for a large department store that sells a wide variety of items or a small store selling one type of item, such as clothing or shoes.

Retail sales offers a flexible career. Many major retail stores are open during the day, evenings, and on weekends and allow you to make a schedule that fits your needs, including working part-time or full-time. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that about 34% of all retail salespersons in the United States work on a part-time basis. As a salesperson, you assist customers by locating merchandise, answer questions about products, and complete sales transactions.

A retail sales position is typically an entry-level job that may offer a promotion to sales manager. Sales managers oversee whole departments or groups of employees in a retail store. With a degree in retail management, you may not want to start in sales, but instead enter into a management trainee program. These programs are designed to give you training in all parts of the business so that you are ready to take a management position after gaining the necessary experience.

What Could I Earn?

Your earnings will depend on the location of your job, the type of retail you choose and the salary structure of your company. Some retail salespersons, such as car salespersons or boutique employees, work wholly or partially on commission. They make a percentage of every product they sell. Department store salespersons may make an hourly wage and earn overtime for working extra hours.

In 2016, PayScale.com stated that the 25th percentile of retail managers made about $33,000 per year and the 75th percentile made about $67,000. The mean annual wage for first-line sales managers was $42,900, as reported by the BLS in May 2015 (www.bls.gov).

What Are Some Similar Careers?

Cashiers identify the price of a good or service and charge customers accordingly. They need little to no education or experience upon being hired, and often work closely with salespersons, or double as both cashier and salesperson. Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers require a bachelor's degree for employment and direct different marketing strategies aimed at drawing interest in a business, similar to how retail managers are responsible for attracting customers to their store via the way they run and present the business. Sales engineers perform duties similar to retail salespersons, only the products they sell and advertise are typically complex scientific machinery and tools requiring more thorough knowledge than traditional retail work. As such, these professionals need a bachelor's degree in order to gain entry-level positions.

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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