Education Portal is now! We still offer the same great content and features, with more added every day, just under a new name. Learn more x

Retail Sales Associate Career Information

Read about the entry-level education requirements and skill sets that can help you qualify for a position as a retail sales associate. Find information about employment and earnings outlook here, before deciding if a career as a retail sales associate is right for you.

View 6 Popular Schools »

Career Definition

Retail sales associates work in apparel, sporting goods and other related establishments, where they assist customers in selecting and purchasing merchandise. In addition to helping customers, retail sales associates stock items, take inventory, clean their work area and handle the cash register. They also create window and store displays and help keep the store presentable for customers. Many retail salespeople are employed on a part-time basis while going to school or working a second job.

How to Become a Retail Sales Associate

Required Education

Although no formal education is required for becoming a retail sales associate, most employers prefer workers who have at least a high school diploma or a General Equivalency Development (GED) credential. Those with an associate or a bachelor's degree are more likely to advance to supervisory positions, such as store manager. Courses that prepare individuals for a career in retail sales include math, economics, English and public speaking. Many companies also provide on-the-job training to new hires.

Skills Required

Retail sales associates should enjoy interacting with shoppers and be skilled at appeasing frustrated customers. A good memory can be helpful when referring customers to merchandise locations. Many stores expect retail sales associates to push certain products, so associates should also be persuasive and well-spoken.

Employment and Earnings Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average yearly pay of a full-time retail salesperson was $25,310, as of May 2012. Nationwide, retail sales positions are projected to grow at an average rate between 2012 and 2022, due to the high turnover of employees. Part-time and temporary positions may be more prevalent during the main shopping seasons (

Alternate Career Options

Insurance Sales Agents

Insurance sales agents who are employed by single-company or multi-company brokerages make cold calls and try to interest potential customers in casualty, health, life and property insurance. While a bachelor's degree may help candidates stand out in the job market, aspiring insurance agents can get started in the field with a high school diploma and on-the-job training. Employment prospects for agents are expected to increase by an average rate nationwide through 2022. Independent insurance agents work on a commission-only basis; those who were employed on staff in May 2012 earned an average yearly salary of $63,400 (

Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives

Sales representatives who work for manufacturers and wholesalers sell products to companies and government agencies, and job duties may include making cold calls and traveling to meet with customers. Sales representatives who specialize in industrial, medical or pharmaceutical products may have a bachelor's degree in biology, chemistry or engineering; high school graduates may be able to obtain jobs selling nontechnical products. Openings for wholesale and manufacturing representatives are projected to be average from 2012-2022. As of May 2012, representatives in general earned average yearly salaries of $64,300 (

Show me popular schools

Related to Retail Sales Associate Career Information

  • Related
  • Recently Updated
  • Popular
Retail Sales Associates: Job Duties & Requirements

A retail sales associate requires little formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and requirements to see if this...

Retail Sales Manager: Job Description & Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a retail sales manager. Get a quick view of the requirements as well...

Retail Sales Merchandiser: Job Description and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a retail sales merchandiser. Get a quick view of the requirements as...

Retail Sales Management Education and Training Program Overviews

Learn about education programs that prepare students to work in retail sales management. Explore program overviews as well as...

Become a Retail Sales Consultant: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Popular Schools

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have complet
    • Currently not accepting applications from Texas residents
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    Which subject are you interested in?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education completed?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Which degree level do you plan to pursue?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must live within close proximity to school locations
    • Must be graduated from high school by 2011
    School locations:
    • Texas (1 campus)
    • Washington (1 campus)

    Classroom-Based Programs

    What is your highest level of education?

  • School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • Alabama (3 campuses)
    • Arkansas (1)
    • Arizona (3)
    • California (14)
    • Colorado (1)
    • Florida (2)
    • Georgia (3)
    • Iowa (1)
    • Idaho (1)
    • Illinois (2)
    • Indiana (4)
    • Kansas (1)
    • Kentucky (2)
    • Louisiana (2)
    • Maryland (1)
    • Michigan (6)
    • Minnesota (2)
    • Missouri (4)
    • Mississippi (1)
    • North Carolina (2)
    • Nebraska (1)
    • Nevada (2)
    • Ohio (9)
    • Oklahoma (1)
    • Oregon (2)
    • Tennessee (5)
    • Texas (8)
    • Utah (1)
    • Virginia (5)
    • Washington (3)
    • Wisconsin (2)
    • West Virginia (1)

    Online and Classroom-Based Programs

    • Associate
        • Associate in Business Management

    What year did you graduate from high school?

Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Ohio (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Cincinnati include:
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate
    • Business
      • Accounting and Bookkeeping
      • Business Economics
      • Business Finance
      • Business Management and Operations
      • Business Support and Administrative Services
      • Human Resource Management
      • International Business
      • Sales and Merchandising
        • Retail Operations Management
      • Specialized Sales

Popular Schools

Avg. Wages For Related Jobs

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics