Buying things is fun, whether online, in stores, or from vendors on the street. Commerce is clearly a large part of our culture, and is a great area for growth. With over 14 million people working in retail not including the wholesalers and truck drivers providing the goods, it’s definitely competitive, so you have to be on your toes! The sheer size of the industry means there are plenty of employment opportunities for cashiers, sales people, managers, product buyers, marketers, and more. Some jobs require college degrees, others come with experience. One of them might be a perfect fit for you, and with the explosion of internet commerce with websites like, you can dominate with some business sense and entrepreneurial spirit. Providing a unique retail experience is certainly a viable career option, so if you enjoy people, products, and problem-solving, you might want to give it a shot!

Three Reasons to Explore A Career in Retail

  1. Retail businesses often have part-time opportunities available for high school age students, which serve as a good introduction to the business world, while being flexible enough to work around school and family activities.
  2. The skills and experience you gain as a salesperson can be valuable in many other areas of business and may give you an edge, helping you move on to selling more expensive or complex products, or into other areas of business.
  3. With the increased buying power of Latinos, bilingual sales opportunities are growing in both with physical and online retailers.

Your Pathway to A Career in Retail

  • High School: It’s never too early to get experience interacting with customers and handling money. Church or family yard sales provide great opportunities, and once you turn sixteen you’ll be eligible for retail jobs in department stores, malls, and grocery stores. Experience is key.
  • Community College: Community colleges have courses for every role in the retail industry, from cashier to sales representative, to store manager. Since real-world experience is essential to being promoted, always supplement your education with retail jobs when you’re out of the classroom.
  • Four-Year School: Four-year institutions and online universities offer many relevant classes, majors, and internship opportunities for upper-level positions. You can study business and management, or if your school of choice has more specific majors, follow a retail-focused path.

Retail Positions

Buyers choose and purchase goods that a company needs. Wholesale and retail buyers choose the merchandise or commodities that a company sells to consumers in a store.  Purchasing agents buy goods such as wood or grain that a manufacturer uses to create a final product. All types of buyers investigate price, quality, availability, and consumer demand when buying products.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in business, economics, or engineering although requirements vary
Full or Part Time: Full

Store Managers oversee retail stores. They interview, hire, train, and manage retail workers, cashiers, customer service representatives, and other employees. Store managers work to ensure customer satisfaction and are sometimes in charge of ordering, budgeting, and purchasing products. In larger companies store managers specialize in certain departments.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in a variety of majors or experience in sales
Full or Part Time: Full Time

Customer Service Managers oversee the interactions between a company and its customers. They manage other employees as they answer customer questions and requests, process returns, deal with complaints, and handle repairs.  Customer service managers hire and train employees, balance budgets, supervise customer satisfaction, resolve problems, and work with other managers.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in business, management, or liberal arts or extensive experience in sales and customer service
Full or Part Time: Full Time

The 10 Best Employers in Retail

  2. REI
  3. Maurices
  4. Nike
  5. Coach
  6. Hot Topic
  7. Costco Wholesale
  8. Nordstrom
  9. L.L. Bean
  10. Best Buy

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