How to Become a Retail Manager

How to Become a Retail Manager: Career Path Guide

Like many careers, there are many different paths to becoming a retail manager; this career is open to pretty much anyone with a combination of practical experience or relevant education, strong interpersonal skills, accountability, and a general understanding of business. 


This work would involve overseeing and scheduling staff, dealing with the public, resolving customer complaints, and monitoring inventory levels. This field also offers diverse opportunities for advancement, as well as potential opportunities for retail store ownership. 


If retail management sounds like a promising career field so far, then read on below; we’ll fill you in on the details, such as how you can get into this profession, how much you could earn, and of course, what you’d be doing once you get there.



Education Needed to Become a Retail Manager

The educational requirements for becoming a retail manager can vary from job to job. For example, some employers may only require that you have a high school diploma combined with relevant work experience in a retail setting.


Other employers however, will require that you have a certificate, diploma or degree in a relevant field, such as business or retail management. This is especially true of larger organizations. Some may even hire you as part of an internship or apprenticeship training program while you are still in school, or once you are a new graduate. 




Experience You May Need

If you lack post-secondary education in a related field, not to worry, you still have reliable options for getting into this field. For example, many retail managers to start by working in an entry-level job in retail (such as sales) and working their way into a supervisor position, and then into a management position. 


Another common route into this position is to move into this field from the outside. If you have supervisory or management experience in a different sector (preferably something customer service or sales oriented), then you can always try to get a job with a retail organization. 



Who Creates Jobs for Retail Managers?

Who Owns the Store?: As a retail manager, you could be the employee of a store that’s owned by an individual, a family, a large organization, or a publicly traded organization. You could even be self-employed, and own the store yourself. 


Type of Store: As for the type of store you could work in, that can vary quite a bit. You could work in any type of store that you can imagine that sells goods or services directly to consumers. This could include a bookstore, clothing store, grocery store, sporting goods store, electronics store, or a store that sells any other types of goods or services.



Is This Career Right for You?

To be a retail manager, you should have the following attributes:


• An interest in a fast-paced, public-facing career

• An interest in a career with varied opportunities for advancement 

• You enjoy overseeing the work of others

• You’re well organized and can manage a budget

• You’re confident when making decisions

• You’re willing to be accountable for the decisions you make 

• A strong commitment to customer service

• The ability to work under pressure and handle challenging situations

• General business sense



Career Advancement Possibilities 

If you display competence and dedication in your work, career advancement opportunities will open themselves up to you. Examples of career opportunities in this field include (but aren’t limited to):


• An increase in wage, salary or bonuses

• Partnership in the location

• Opening your own retail store

• Moving to a bigger, busier or more profitable location

• Moving into a regional or district manager role

• Moving into corporate-level executive management positions with a large organization

• Moving into a specialized area of the business in a head office function, such as customer service, training, purchasing, marketing and operations management



Success Tip: Having an education related to retail management can usually help you advance more quickly, especially in corporate-level positions.





Details of the Career: Job Description

As a retail store manager, you would be responsible for planning, directing and controlling the operations of a store that sell goods and services. 


This would include overseeing the day-to-day running of a store, motivating staff to achieve sales targets, organizing promotional events and monitoring industry trends.



General Job Duties

Although your specific job duties would vary, you could expect to be responsible for the following as a retail manager:


• Listening to and resolving customer complaints

• Possibly providing assistance to employees if they are busy

• Overseeing the day-to-day operations of the store

• Determining daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal staffing requirements

• Recruiting, hiring, training, supervising and supporting staff

• Preparing staff schedules

• Monitoring product inventory levels

• Identifying trends in consumer purchasing in order to anticipate products that will be in demand

• Overseeing store security measures

• Determining and implementing price points

• Devising and executing marketing and promotional strategies 



What Kind of Salary Can You Earn?

The salary level you could earn as a retail manager can vary greatly, typically depending on the following factors:


• Your professional qualifications (levels of education, experience, etc.)

• The size and budget of your employer

• The region in which you work

• The scope of your job duties and responsibilities

• Whether you are a salaried employee or paid by the hour

• The type of remuneration package you are offered (such as if you are entitled to bonuses, sales commissions or partial ownership)


Retail Manager Salary - Alberta: According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working as part of the Retail & Wholesale Trade Managers occupational group earn an average salary of $65,309 per year.


Retail Manager Salary - Canada: According to Service Canada, the average salary level of Canadians working in the Retail Trade Managers occupational group is $46,400 per year.


Retail Manager Salary - United Kingdom: According to the National Careers Service, the salaries of Retail Managers are between £20,000 and £30,000 a year. With experience, earnings for larger store managers can rise to over £40,000 a year, possibly reaching £70,000.


Retail Manager Salary - United States: According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage of Americans working in the First-Line Supervisors of Retail Sales Workers occupational group is $42,900 per year.



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Work Environment for Retail Managers

Hours: In a full-time job you would normally work between 35 and 40 hours a week. Part-time work is often available. Your hours are likely to include weekends and possibly evenings, depending on the store's operating times. Working overtime may be required on occasion, such as when there are staffing shortages or special events or sales to prepare for.


Setting: Retail managers often have an office base in their store, and typically split their time between their office and the sales floor. They may work in a variety of settings, ranging from climate controlled and comfortable indoor environments to outdoor environments.


Conditions: Retail managers frequently have contact with the staff they supervise and store customers. They typically divide their work time between the sales floor, their office, and the stock room.



Careers Similar to ‘Retail Manager’

Listed below are occupations in our database that have similar responsibilities, and/or require similar skills, or are in the same sector of industry, as Retail Manager:


Bank Manager

• Department Manager

• Purchasing Manager

• Restaurant Manager

• Retail Sales Associate

• Sales Representative

• Small Business Owner

• Visual Merchandiser




The following resources were utilized in the preparation of this How to Become a Retail Manager career guide:



Occupations in Alberta: Retail Store Manager.” (March 31, 2019). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 12, 2020.

Occupational Employment and Wages:First-Line Supervisors of Retail Sales Workers.” (March 30, 2018). Bureau of Labor Statistics - United States Government website. Retrieved January 12, 2020.

Explore Careers:Retail Manager.” (n.d.). National Careers Service website. Retrieved January 12, 2020.



Scholarships for Becoming a Retail Manager

The Applicable Majors section below shows fields of study relevant to a career as a retail manager. You can search for scholarships matched to that/those fields of study on the following pages:


Management Scholarships

Political Science Scholarships


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Becoming a Retail Manager: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the college/university majors listed below can be helpful (or necessary) for becoming a retail manager. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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