Retail businesses sell everything from food to clothing and medicine. There are numerous jobs within the retail industry, from stocking and floor sales to district, regional, and company-wide management. Retail management degrees can be good preparation to move up in responsibility within a retail company.
An entry-level job in retail generally doesn't require formal education, and many turn to retail sales for their first jobs while still in high school. However, those who move on to retail management often have a college degree and several years of work experience. According to Salary.com, 46 percent of retail managers hold a bachelor's degree. Another 31 percent of department retail managers have a high school diploma, 18 percent hold an associate degree or certificate, and only four percent hold a master's degree.
Those who are looking to advance in the industry might find that a online business degree helps them meet that goal. Salary.com reports that 58 percent of regional retail sales managers hold a bachelor's degree, 9 percent hold an associate degree or certificate and 12 percent hold a master's degree. Experience matters as well; Salary.com reported that 46 percent of regional retail sales managers had fifteen years of experience or more.
Though doctorates in retail management are rare, they are awarded by various universities and online schools. Online retail management degrees are often a good choice for those who are already working in the industry and want to expand their advancement potential.
Retail management degree courses
Learning to manage a retail business includes a wide variety of courses. According to The College Board, retail management degrees include coursework in merchandise management, customer service, marketing, personnel management, organizational behavior, finance, accounting and business law.
Those best suited for careers in retail management should have excellent people skills, be good leaders and have the ability to handle several situations at once. As the retail business goes high-tech, those who are proficient with computers might find an edge in the hiring process.
Careers in retail management
Retail stores might focus on a particular type of item, such as electronics or food, or they might be a large department store that focuses on a wide variety of products. Many retail stores have several departments, and each department has a manager. Some stores are so small that only one manager and a handful of employees are required to keep the business running. Large chains might require district and regional managers, in addition to store managers.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those in the retail industry can expect to work during peak sales times, including weekends and holidays. Though many sales associates work part time, managers can expect to work the standard 40-hour workweek and longer hours during peak sales times.
Though retail sales offer a low rate of pay for those who are starting out, the higher a person rises in the management ranks, the higher his or her income can be. The BLS reports that supervisors of retail sales workers earned a mean annual wage of $39,890 in 2010. However, experience and education matter: the top 10 percent earned more than $60,000 annually. Wholesale and retail buyers, who analyze sales trends and negotiate prices for merchandise to sell in their stores had a mean annual wage of $56,300 in 2010, and purchasing managers, who supervise buyers and direct buying strategies for retail outlets can make significantly more, with mean annual wages of $100,600, the BLS reports.
Retail management at a glance
- Education: 46 percent of sales managers hold a bachelor's degree. Online retail management degrees are often a good bet for those who are already working in the industry.
- Salaries: The mean annual income for a retail sales manager in 2010 was $39,890, according to the BLS. Purchasing managers made a mean annual wage of $100,600