Retail Managers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

You will need at least a high school education in order to become a retail manager. Helpful courses include business, mathematics, marketing, and economics. English and speech classes are also important. These courses will teach you to communicate effectively with all types of people, including employees and customers.

Postsecondary Training

Most retail stores prefer applicants with a college degree, and many hire only college graduates. Liberal arts, social sciences, and business are the most common degrees held by retail managers.

To prepare for a career as a retail store manager, take courses in accounting, business, marketing, English, advertising, and computer science. If you are unable to attend college as a full-time student, consider getting a job in a store to gain experience and attend college part time. All managers, regardless of their education, must have good marketing, analytical, communication, and people skills.

Many large retail stores and national chains have established formal training programs, including classroom instruction, for their new employees. The training period may last a week or as long as one year. Training for a department store manager, for example, may include working as a salesperson in several departments in order to learn about the store's operations. Training classes usually include interviewing, customer service skills, inventory management, employee relations, and scheduling. Retail franchise training programs are comprehensive: Trainees usually learn everything about the company's operations, from budgeting, marketing, management, finance, and purchasing, to product preparation, human resource management, and compensation.

Other Education or Training

The National Retail Federation offers classes and other continuing education opportunities. Topics include customer service, management issues, sales training, buying, store operations, merchandising, and marketing. The Retail Design Institute offers workshops and seminars that educate participants about industry trends and developments in retail store design. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

The National Retail Federation Foundation offers the following voluntary designations to retail workers who successfully pass an assessment and meet other requirements: retail industry fundamentals, customer service & sales, and the business of retail: operations & profit. Contact the foundation for more information.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Previous experience in the retail industry as an assistant manager or clerk is highly recommended.

To be a successful retail manager, you should have good communication skills, enjoy working with and supervising people, and be willing to put in very long hours. Diplomacy is often necessary when creating schedules for workers and in disciplinary matters. There is a great deal of responsibility in retail management and such positions can be stressful. A calm disposition and ability to handle stress will serve you well.