20 of the Best Jobs to Work in Retail

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The retail sector employs almost 16 million workers in positions ranging from cashier and customer service representative to merchandiser and manager. The pay isn’t always great, and you’ll need a flexible schedule for many jobs in retail. However, not all roles require formal education, and there are opportunities to grow with a company and move up the career ladder.

Automation, like at those checkout kiosks being placed in many retail stores, has constrained or reversed growth in many unskilled retail jobs. Online merchandising has also impacted brick-and-mortar operations while opening up opportunities through online outlets.

Key Takeaways

  • Retail jobs may offer on-the-job training that allows motivated workers to build a career without a formal education.
  • Many retail roles require working weekends or evenings; however, this schedule may be a good fit for workers with responsibilities during the day. 
  • National chains may offer higher pay, especially for management jobs and roles that require IT skills or security expertise. 

Types of Retail Job Opportunities

When reviewing job options, it's important to consider positions that are a strong fit for your qualifications, interests, and where you're at in your career. The best job for one person may not be the right fit for someone else.

Where to focus depends on your skills and interests and what you want to get out of your work. For example, cashier positions are often low-paying but may allow you to work a flexible schedule around school or other responsibilities. Retail sales associates can earn more, especially when there is an opportunity to get paid a commission, but you’ll need strong interpersonal skills and the ability to close a sale.

Because of the large number of employees in the field and the scope the retail industry covers, there are plenty of opportunities for career advancement. Once you’ve moved up from an entry-level job, there are opportunities for decent-paying department store and district management positions, especially with the larger national chains. You’ll also likely find IT, security, and administrative positions at the major retailers.


Are you a college graduate interested in making a career in retail? Many leading retailers have management training programs, and they actively recruit students and recent graduates. You’ll find the details in the career section of the company’s website.

20 Top Jobs in Retail

Here’s an overview of some of the top retail jobs, including each role’s responsibilities, job duties, and necessary skills.

1. Beauty Consultant

Beauty consultants interact with customers at cosmetic counters within retail establishments or beauty salons. Some may work independently. They interview customers to uncover their concerns regarding physical appearance and recommend products that will address any issues. 

2. Butcher

Butchers in retail food markets cut and trim meat and fish, and display and price products for sale. They maintain inventory and process orders. Butchers answer questions from shoppers and recommend merchandise.

3. Buyer

Buyers and purchasing agents buy the products sold in retail stores. They are responsible for evaluating vendors, negotiating prices, ordering inventory, and arranging delivery schedules. One of the perks of being a buyer is getting to attend trade shows to check out new products. At large retailers, buyers work in corporate headquarters. Smaller organizations may have an in-house buyer. 

4. Cashier

Cashier isn’t the best-paying retail job, but it’s one where there are no formal educational requirements for new hires. You can apply online at most major retailers, and on-the-job training is provided. Opportunities are available at department stores, grocery stores, gas stations, and other retail establishments.


Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects declines in the number of cashier jobs, positions are still plentiful. More than 3.37 million people were employed as cashiers in 2020. Many jobs are part-time, though some employers still offer benefits.

5. Customer Service Representative

There are many different customer service roles in retail. Your job might involve working at the customer service desk, handling returns and payments, providing product information and pricing to customers, or responding to inquiries about availability and delivery. 

6. District Manager

District managers supervise operations at a group of stores, usually within a geographic territory. Ultimately, their job is to make sure that each store meets its sales targets. They mentor, train, and evaluate store managers and troubleshoot problems within their region. 

7. First-Line Supervisor

First-line supervisors and department managers are responsible for one section of a retail store. For example, grocery stores have managers for produce, frozen food, meat and seafood, and dairy. This job could be a promotion from a stock or associate position, or the employer could recruit candidates with experience in that department. 

8. Human Resources Specialist/Training Manager

Human resources specialists are responsible for recruiting, hiring, training, benefits administration, and employee relations. Depending on the retailer, this role could be either an in-store job or a corporate position. 

9. Information Technology (IT) Coordinator

Retail IT coordinators provide operations and user support for retailers. Responsibilities may include hardware, software, mobile, messaging, and server support. IT coordinators troubleshoot and resolve issues and upgrade and maintain store systems. 

10. Loan Officer/Branch Manager

Loan officers at retail banking establishments promote mortgage, auto, and personal loans to customers. They evaluate loan applications, manage staff, and implement bank policies. 


Loan officer jobs pay higher-than-average wages for retail positions: per the BLS, the median annual pay for this job is $63,380. However, automation is expected to limit job growth in this category.

11. Logistics Coordinator

Retail logistics coordinators orchestrate the movement of the right products to the right stores. They keep track of inventory, order stock, allocate merchandise to stores, manage the organization of stock rooms, and ensure timely shipping and delivery to maintain stocked shelves and racks. 

12. Loss Prevention Specialist

Loss prevention specialists are hired to prevent shoplifting. Employees follow the organization’s loss-control policies and cash-handling procedures. Responsibilities may include greeting customers, checking bags and tags, and inspecting store alarms and locks. 

13. Manager Trainee/Leadership Development Associate

Many retailers have management training programs. Some are designed for college graduates to rotate through different areas of the retail business as an introduction to starting a career with the company. Others are focused on training employees who are being promoted from within. 

14. Online Merchandiser

Online merchandisers are responsible for digital merchandising of the products on the company website. They measure customer interest, determine sales strategy, decide on product promotion, and analyze data. Freelancers independently sell or resell products through online sites like eBay. 

15. Pharmacist

The retail preparation and distribution of medicines is a thriving component of the retail landscape, particularly given the aging population. Pharmacists often help to manage drugstores in addition to their role in preparing medications and educating customers. 


Pharmacists represent the highest earning retail job on this list. Per the BLS, pharmacists earn a median annual salary of $128,570.

16. Pharmacy Technician

Pharmacy technicians work in drug stores and pharmacies within large retail stores. They receive and process prescriptions. The job involves data entry, printing labels, stocking shelves, and preparing and packaging medications. Strong customer service skills are important for this role. 

17. Retail Merchandiser

Retail sales merchandisers typically work for product manufacturers as a liaison between the company and retail outlets that sell its products. Merchandisers are responsible for maximizing sales by monitoring stock levels, ensuring proper displays and signage, training store employees, and overseeing promotional campaigns. 

18. Sales Associate

Like many retail positions, sales associate jobs are expected to decline slightly over the coming years. But there are still plenty of jobs for talented sellers. Over 4 million workers held sales associate jobs in 2020, according to the BLS, which projects over 550,000 sales associate job openings each year. Many of those positions will be due to workers leaving the field to retire or change occupations. 

Sales associate isn’t a high-paying job when you look at the average hourly rate, but there may be opportunities to earn commissions. Commissions can add up when you’re selling high-ticket items like furniture, appliances, or automobiles.

19. Store Manager

The store manager is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the store, including inventory, customer service, productivity, promotions, and profitability. The role may include hiring, scheduling, training, and managing employees. 

20. Team Leader/Assistant Manager

A retail assistant manager helps the store manager with day-to-day operations. Depending on the size of the store, job responsibilities may include oversight of a specific area of the store or assisting with general management.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Retail Trade." https://www.bls.gov/iag/tgs/iag44-45.htm#workforce

  2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Cashiers: Job Outlook." 

  3. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Loan Officers." 

  4. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Pharmacists." 

  5. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Retail Sales Workers: Job Outlook." 

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