Retail Associate Job Description

  • post a jobOn average, retail sales associates make $9.50 an hour
  • One-third of retail sales associates work part time
  • Retail sales associates are usually required to work evenings and weekends

What do retail sales associates do?

They're everywhere you shop, assisting you with hard-to-find items, answering questions and ultimately getting you to buy what they're selling. They provide a variety of services, from helping you pick out items to ringing up your purchases. Like cashiers, retail sales associates use cash registers to process transactions and are responsible for keeping track of all the money inside. You might encounter retail sales associates several times a day without realizing it - they work at department stores, grocery stores, cell phone stores and even car dealerships.

You've got to have a lot of patience to make it as a retail sales associate because unfortunately, you will run into your fair share of difficult customers. The most successful sales associates are polite, friendly and have a very outgoing personality. If you're not a naturally happy person who likes to work with others, then retail sales is not for you.

As a retail sales associate you've got to know what you're talking about; if you sell cars, you'll need to know specifics about each car's features, your dealership's financing policy and warranty services. The same goes for people who sell TVs, mattresses and clothing.

Most retail sales associates work indoors - but don't be surprised to find yourself outdoors, sometimes in bad weather, if you decide to sell cars, lumber or gardening equipment. Retail sales associates are on their feet a lot, so comfy shoes are a must.

Long hours and weekends are the norm for retail sales associates. Since most retail stores are busiest in November and December, you'll be required to work nights, weekends and holidays during the busy season.

How much do retail sales associates make?

You can make some pretty good money if you've got the skills. If you score a job with a good commission program and have a knack for sales, you can make upwards of $19 an hour; most car salespeople are in this range. On average, retail sales associates make $9.50 an hour. Be aware that some entry-level jobs will start you out as low as minimum wage, which is just $7.25 an hour.

What are the education requirements to be a retail sales associate?

It's a good rule of thumb that the more education you have, the better. Most entry-level retail sales associate jobs don't require you to have a degree, but most places will require that you have at least a high school diploma. If you're interested in someday becoming a manager, a college degree may be required.

Career paths for retail sales associates

You probably won't get a job selling Porsches right off the bat. Many entry-level sales associates start off selling small-ticket items, such as cosmetics. As they gain experience they move up to bigger items, like electronics and jewelry. After that, it's common to see sales associates move into management positions. A college degree, especially one with a concentration in business, will help you out if you're hoping to be a retail sales manager.

The future of retail sales associate jobs

It's a good time to become a retail sales associate. According to the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics), over half a million jobs will be created in the retail sales industry by 2016. Many new jobs will be at supercenters and warehouse clubs as they become more and more popular.

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