Associate of Retail Management: Degree Overview

An associate degree program in retail management teaches students the business and customer service skills they'll need to pursue purchasing or supervisory positions in retail.

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Essential Information

Whether the program culminates with an Associate of Applied Science (AAS), Associate in Science (AS) or Associate of Art (AA) degree, a retail management curriculum provides instruction in the skills needed to supervise and train employees, interact with customers and maintain daily operations of a retail outlet. These programs take two years to complete and cover fields of marketing, operations management and computer tech for business. Applicants of these programs must have a high school diploma or equivalent.


Associate of Retail Management

Retail management degree programs teach the fundamentals of keeping financial records, creating promotional campaigns and using technology in a business setting. Such a program places an emphasis on basic math for accounting, effective communication, leadership skills and topics unique to the retail industry.

In addition to customer service knowledge, an associate degree program in retail management can teach business practices that might aid managers, store owners and retail buyers in performing their daily tasks. The program may prepare students through a strong core of business courses. A typical degree program includes the following classes:

  • Business communication
  • Financial accounting
  • Human resource management
  • Human relations
  • Retailing

Popular Career Options

Retail sales workers wishing to advance in the industry, or those who are new to the field, can pursue a retail management associate degree. The retail industry is comprised of a wide variety of professional positions, and educational standards for these positions may vary greatly between employers. Some popular occupations in the retail industry include:

  • Store department manager
  • Merchandise manager
  • Shift supervisor
  • Retail buyer
  • Purchasing manager

Career Outlook and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has predicted a 2% job growth rate for buyers and purchasing agents from 2014-2024. The BLS also reports that, in 2015, purchasing managers made a median annual salary of $108,120. Wholesale and retail buyers (except farm products) earned a median annual salary of $52,940.

Continuing Education Information

Favorable employment opportunities in the retail industry may exist for applicants who have earned a college degree, acquired sales experience and have completed some management training. Graduates of associate degree programs in retail management can go on to earn a related bachelor's degree in an area like business, marketing, merchandising or retail management. Some companies offer on-the-job or corporate-sponsored training programs for management trainees and retail supervisors. Some retail and merchandising managers hold a master's degree in business, although many acquire their positions through a combination of work experience and continuing education.

Individuals wanting a career in retail purchasing and management may seek either an AAS, AS or AA in Retail Management. These programs provide the training needed to manage employees, financial records and day-to-day operations of retail businesses.

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