Jobs in retail

Jemma Smith, Editor
September, 2016

Retail jobs cover a variety of functions from shop floor to head office roles. Discover what retail careers involve and which is right for you

Antiques dealer

You'll buy and sell old objects and collectors' items such as jewellery, art, furniture, glass or china. You'll research the identity and value of objects, buy items from auctions, markets and private owners and sell these on to the public from shops or stalls at antiques centres.

There are no entry requirements but short courses, a diploma or degree in subjects such as art history may prove useful. You can also enter the profession through work experience in an antiques shop or auction house. The majority of antiques dealers are self-employed so salaries vary. You'll need good business sense, an eye for spotting treasure and excellent negotiation skills.

Beauty consultant

Working on beauty counters, often in department stores, you'll drive sales and advise customers on which products to buy. Other duties include demonstrating products and giving makeovers. Regular training may be required to keep up to date with new products.

Qualifications in retail, customer service or beauty therapy may help but are by no means essential. Salaries range from £12,000 to £13,000, rising to £19,000 once you've gained experience. For roles such as counter or regional manager you could earn up to £30,000.

Betting shop cashier

Working up to 40 hours a week in a high street betting shop you'll explain odds and the different ways of betting, use computer systems to take bets, pay winnings and balance takings at the end of the day. You'll need a good head for numbers and a keen eye to spot suspicious or under-age gambling.

There are no entry requirements although employers expect candidates to have some previous customer service experience and a strong interest in sport. Salaries start at £13,000 but can rise to £45,000 if you manage a group of shops.


You'll need a love of books, good people skills and a keen business mind to succeed in this customer-facing role. You'll be involved in the retail of books and associated products and will advise on the variety of titles available, order and display stock and liaise with publishers and their representatives.

Although this area is open to all graduates, a degree or HND in literature or business and management may increase your chances of entry.

Starting salaries range from £14,000 to £17,000. At senior level you could earn £20,000 to £40,000.

Discover more about the role of a bookseller.

Call centre manager

If you thrive on leading a team in a customer-focused role a career as a call centre manager could be for you.

You'll ensure that calls and emails are answered in a timely and appropriate manner and responsibility for the daily management of the centre through the effective use of resources.

First posts tend to be at senior adviser or team-leader level, with a salary ranging between £18,000 and £26,000. At manager level, salaries vary between £20,000 and £60,000 with opportunities to earn commission.

Entry is open to all graduates and those with a HND, although some call centres require their staff to have specialist knowledge or fluency in a foreign language.

Gain an insight into the role of a call centre manager.

Car salesperson

Excellent communication and numerical skills and an aptitude for sales and negotiation are required for a career as a car salesperson.

You'll work for a dealership selling new or used cars to customers. You'll arrange test drives, work out finance, complete paperwork and meet sales targets. Working hours are typically 40 to 45 hours per week and you could potentially earn up to £40,000, with commission, once experienced.

You don't need a degree but employers will expect sales experience, knowledge of cars and a driving licence. You can also get into this job via an apprenticeship.

Commercial art gallery manager

To be successful you'll need a combination of artistic awareness, business acumen and interpersonal skills. You'll manage the sales and marketing areas of running a commercial art gallery and communicate directly with artists and dealers. You'll select art and artists to enhance the gallery's reputation and bring in money from the sales of their artwork.

You may need to start out as a gallery assistant (£16,000 to £19,000) in order to gain experience. Gallery managers can earn £25,000 to £40,000, whereas gallery directors can earn in excess of £60,000.

Commercial gallery management is open to all graduates, but the following degree subjects are particularly useful:

  • art history/history of art
  • arts management
  • business studies
  • fine art/visual art
  • marketing and sales
  • modern languages.

Find out more about working as a commercial art gallery manager.

Customer service manager

This retail job is all about putting the needs of the customer first. Your aim is to develop the idea of excellent customer service throughout the organisation you work for by helping to develop policies, measuring satisfaction, managing a team of staff and handling customer enquiries face-to-face.

Salaries for trainee customer service managers fall between £18,000 and £25,000. Experienced customer service managers can earn £30,000 to £45,000, and may exceed £60,000.

The job is open to all graduates, however the following degree or HND subjects may improve your chances:

  • business studies
  • consumer studies
  • management studies
  • marketing.

Some employers prefer graduates from disciplines that are relevant to their particular sector, such as retail or hospitality.

Learn more about what to expect as customer service manager.

Dispensing optician

Working as a dispensing optician you'll fit and sell glasses and other optical aids, such as lenses, to adults and children, working from the prescriptions of optometrists and ophthalmologists. You'll advise customers on lenses and frames including how to wear and care for them.

Working hours are generally 9am to 6pm and you’ll need to pass a three-year course in ophthalmic dispensing at a training institution approved by the General Optical Council (GOC).

Pre-registration students can earn around £14,000 to £18,000 a year. Once qualified your salary can range from £18,000 to £30,000, while practice managers can earn in the region of £30,000 to £45,000.

Take a closer look at the qualifications you'll need to become a dispensing optician.


Day-to-day you'll work from a shop, garden centre or department store designing, making and selling flower arrangements to customers for a variety of occasions. To be successful you'll need creative flair, manual dexterity, knowledge of plants and flowers and customer service skills.

You can enter this line of work through a floristry course at college, via an apprenticeship or by gaining relevant work experience.

You'll start on a salary of £10,000 to £14,000, which rises to £20,000 with experience.

Logistics and distribution manager

Not all retail jobs are confined to the shop floor. As a logistics and distribution manager you can work in offices, warehouses or stockrooms as you organise the storage, distribution and delivery of goods.

Understanding the whole supply chain is important so that you can coordinate it effectively. You'll also need excellent time management, commercial awareness and numerical skills and a logical and systematic approach to work.

Jobs are open to all graduates but a degree, HND or foundation degree in business, economics, information systems, management or transport may help.

Salaries are between £15,000 and £19,000. With increased responsibility salaries can range from £25,000 to £35,000. Middle to senior managers can earn between £45,000 and £60,000

There is an increasing demand for logistics and supply chain managers thanks to growth of internet retailing. Discover how to get a job as an online retailer.

Read more about the role of a logistics and distribution manager.

Personal shopper

If you have excellent people and communication skills you could put them to good use as a personal shopper. The job involves advising customers on the products that meet their needs, with an end goal of making a sale.

You'll need strong product knowledge and the ability to reassure customers of your expertise. There are no set requirements for entry, although some employers may look for experience in dealing with customers. Qualifications in fashion or design may prove useful.

At the beginning of your career salaries can range from £14,000 to £18,000. With experience you could earn up to £25,000.

Purchasing manager

If you're good with numbers and enjoy negotiating and communicating, this could be the job for you.

Purchasing managers are responsible for buying the best quality equipment, goods and services, at the most competitive prices, to enable a company or organisation to operate.

Graduate salaries may start at around £20,000. With relevant experience salaries of £25,000 can be achieved. With promotion you can earn £30,000 to £45,000. Senior managers and purchasing directors earn salaries of £50,000 to £100,000.

This area of work is open to all graduates, however large retail stores and wholesale distribution centres prefer applicants who have completed a degree with a business emphasis.

To find out more about employers and career prospects see purchasing manager.

Retail buyer

As a buyer you're responsible for planning and selecting a range of products to sell in retail outlets and for reviewing existing items to ensure products remain competitive.

A degree in retail or business equips you with greater commercial awareness, therefore increasing your chances of success. Graduate programmes are open to those who have secured a 2:2 or above.

You'll need strong analytical, numerical and teamworking skills, as well as excellent communication and creative flair.

As a junior buyer you can expect a salary between £19,000 and £25,000. With experience and promotion this could rise to between £30,000 and £60,000. Senior buyers earn in the region of £55,000 and £70,000.

For further information on qualifications and skills see retail buyer, also discover how to get into buying and merchandising.

Retail jeweller

Working for large high street stores or independent jewellers you’ll promote and sell a variety of products such as precious metals, gems and fashion accessories like watches, silverware and clocks.

You'll arrange displays, carry out repairs, advise customers, design and make items and meet sales targets.

Starting salaries range from £16,000 to £22,000. With experience you could earn up to £35,000.

Working hours vary from 37 to 40 hours per week.

Retail manager

Responsible for the day-to-day running of stores or departments you'll aim to maximise profits and minimise costs. You'll ensure that staff are working towards targets and that customer care standards are met at all times.

This area of work is open to all graduates although a HND or degree in accounting and finance, business, fashion management, marketing or retail management may prove useful.

You'll need to be skilled in prioritising and planning workloads and have the ability to motivate and lead a team. All relevant retail experience is welcomed, whether through part-time, placement or volunteering roles.

Starting salaries range between £20,000 and £30,000. With experience, salaries rise to £35,000 to £60,000 or even up to £70,000 in larger shops or supermarkets.

To learn more about responsibilities and possible employers see retail manager.

Retail merchandiser

Working closely with buyers, retail merchandisers predict up-and-coming sales trends to ensure maximum profitability. You'll ensure that products appear in the right store, or on a website, at the appropriate time and in the correct quantities.

Jobs are open to all graduates although a degree in accountancy or finance, business, economics, mathematics or retail management will stand you in good stead. Some employers prefer graduates from business-related or maths-based degrees due to their analytical abilities.

Salaries for assistant merchandisers range from £16,000 to £18,000, rising to £22,000 with experience. With promotion a merchandiser can expect to earn between £28,000 and £36,000. Senior merchandisers earn between £45,000 and £65,000. At the top of the profession, a head or director of merchandising can earn in excess of £85,000.

To find out more about work experience and career prospects see retail merchandiser.

Stock control assistant

To carry out this retail job you'll need to be computer literate and good with numbers in order to keep records up to date.

Working in stock control you'll keep track of product levels and make sure there are enough supplies to meet customer demand.

Previous experience in retail, office administration or stock control will be an advantage but is not essential.

Duties include processing orders, ordering new stock, receiving deliveries, carrying out audits and updating computer systems.

Entry-level salaries fall between £13,500 and £18,000. With experience this can increase to £30,000.

Visual merchandiser

Sometimes known as window dressers visual merchandisers develop, deliver and communicate visual concepts and strategies to promote retail brands, products and services in-store, in catalogues or online.

It's your job to create eye-catching displays, using your creative flair and imagination and your eye for design, colour and style.

Jobs are open to all graduates, particularly useful subjects include:

  • fashion design
  • fine art
  • interior design
  • surface pattern design
  • textiles
  • 3D design.

Assistant visual merchandiser salaries start at £12,000 to £18,000. Experienced or management roles attract salaries of £20,000 to £27,000, with senior levels starting on around £30,000. Those working at director or international level can earn between £45,000 and £60,000.

For a more in depth idea of what to expect see visual merchandiser.

Warehouse manager

Responsible for a vital part of the supply chain process warehouse managers oversee the efficient receipt, storage and dispatch of goods.

Working hours typically include early starts, late finishes, weekends and shift work.

Entry is possible with any degree but subjects such as business and information systems, business, management and economics, retail management, supply chain management or transport, distribution and logistics will be particularly advantageous.

You will also need excellent people management skills, including the ability to lead and motivate others, technical and IT skills and the ability to work under pressure and to tight deadlines.

Salaries for graduate-training schemes in warehouse management range from £18,000 to £25,000. Experienced warehouse managers can earn £22,000 to £35,000, while senior managers can earn in excess of £40,000.

Gain an insight into the role of a warehouse manager.

Wine merchant

Working in the wine trade you'll source, research, buy and market new wines.

Along with an excellent sense of taste and smell you'll need business experience and extensive product knowledge.

Without a degree you could start off as a sales assistant in an off-licence or supermarket and work your way up, alternatively as a graduate you could work for a wine retailer as a management trainee.

In an entry-level position you could earn £16,000 to £18,000. With significant experience salaries can reach £35,000.

Find out more