What are the common Retail career paths?

What are the common Retail career paths?


A career in retail is not just for the shopaholics among us - although the prospect of receiving staff discounts off our favourite brands is enough to woo many candidates.

The industry takes people from a wide range of backgrounds and all stages of education. So whether you have just taken your GCSEs or have recently graduated with a degree, there are openings and career paths to suit you.

Experience is often key. If you want to work in fashion, the best way is to learn about the industry from the ground up. If you want to move from entertainment retail to fashion retail later on in your career it can be done, but you will need to prove you have the transferrable skills to deal with the switch.

For Graduates
Large retailers offer graduate trainee schemes designed to provide a broad experience and understanding of the entire retail sector; from head office roles to store management or distribution.

Schemes will typically last between one and three years and upon completion, you can choose to specialise in your preferred role.

For head office roles, the next move is into a senior position, such as Senior Buyer. From here your career will typically take the route into management before specialising in a certain area and taking over as departmental head.

Alternatively, if you are involved in store management, your career path will take a slightly different route. From managing a single store your next move will invariably be as an Area Manager with responsibility for a number of different stores before eventually progressing to National Manager and Director level.

For Non-Graduates
Senior roles within the retail industry are not solely reserved for graduates. A number of the UK’s leading retail giants are starting to recruit non-graduates into their management training schemes, although the route to the top may take slightly longer.

A Trainee Store Manager, for example, could progress to Duty or Line Manager before taking on the responsibility of managing their own outlet.

Entry level positions which are not necessarily restricted to graduates include sales assistants and customer services.

Wondering what to do now? Check out our expert career advice, find out more about the Retail industry or search for the latest Retail jobs.