How to Become a Fashion Retail Manager

Research the requirements to become a fashion retail manager. Learn about the job description and duties, and walk through the step-by-step process to start a career in fashion retail management.

Should I Become a Fashion Retail Manager?

A fashion retail manager oversees the sales staff at a clothing store or in a specific department of a retail business, depending on the size of the establishment. They are responsible for interviewing, hiring and training new employees, as well as handling customer service inquiries. They ensure that all employees stay on-task and that all store operations run smoothly.

Fashion retail managers must have superior team management skills. They should excel at interviewing, scheduling, employer employee relations and communication, because they may field customer questions and complaints. Also, good judgment and decision-making skills are important, as fashion retail managers are expected to take initiative and motivate employees. But perhaps most importantly, fashion retail managers should have an extensive knowledge of fashion. They may be responsible for store displays and inventory and they are expected to understand what customers want, how to sell it and when to order more. Clearly, experience and management skills are key to a career as a fashion retail manager, and while a degree is generally not required for this career, an associate's or bachelor's may improve job opportunities and salary potential. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, retail managers earned an average salary of $42,900 as of May 2015. Now let's walk through the steps necessary to become a fashion retail manager.

Step 1: Gain Entry-Level Work Experience

In most cases, work experience is more important than educational background. Fashion retail managers are generally expected to have worked in a fashion retail establishment where they acquire customer service, merchandising and management skills.

Aspiring fashion retail managers can apply for entry-level positions in retail stores, such as cashier positions. Entry-level jobs enable individuals to gain experience and can possibly lead to a promotion to management later in their careers.

Step 2: Consider Earning a Degree

There are no formal educational requirements for fashion retail managers. However, earning a degree may lead to heightened salary and job opportunities. It can also help entry-level retail workers advance more quickly to management positions. Aspiring fashion retail managers can seek a degree in business, fashion management, retail management or a similar discipline. Be sure to take courses related to accounting, marketing and sales.

Retailers often need workers for nights and weekends, which is ideal for someone working in retail while pursuing their degree. However, if you choose not to work during college, you may want to participate in an internship during college. Your degree program may be able to place you in an internship at a fashion retail store or other retail environment. Interns can learn valuable lessons from an experienced retail manager and make contacts that prove helpful throughout their careers.

Step 3: Advance to Manager

After 3 to 5 years in entry-level fashion retail positions, employees may be qualified for promotion to management. You might request a promotion through your current employer or you may have to search outside of your current store to find an open manager position. Once hired to a management position, you may have to complete a training program. Training programs differ by company, but they generally involve working under an experienced supervisor and learning the policies and procedures essential for running a store. Some employers may require trainees to attend off-site to learn about things like interviewing, inventory and team management.

Fashion retail managers generally need 3 to 5 years of experience in retail before advancing to management, and a degree relevant to the field may improve advancement opportunities.

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