Jobs in retail

Jemma Smith, Editor
January, 2019

From head office to the shop floor, all the way to the warehouse, retail careers span a range of functions. Find out more about individual roles and discover which retail job is right for you

Retail buyer

Responsible for planning and selecting a range of products to sell in retail outlets and for reviewing existing items to ensure products remain competitive, you'll need strong analytical, numerical and team working skills, as well as creative flair.

A degree in retail or business will increase your chances of success. Graduate programmes are open to those who have secured a 2:2 or above.

A junior buyer can expect to earn £18,000 to £25,000. With experience and promotion this could rise to between £25,000 and £45,000.

For further information on qualifications and skills see retail buyer, also discover how to get into buying and merchandising.

Purchasing manager

You are responsible for buying the best quality equipment, goods and services, at the most competitive prices, to enable a company to operate.

Salaries may start at £20,000. With relevant experience salaries of £25,000 can be achieved. With promotion you can earn £30,000 to £45,000. Senior managers and purchasing directors earn salaries of £50,000 to £100,000.

While open to all graduates, large retail stores and wholesale distribution centres prefer applicants who have completed a degree with a business emphasis.

To find out more about employers and career prospects see purchasing manager.

Retail manager

Responsible for the day-to-day running of stores or departments you'll maximise profits and minimise costs. You'll ensure that staff are working towards targets and that customer care standards are met.

This area of work is open to all graduates although a HND or degree in accounting and finance, business, fashion management, marketing or retail management may prove useful.

You'll need skills in prioritising and planning workloads and motivating and leading a team.

To learn more about responsibilities and salaries see retail manager.

Retail merchandiser

Working closely with buyers, retail merchandisers predict up-and-coming sales trends to ensure maximum profitability. You'll ensure that products appear in the right store, or on a website, at the appropriate time and in the correct quantities.

This retail job is open to all graduates, although a degree in accountancy or finance, business, economics, mathematics or retail management will help.

Salaries for assistant merchandisers range from £16,000 to £18,000, rising to £22,000 with experience.

To find out more about work experience and career prospects see retail merchandiser.


You'll need a love of books, good people skills and a keen business mind to succeed in this customer-facing role. Involved in the retail of books and associated products you’ll advise on the variety of titles available, order and display stock and liaise with publishers and their representatives.

While open to all graduates, a degree or HND in literature or business and management may increase your chances of entry.

Starting salaries range from £14,000 to £17,000. At senior level you could earn £20,000 to £40,000.

Discover more about the role of a bookseller.

Dispensing optician

You'll fit and sell glasses and other optical aids, such as contact lenses, to adults and children, working from the prescriptions of optometrists and ophthalmologists. You'll advise customers on lenses and frames including how to wear and care for them.

You’ll need to pass a three-year course in ophthalmic dispensing at a training institution approved by the General Optical Council (GOC).

Pre-registration students earn around £14,000 to £18,000 a year. Once qualified salaries range from £18,000 to £30,000, while practice managers earn in the region of £30,000 to £45,000.

Take a closer look at the qualifications you'll need to become a dispensing optician.

Customer service manager

This retail job is about putting the needs of the customer first. Your aim is to develop excellent customer service throughout the organisation by helping to develop policies, measuring satisfaction, managing a team of staff and handling customer enquiries face-to-face.

Salaries for trainee customer service managers fall between £18,000 and £25,000. With experience you can earn £30,000 to £45,000.

While open to all graduates some employers prefer graduates from disciplines that are relevant to their particular sector, such as retail or hospitality.

Learn more about what to expect as customer service manager.

Logistics and distribution manager

Not all retail careers are confined to the shop floor. As a logistics and distribution manager you can work in offices, warehouses or stockrooms as you organise the storage, distribution and delivery of goods.

Understanding the whole supply chain is important so that you can coordinate it effectively. You'll also need excellent time management, commercial awareness and numerical skills.

Salaries are between £15,000 and £19,000. With increased responsibility salaries can range from £25,000 to £35,000.

There is an increasing demand for logistics and supply chain managers thanks to growth of internet retailing. Discover how to get a job as an online retailer.

Read more about the role of a logistics and distribution manager.

Visual merchandiser

Sometimes known as window dressers, visual merchandisers develop, deliver and communicate visual concepts and strategies to promote retail brands, products and services in-store, in catalogues or online.

You’ll create eye-catching displays, using your creative flair and imagination and your eye for design, colour and style.

Particularly useful subjects include fashion design, surface pattern design and textiles.

Assistant visual merchandiser salaries start at £12,000 to £18,000. Experienced or management roles attract salaries of £20,000 to £27,000.

For a more in depth idea of what to expect see visual merchandiser.

Warehouse manager

You will also need excellent people management skills, technical and IT skills and the ability to work under pressure and to tight deadlines.

Working hours typically include early starts, late finishes, weekends and shift work as you oversee the efficient receipt, storage and dispatch of goods.

Subjects such as business and information systems, management and economics, retail management, supply chain management or transport, distribution and logistics will be advantageous.

Salaries for graduate-training schemes in warehouse management range from £18,000 to £25,000. Experienced warehouse managers can earn £22,000 to £35,000.

Gain an insight into the role of a warehouse manager.

Antiques dealer

Buying and selling old objects and collectors' items such as jewellery, art, furniture, glass or china you'll research the identity and value of objects, buy items from auctions, markets and private owners and sell these to the public from shops or stalls at antiques centres.

Short courses, a diploma or degree in subjects such as art history may prove useful. You can also enter the profession through work experience in an antiques shop or auction house. The majority of antiques dealers are self-employed so salaries vary. You'll need good business sense, an eye for spotting treasure and excellent negotiation skills.

Call centre manager

You'll ensure that calls and emails are answered in a timely and appropriate manner and take responsibility for the daily management of the centre through the effective use of resources.

First posts tend to be at senior adviser or team-leader level, with a salary ranging between £18,000 and £26,000. At manager level, salaries vary between £20,000 and £60,000 with opportunities to earn commission.

Entry is open to all graduates, although some call centres require their staff to have specialist knowledge or fluency in a foreign language.

Gain an insight into the role of a call centre manager.

Beauty consultant

Working on beauty counters you'll drive sales and advise customers on which products to buy. Duties include demonstrating products and giving makeovers. Regular training may be required to keep up to date with new products.

Qualifications in retail, customer service or beauty therapy may help but are not essential. Salaries begin at £12,000 to £13,000, rising to £19,000 once you've gained experience. For roles such as counter or regional manager you could earn £30,000.

Car salesperson

Excellent communication skills and an aptitude for sales and negotiation are required as you'll work for a dealership selling new or used cars to customers.

You'll arrange test drives, work out finance, complete paperwork and meet sales targets. Working hours are typically 40 to 45 hours per week and you could potentially earn up to £40,000, with commission, once experienced.

You don't need a degree but employers expect sales experience, knowledge of cars and a driving licence. You can also get into this job via an apprenticeship.

Commercial art gallery manager

You'll manage the sales and marketing areas of running a commercial art gallery and communicate directly with artists and dealers. You'll select art and artists to enhance the gallery's reputation and bring in money from the sales of artwork.

You may need to start out as a gallery assistant (£16,000 to £19,000) in order to gain experience. Gallery managers can earn £25,000 to £40,000, whereas gallery directors can earn in excess of £60,000.

You'll need artistic awareness, business acumen and interpersonal skills to succeed.

Find out more about working as a commercial art gallery manager.

Personal shopper

The job involves advising customers on the products that meet their needs, with an end goal of making a sale.

You'll need strong product knowledge and the ability to reassure customers of your expertise. There are no set requirements for entry, although some employers may look for experience in dealing with customers. Qualifications in fashion or design may prove useful.

At the beginning of your career salaries can range from £14,000 to £18,000. With experience you could earn up to £25,000.

Find out more

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