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?

Fashion retail managers oversee 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 and hiring new employees, as well as training them for the job and handling customer service inquiries. They ensure that all employees stay on-task and that all store operations run smoothly.

Career Requirements

Degree Level No degree is required, but an associate's or bachelor's may improve career outlook
Degree Field Management, business or related field
Experience 3-5 years of retail work experience
Key Skills Customer service skills, people skills, persistence, selling skills, problem solving skills, management skills; ability to use calendar and scheduling software, gift registry software, time card software, retail software, time accounting software
Salary (2015) $41,635 per year (Median salary for retail managers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job postings (November 2012), O*Net OnLine, (July 2015)

Step 1: Gain 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 learned 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, salary is typically commensurate with the highest educational degree achieved, and a degree in retail management could help a candidate obtain a job more quickly and make him or her more eligible for advancement.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) a college degree may also be preferred or required by some employers. Potential fashion retail managers can seek a degree in business, fashion management or a comparable discipline. Any courses related to accounting, marketing or sales can be beneficial.

Success Tip:

  • Participate in an internship. College and university programs may be able to place students in an internship program at a fashion retail store. Interns can learn valuable lessons from an experienced retail manager that can help them in their career.

Step 3: Complete Training

Training programs differ by company or particular establishment. During a training period, fashion retail managers will work with an experienced supervisor and learn the policies and procedures included in their new job. They may also be required to attend off-site training to learn about things like interviewing, inventory and team management.

Success Tip:

  • Continue education. While not required, fashion retail managers can voluntarily continue their education to improve their skills and further their careers. Managers without degrees can pursue degrees, or degree-holding managers can take classes in sales or fashion to learn more about the products they sell.

Step 4: Hone Skills

Fashion retail managers must have superior team management skills. They should excel at interviewing, scheduling, employer-employee relations and communication because they will be fielding customer questions and inquiries. Good judgment and decision-making skills are also important for fashion retail managers; they will be 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.

Step 5: Acquire a Supervisor or Manger Position

According to the BLS, retail workers will have the opportunity to acquire managerial positions in their field. Once you've gained a certain amount of experience, there will eventually be offers and openings for the right candidate to step into the role of a retail manager. And with more responsibility comes more earning potential.

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