The median pay for retail sales workers is $22,900 per year and the job outlook is at a 2 percent growth. As a retail sales worker, you will assist customers in finding the products they want and processing their payments. Your training will include customer service, security, policies and procedures, working a cash register and handling payments. You may sell clothing, furniture, books, cosmetics, computers, automobiles or a variety of other goods. Some items, such as cosmetics and computers, may require special training that often continues throughout your employment.
Some of the positives of working in retail sales include:
- Minimal education and experience
- Getting your foot in the door for positions with higher pay and responsibility
- Gaining portable skills
- Working flexible hours — part time or full time, evening and weekend hours often available
- Finding job opportunities in every location
- Earning income while going to school
Discovering your passion
If you have a friendly, outgoing personality, good customer service and selling skills, and are persistent, a position as a retails sales associate may be the first step in an interesting and rewarding career. Some tips for success shared by the National Retail Federation include the following:
- Build rapport and appreciate the differences in people you work with and sell to.
- Sell products that are useful or enjoyable to customers.
- Educate customers on product differences and costs.
- Be honest.
- Learn to upsell, cross-sell or add-on— if you sell a dress, ask if shoes, a purse or accessories are needed.
- Learn from successes and mistakes — you'll have both.
- Go the extra mile — work harder and smarter to gain the business.
- Don't act desperate or pushy — always try to give the customer what they need by being flexible and thinking outside of the box.
- Ask for referrals if a customer mentions their positive experience.
- Be confident in yourself and your products.
- Be respectful even if you disagree or feel the customer is misinformed.
- Be the “bright spot” in your customer's day.
As you gain experience, you may find a variety of advancement opportunities including department supervisory and management positions, store management, district management and merchandising. You may also find sales positions that offer higher earnings and commission opportunities including automobiles, jewelry, furniture and electronics.
Education and training
You may determine that you need to further your education to advance your career. Explore the many tools and resources on MySECO to assist you in achieving the necessary education requirements. College Scorecard is a great starting point for researching and selecting an education institution. You can also use the Scholarship Finder to assist you with locating funding relevant to the military community to pay for classes. Check to see if you are eligible for My Career Advancement Account Scholarship assistance to help with education or licensure costs.
Search for retail positions with Military Spouse Employment Partnership organizations that are committed to recruiting, hiring, promoting and retaining military spouses in portable careers including the following:
- Army & Air Force Exchange Service
- Acosta Sales and Marketing – Military Division
- Coca-Cola Company
- New York & Company
- Michaels Stores Inc.
- Ross Stores, Inc.
Look for opportunities in your local community in retail sectors including clothing and accessories, general merchandise, motor vehicle and parts dealers, building materials and garden equipment, sporting goods, hobby, books and music.
Consider volunteering, if possible, or doing an internship and proactively networking to build your contacts and experience. Tell family, friends, co-workers and all others that you are looking for retail positions and ask for contacts they might have who can assist you in building and expanding your network.
Professional organizations and networking
You may wish to consider joining a professional organization in your career field to gain a better understanding of current industry trends in retail sales. Professional organizations are great ways to continue your education through workshops and conferences, which will add to your transferable skill set as you move. Networking with other professionals will give you an edge in meeting the right people who may have the connections you need to obtain an interview or restart your career at your new location. Read The Value of Professional Associations for more information on how becoming a member can help enhance your career.
To learn more about retail careers, review the Research Occupations tool on MySECO and investigate your options. Take self-assessments to make sure your skills and interests align with your career choice. Talk to others in the field and get their feedback. Call 800-342-9647 and speak with a career coach to discuss career or education choices, searching for a job or overcoming challenges. Coaches are available to review your resume, practice interviewing, discuss networking or assist you in understanding employer requirements for this field.