How to Become a Retail Management: Career Advice & Information

Overview & Salaries


Retail managers are in charge of the day-to-day running of retail stores. Ensuring customers are satisfied requires a lot of work: hiring and training employees, keeping the store well-supplied, keeping records of sales, maintaining security, banking cash from the register, and dealing with customer complaints and returns. Although they have to comply with store policies, retail managers can do a lot to make a store successful. Whether by hiring great salespeople or creating displays that draw customers in, a good retail manager can make a big impact in the job.


Annual salaries for retail managers will vary depending on your experience, education level, and expertise. In 2013, the average annual salary for retail managers working in the U.S. was $41,450 per year.

For more information on what parts of the country have the most opportunity for retail managers, click through to our Best Places to Work tab for information on the number of people employed and the average salary in each state.

Discover the Best Cities and States to Work in Retail Management

California leads the nation in employment for retail managers, where 124,200 professionals are working statewide, and earning an average yearly salary of $44,330. Texas is second, with 102,870 retail managers employed in various industries, who earn an average salary of $42,840.

The metro areas employing the most retail managers are:

  • New York-White Plains (32,800)
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach (31,900)
  • Chicago-Joliet (28,600)

The metro areas employing the highest concentration of retail managers are:

  • Dothan, AL (20.5 jobs per thousand)
  • Punta Gorda, FL (19.49 jobs per thousand)

The metro areas employing the best-paid retail managers are:

  • Nassau-Suffolk, NY (average annual salary $52,750)
  • Philadelphia, PA (average annual salary $52,520)

Employment and Salary Information for Retail Managers

Use our interactive map below to find out which areas of the United States are currently experiencing the greatest amount of growth and job availability for graduates looking for a career as a retail manager. The associated information has been gathered from Bureau of Labor statistics, representing data collected in 2012.

Why Become A Retail Manager?

Retail managers set the tone for a store and help to make it a pleasant place to shop—or not. Here are some of the reasons a career in retail management may be worth considering:

  • Big industry. There are over 1.2 million retail managers in the United States, and while the job is not growing as fast as other occupations, that’s partly because numbers are so huge to begin with.
  • Take control. Don’t like the display out the front of the store? Change it. As long as you stay within the store’s general policies, you’ve got a lot of freedom.
  • Variety of industries. In thinking about retail, you might have thought food, or clothing. But what about cars? Insurance? Building materials? These industries employ a lot of retail managers—and many of them pay well.
  • Mentor people. You lead the retail staff around you, and in many cases you’ll be shaping one of their early experiences of the workplace. You’ll also have a lot of customer interaction, which is great if you love sales.
  • Staff discounts. Not always, of course, but it’s a nice perk when you get them.

Retail Management: What You Need To Know

A retail manager takes on a lot of responsibility for the success of a store. A working knowledge of these skill sets will help to set you apart from other candidates.

  • Customer Service
  • Sales Skills
  • Product Knowledge
  • Management
  • Training and Mentoring
  • Communications

Feel like you’ve got a lot to learn? Get more information about retail management careers, degrees, and applicable courses from one of the schools below.

Degree Options for Retail Management Careers

On-the-job training

One of the key factors employers look for is experience. Some retail sales managers are promoted from within after strong performance as employees for a retail store. Promotion is likely to take several years, however. Other retail sales managers may have experience in sales or in managing employees from previous roles. Having additional qualifications in management or administration is also valuable.

Associate’s / Bachelor’s degree

Colleges, technical colleges and other schools offer associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in retail management. These take some time to complete—usually two years in the case of an associate’s degree, four in the case of a bachelor’s—but you won’t necessarily have to work your way through the ranks. Retail experience is still important, however, even if you have a degree.