How to Become a Retail Manager: Education and Career Roadmap

Mar 10, 2020

Find out how to become a retail manager. Research the education and training requirements and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in retail.

Should I Become a Retail Manager?

Retail managers supervise sales and service employees in a company's department, store, or online environment. Some of their job duties include formulating sales plans, managing inventory, and performing customer service. Standing for extended periods of time might be necessary, and retail managers often work weekends and nights. Education requirements for retail managers range from a high school diploma to a bachelor's degree. Prospective employers also typically require industry-related work experience.

Career Requirements

Degree Level High school diploma or equivalent; some employers require a bachelor's degree
Degree Field None specified; retail management can be beneficial
Experience 2+ years of experience in sales or related positions
Key Skills Management, interpersonal, customer service, and problem-solving skills; computer skills involving time accounting, database, human resources, and scheduling software; technical skills with magnetic card readers and telecheck processing terminals
Salary $46,906 (2020 median for all retail managers)

Sources:, Employer Job Postings (November 2012),, O*NET OnLine

A high school diploma is standard for retail managers, but some employers require a bachelor's degree in a field like retail management. Employers typically prefer at least two years of experience in sales or related positions. Key skills include management, interpersonal, customer service, problem-solving skills, computer skills, and technical skills. As of 2020, the median annual salary for retail managers was $46,906.

Steps to Becoming a Retail Manager

Step 1: Meet the Education Requirements

A high school diploma or its equivalent is typically required for retail managers. High school courses in business can be valuable to aspiring retail managers. Although a college degree isn't generally required for an individual to be hired as a retail manager, some companies prefer candidates to earn a bachelor's degree. Students enrolled in postsecondary retail management programs may take courses such as accounting, business writing, selling, marketing, economics, and merchandising.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

A sampling of retail manager position job postings emphasized the importance of previous industry-related work experience. Employers generally require several years of retail experience before securing a management role. Any prior supervisory experience is helpful to management candidates.

Success Tip:

  • Be knowledgeable of the company products and services. Some employers, depending on the type of product being sold, may prefer specialty knowledge. For instance, a store that sells paint likely will prefer candidates who are familiar with the application and uses of paint.

Step 3: Enroll in a Management Trainee Program

Individuals seeking career advancement and managerial opportunities can enroll in management trainee programs offered by many retail companies. Requirements vary by company and industry, but interested employees typically must meet educational and experience requirements. These programs may include self-study modules, hands-on training, and classroom instruction. Trainees learn daily store operation details by working with actual store managers.

Hopeful retail managers should hold a high school diploma or its equivalent, gain experience in the retail industry, and consider earning a bachelor's degree and/or enrolling in a management trainee program before securing a managerial position.

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