17 July, 2020
By Mike Simpson
When it comes to common experiences, working in retail is one that many people share. About 32 percent of all working Americans headed to the retail sector for their first job. During the course of a lifetime, six in 10 Americans spend at least some time in a retail position.
While entry-level retail jobs aren’t associated with great salaries, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some high paying retail jobs out there. It’s possible to work your way up, allowing you to snag some sweet compensation rates along the way.
If the idea of having one of the highest-paying retail jobs sounds awesome to you, here’s some information that can help you get there.
What Are Retail Jobs?
Alright, before we dig into what the best paying retail jobs are, let’s spend a moment taking a good, hard look at what retail even is. After all, retail is an incredibly broad category, which makes it a little hard to nail down.
For example, approximately 29 million people are directly employed by the retail industry. Of those, 4.8 million are working in retail sales positions, like clerks, cashiers, and salespeople. Everyone else in the industry holds a different kind of job.
According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of retail is “to sell in small quantities to the ultimate consumer.” In plainer English, any business that sells finished products or services to the person who uses it is technically part of the industry.
When it comes down to it, any professional who helps consumers get those products or services is in a retail job. This includes anyone from grocery store cashiers to commissioned fine art sellers to infomercial phone line operators and beyond. Additionally, it can cover a range of support staff, such as stockers and warehouse workers, as well as multiple tiers of management.
Top 15 Highest Paying Retail Jobs
The median hourly wage for retail sales work is $12.23. But the best retail jobs can offer salaries far beyond that.
Sometimes, a retailer simply goes above and beyond for their employees, offering industry-leading compensation. At times, it’s the fact that the position requires some retail know-how and experience, essentially representing an upper-level role in the sector.
If you want to land one of the highest paying retail jobs, here are some options to keep on your radar:
1. Costco Associate
If you are looking for a traditional retail job, consider Costco. The company set its minimum wage at $15 per hour, allowing it to beat the average for retail positions. Plus, Costco has a reputation for being an exceptional employer.
They offer plenty of room to grow and have an amazing company culture, making them a solid long-term choice. With a little practice, you could nail your Costco interview questions, allowing you to land one of the best retail jobs around.
2. Beauty Consultant
Beauty consultants don’t just sell products to customers. Instead, they go beyond the basics, helping customers choose the right options and, at times, even handling some mini makeovers along the way.
Along with a high amount of product knowledge, you also need the ability to demonstrate how various items are used. In exchange, an above-average retail pay rate of $13.27 an hour is certainly possible.
3. Pharmacy Technician
Part retail job, part medical job, pharmacy technicians help patients get their prescriptions. Along with dispensing medication under the guidance of the pharmacist, they typically have cashiering and customer service responsibilities.
As a buyer, your job is to communicate with manufacturers and suppliers, allowing you to acquire products that your company will use to stock its shelves. Along with evaluating pricing and delivery schedules, you may be responsible for negotiating contracts. Following up if a manufacturer or supplier fails to meet expectations may also come with the role.
The median annual salary for buyers is $64,380. However, there is certainly room to grow from there.
5. Loss Prevention Manager
Essentially all retailers lose some of their profits to shrinkage. Shoplifting, vandalism, and accidental inventory damage are all part of that equation, and are things that loss prevention managers aim to curb.
As a loss prevention manager, you oversee a store’s shoplifting and vandalism reduction efforts. Additionally, you may review events that led to product damage, including when the harm isn’t intentional.
Often, core duties include training security personnel, implementing technological solutions for store- and inventory-monitoring, and investigating incidents after they occur. In exchange, you could earn the average salary of $38,401 a year.
6. Cosmetics Manager
As a cosmetics manager, your duties mainly focus on overseeing a beauty department. Along with monitoring inventory and assisting customers, you typically lead a team of beauty consultants.
Often, cosmetics managers train new and existing beauty consultants in techniques approved by each brand. Additionally, they may assist with more complex customer questions, handle consultant hiring, and ensure the department runs smoothly.
On average, cosmetics managers earn $17.83 per hour. However, the top 10 percent can bring in $25.36 per hour, potentially equating to about $52,750 a year if you work full-time hours.
7. Purchasing Manager
Stores don’t end up with products at random. Instead, they are specifically selected. Purchasing managers oversee this process. Along with identifying products, they negotiate prices with brands, create procurement policies and procedures, coordinate deliveries with suppliers, and supervise a team of purchasing agents or buyers.
Generally, purchasing manager is one of the highest-paying retail jobs around. The median annual salary comes in at $121,110.
8. Customer Service Supervisor
As a customer service supervisor, you are in a front-line management position. Along with guiding a team of customer service representatives, duties typically include addressing customer issues that have been elevated beyond the first support tier.
In many cases, this position is a gateway to management, making it one of the best retail jobs for moving up. Plus, it comes with a salary of about $64,000 a year, though some top earners bring in more than $83,000.
9. Regional Loss Prevention Manager
An upper-level loss prevention positions, regional loss prevention managers focus on enhancing profitability and reducing shrinkage across multiple stores. Along with implementing policies, ensuring the right technologies are in place, and developing new standards, they also provide training to store employees and managers.
On average, regional loss prevention managers earn $86,140 a year, which could make it a solid choice for anyone focusing on high-paying retail jobs. Plus, the top 10 percent earn more than $113,000 annually, showing just how lucrative a career in loss prevention can be in the end.
10. Customer Service Manager
For customer service managers, finding ways to keep consumers happy is the main priority. Along with hand-selecting customer service teams, they often train employees to offer the best in customer service, ensuring they adhere to the company’s standards and strive to exceed expectations at every step.
Many consider working as a customer service manager to be one of the best retail jobs around. The duties are mainly upper-level supervisory. However, you still get to impact customer satisfaction, which can be rewarding. Plus, a yearly salary of about $94,000 isn’t out of the question, and the top 10 percent often earn more than $128,000 annually.
11. Retail Account Manager
The retail account manager position is a bit different. Instead of working at the store level, these professionals are employed by product brands. They are responsible for maintaining relationships and facilitating orders with client stores, ensuring their employer’s product is available to consumers.
Often, retail account managers also spend some time selling new products or parts of a product line that the store isn’t carrying. At times, this can include giving demonstrations, ensuring the client understands what the product has to offer.
On average, retail account managers earn around $62,000 a year. However, some make much more, including close to the six-figure mark.
12. Store Manager
As a store manager, your job is to oversee the operations of a single location. Usually, you’ll have duties in several areas, including hiring, training, and supervising employees, handling budgets, maintaining records, and managing all core activities.
Generally speaking, retail store managers earn an average of $61,569 a year. However, the top 10 percent bring in more than $82,000 annually.
13. General Manager
The job of the general manager isn’t universal. In fact, the title is incredibly ambiguous, meaning different things to different brands.
How a brand uses this position largely depends on the size of the individual stores. For large stores, like Walmart’s or Costco’s, a general manager usually oversees a single store. They coordinate operations across every department, assist with hiring and training, manage budgets, and more.
For smaller stores, a general manager might oversee several locations in a specific area, like a city or county. This can also be the case with small businesses that only have a handful of locations.
At times, a general manager might be responsible for keeping an eye on several regions, including all of the stores within each one. Since the level of responsibility can vary, general manager salaries can run the gamut. However, the average comes in at $89,240 annually, easily making the position one of the best paying retail jobs available.
14. Regional Manager
One of the upper management roles, regional managers oversee operations at all of a brand’s stores within a specific physical area. Along with assisting with new location openings, they inspect existing stores, introduce new safety measures, implement policies, establish procedures, and ensure customer satisfaction. Often, regional managers help with store manager training, while also managing budgets and creating performance reports for senior management.
Regional manager salaries can vary. For example, the number of stores in an area may influence compensation, as well as the amount of experience the person brings to the table. However, the average comes in around $147,000, with salaries about $223,000 not being out of the question for the top 10 percent of earners.
15. Retail Franchise Owner
When it comes to the highest-paying retail jobs, being a franchise owner is one of the most lucrative options. In that role, you invest money to open a specific kind of chain retail location, allowing you to operate under the name of a well-known brand while maintaining a significant amount of operational control.
In some cases, franchise owners have little to nothing to do with day-to-day operations. Once they hire managers to run the location, they may be fairly hands-off. However, some franchise owners choose to remain highly involved, even acting as managers or entirely running the business.
How much you can earn varies dramatically depending on the niche, brand, your location, market saturation in the operating area, and more. That makes it hard to get a solid number of how much you could earn in the role.
However, a salary of around $64,000 a year isn’t out of the question. Plus, if you own more than one location, the amount you earn can go up dramatically.
Putting It All Together
All of the positions above qualify as some of the highest-paying retail jobs around. In some cases, you can start in the roles. In others, you can work your way up with time, potentially without a college education.
Ultimately, the retail sector can have a lot to offer. If you’re interested in the industry, use this information as a guide. That way, you can land a lucrative position, ensuring you can make ends meet now and down the line.
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