April 11, 2008
What This Job Pays: retail salesperson
Pay: The median pay for a retail salesperson in the Seattle area is $23,929, with most salespeople making from $20,272 to $28,575, according to salary.com.
Demand: Employment is expected to grow by 12 percent over the 2006-16 decade, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. In fact, due to the size of this occupation, retail salespeople will have one of the largest numbers of new jobs arise, about 557,000 over the projections decade.
This growth reflects rising retail sales stemming from a growing population. Many retail establishments will continue to expand in size and number, leading to new retail-sales positions.
Since retail salespeople must be available to assist customers in person, this is not an occupation that will suffer negative effects from advancements in technology. To the contrary, software that integrates sales transactions, inventory management and purchasing has greatly changed retailing, but salespeople continue to be essential in dealing with customers.
There will also be an increased demand for retail salespeople in warehouse clubs and supercenters, which sell a wide assortment of goods at low prices, since they continue to grow as many consumers prefer these stores.
Need to know: There usually are no formal education requirements for this type of work, although a high-school diploma or the equivalent is often preferred. A college degree may be required for management-trainee positions, especially in larger retail establishments.
Depending on the type of product they are selling, employees may be given additional specialized training by sales representatives.
For example, those working in cosmetics receive instruction on the types of products the store offers and for whom the cosmetics would be most beneficial.
Likewise, salespeople employed by car dealerships may be instructed on the technical details of standard and optional equipment available on new vehicle models. Since providing the best possible service to customers is a high priority for many employers, employees often are given periodic training to update and refine their skills.
Employers look for people who enjoy working with others and who have the tact and patience to deal with difficult customers. Among other desirable characteristics are an interest in sales work, a neat appearance and the ability to communicate clearly and effectively.
The ability to speak more than one language may be helpful for employment in communities where people from various cultures live and shop.
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