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Requirements and Job Duties of a Retail Sales Associate

Job Descriptions December 24, 2012

A retail sales associate represents the public face of a retail store. Customers rely on retail sales associates to assist them in selecting an appropriate product. A retail sales associate is relied on by their employer in keeping the shelves stocked and maintaining the cleanliness of the sales floor. In this article, we will look at the career path of a retail sales associate and discuss what an aspiring retail sales associate must do in order to pursue their career.

Job Profile of a Retail Sales Associate

A retail sales associate recommends, describes and demonstrates products to customers; thereby helping them buy the appropriate products that they need. A retail sales associate is expected to ring up transactions on a cash register; this requires the ability to use credit card machines, calculators and barcode scanners. Apart from rendering assistance to customers, a retail sales associate’s job involves taking product inventory, stocking shelves, arranging product displays (source: Occupational Information Network (

Educational Prerequisites for a Retail Sales Associate

While there is no formal educational requirement for those who are interested in becoming a retail sales associate, some employers prefer an aspiring retail sales associate to hold a high school diploma (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) ( Sales associates are provided training by retailers; such training can be imparted either through specific seminars or on the job. Coursework typically covers topics such as sales techniques, the company’s policies and its products. Product training in a more comprehensive nature is imparted to retail sales associate that sell technical products.

Prerequisite Skills of a Retail Sales Associate

Often, a retail sales associate work in coordination with other members of a team who are retail professionals; therefore, they need to have the ability to work well with other individuals and must necessarily have exceptional communication skills. Courtesy, efficiency and a tidy appearance are among the commonly expected traits of a retail sales associate. To be more effective in the performance of their duties, a retail sales associate needs to have numeracy skills and must have adequate technology and math skills. Some employers can require sales associates to submit to background checks.

Job Outlook and Wage Information

During the decade from 2008 to 2018, retail sales associates can expect an eight percent job growth according to projections made by the BLS. An increasing population that may lead to growth in retail sales along with a large number of individuals who are leaving the profession are reasons for the optimistic job growth projections for retail sales associates. Merchandise stores are expected to be among the main employers and employment availability are normally temporary or part-time. In May 2010, individuals numbering in excess of four million worked as retail sales associates across the United States. They earned an average hourly wages of $12.02 that roughly translates to $25,000 annually (source: BLS). The average hourly wage ranged from $7.75 (for the bottom 10%) to $18.54 (as pertaining to the top 10%). The highest wages earned by retail sales associates in May 2010 were offered by auto dealers, building contractors, and trailer and auto body manufacturers.

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