Career Detail


Retail Salesperson
“Need Help Finding Anything?”
Assist customers in finding what they are looking for and try to interest them in buying the merchandise.
Average Pay: $7 - $13/hr    Qualifications: Usually a High School Diploma
The Job
Consumers spend millions of dollars every day on merchandise and often rely on a store's sales force for help. Whether selling shoes, computer equipment, automobiles, or hundreds of other products sold at retail outlets and department stores, retail sales persons are the ones on the floor focusing on making the sale happen. Most are able to describe a product's features, demonstrate its use, or show various models and colors. In addition to selling, most retail salespersons-especially those who work in department and apparel stores-make out sales checks; receive cash, checks, debit, and charge payments; bag or package purchases; and give change and receipts. For some sales jobs, particularly those involving expensive and complex items, retail salespersons need special knowledge or skills. The highest earnings potential usually lies in selling "big-ticket" items-such as cars, jewelry, furniture, and electronic equipment-although doing so often requires extensive knowledge of the product and an extraordinary talent for persuasion.
Work Environment
Most salespersons in retail trade work in clean, comfortable, well-lit stores. also may work outdoors if they sell items such as cars, plants, or lumber yard materials.
College Majors
marketing, communications, business administration
Minimum Qualifications
There usually are no formal education requirements for this type of work, although a high school diploma or the equivalent is often preferred. A college degree may be required for management trainee positions, especially in larger retail establishments.
Personality traits helpful for this career
communication skills, persuasive, neat appearence
Quick Facts
  • This occupation offers many opportunities for part-time work and is especially appealing to students, retirees, and others seeking to supplement their income.
  • Commissions can be extremely more when selling "big ticket" items.
Compensation and Outlook
Median hourly wages of wage-and-salary retail salespersons, including commissions, were $9.86 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $8.26 and $13.35 an hour. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $7.37, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $19.14 an hour.
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