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Published: Dec 30, 2022 13 min read
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When you think of high-paying careers, retail might not be the first industry to come to mind. But there are plenty of retail positions out there that offer more than the average salary.

If you like customer service, marketing or managing a large team, retail can be a great industry to climb the ladder and find success. But before you check job search sites for listings or resume keywords and skills, you should know what kind of retail job you’re interested in.

This guide will look into seven of the highest-paying retail jobs available today. Read on for a brief overview of each, including pros, cons and what it takes to succeed.

Our Top 7 Picks for the Highest Paying Retail Jobs

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Retail is a huge industry. The seven jobs listed below are just a few examples of roles that come with great benefits and opportunities for growth.

While pay rates differ in every company and location, all of these offer higher-than-average salaries for the industry. For more detailed salary information, check out our tips on finding out how much a job pays.

Project manager

A project manager is in charge of overseeing the schedule, budget, staffing and other details for a major project.

This is one job title you’ll find in multiple industries, including nonprofit and food service. In retail, a project manager mainly handles large sales events and promotions. It could be a great job for you if you’re interested in marketing and love organizing events.

A project manager’s duties can vary from day to day. This is a job that will have you on your feet a lot, traveling and coordinating with multiple parties at once. Some responsibilities might include:

  • Planning and managing a budget
  • Coordinating with sales representatives, artists or stylists
  • Meeting with company heads to plan a project
  • Hiring and training staff

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for a project manager is around $47 per hour or $98,000 per year. You’ll need plenty of experience in retail and management to get to this position, but it can be an engaging, sustainable career for the right person.

Sales associate

If you’re looking for your first retail job, a sales associate position can be a good place to start. A sales associate handles on-the-ground sales in a store or over the phone. That means interacting with customers, providing advice and helping them through the checkout process.

Some companies offer commissions to sales associates. In other words, the more you sell, the more you earn. That can help to boost your salary and keep you motivated, especially if you’re a competitive person.

A retail sales job is often the starting point for people who want to pursue a career in retail. It can also be a great temporary position for a student or a second job for someone working their way up the ladder in another industry. Unlike food service, a retail associate job offers regular hours and a consistent paycheck.

The average salary for a sales associate in the US is $14 per hour or around $29,000 per year.

Regional manager

A regional manager is in charge of one branch, or region, of a company. This is a high-level retail career that comes with a lot of responsibilities.

As a regional manager, you’d be responsible for an entire office or chain of offices. That means a lot of oversight and detailed planning. Some daily responsibilities of a regional manager might be:

  • Hiring and training employees
  • Maintaining safety standards
  • Coordinating with suppliers
  • Coordinating with company executives
  • Overseeing staff and holding meetings
  • Making sure your branch meets sales quotas

This could be a good career for an organized, level-headed person who enjoys working with people. You should have management experience and a strong knowledge of sales to get started. A bachelor’s degree might also be required.

A standard salary for a regional manager in the US is around $127,500 per year.

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Retail account manager

A retail account manager, sometimes referred to as a purchasing manager or buyer, is in charge of coordinating with clients and suppliers. This position doesn’t deal with on-the-ground sales, but instead helps to build relationships with other businesses.

You might be interested in becoming a retail account manager if you love working with a company’s products, but customer service isn’t your thing. This job will give you the opportunity to learn where products come from and to help improve the brand. It can also lead to a regional manager or executive position in the future.

On average, a purchasing manager might make $36 per hour or around $75,000 per year. That salary can be much higher depending on your company and what they sell (for example, retail account managers in the pharmaceutical industry can earn six-figure salaries).

Branch manager

On the career ladder, a branch manager is just a step below regional manager. This position is responsible for one retail location at a time.

A branch manager has a lot of daily responsibilities, including interviewing new staff members, organizing schedules and managing inventory. Many companies promote branch managers from within the store. So, if you start out as a sales associate, you might grow into a branch manager position later on.

Being in charge of the daily operations of a store can be exciting, but it means busy days and a lot of coordination. This job is best for an organized person who’s comfortable in a position of leadership. The average salary for a branch manager is around $22 per hour, or $46,000 per year.

Customer service manager

If you pride yourself on your customer service skills, you might be interested in a career as a customer service manager. This position oversees the customer service department of a retail branch.

As a customer service manager, it would be your job to hire and train customer service teams. Other responsibilities might include:

  • Keeping track of hourly wages and schedules
  • Organizing regular training
  • Implementing phone, live chat or email services
  • Coordinating with other retail departments

Some customer service managers are in charge of multiple teams at once. This is a fast-paced job that requires fine-tuned people skills. You should have a strong marketing background and be comfortable taking the lead on important projects.

Salaries for this position can vary depending on your location and company, but might be as high as $94,000 per year.

Market development manager

A market development manager is responsible for building relationships and financial strength in a certain market. This is a high-level career in retail that requires a bachelor’s degree and a diverse marketing background.

As a market development manager, you would help your company strengthen its brand. That means using market analysis to develop new techniques. You should be tech-savvy and creative, as well as profit-driven.

Market development managers often coordinate with owners or high-level executives to meet their goals. This can be a step on the way to another position, or a long-term career. An average salary can be as much as $150,000 for a great manager with experience.

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Highest Paying Retail Jobs Guide

Retail can be a step along the way to something else, or a rewarding career path. If you’re interested in a high-paying retail job, you should be prepared to put in some hard work and gain the experience you need to climb the ladder.

Here’s what you need to know before you start out in retail.

What is retail?

Retail means the sale of goods or services. The retail industry is huge and encompasses a wide variety of businesses, from huge department stores to small non-profits. If it involves sales, it’s technically retail.

So, what is a retail job? It might be sales, customer service, marketing or management. Whatever the position, the end goal is always to drive more sales. That’s why some of the most important skills for a retail job are creativity and the ability to understand people.

Types of retail jobs

There are countless types of retail jobs, but we can break them down into a few basic categories.

  • Sales – This might be selling to a customer, selling to other businesses, or working to improve marketing strategies.
  • Management – Managers oversee a certain department or location. While every retail management job description looks a little different, they’re always concerned with the oversight of staff. Managers generally don’t interact with customers directly.
  • Merchandising – A retail merchandiser job description might involve sourcing new products or building relationships. These jobs are concerned with developing and maintaining products.

Requirements for a retail job

The best way to gain retail job skills is through experience. When you write a cover letter for a job in retail, you’ll always want to highlight your experience in sales, marketing or management.

On top of that, some higher-level retail jobs require a bachelor’s degree. Communications, business and marketing degrees are all useful in the retail industry. It’s uncommon for a retail job to require a master’s or graduate degree, with the exception of high-level executive careers.

How to find the highest paying retail jobs

Like in any industry, it takes time and experience to get the highest paying retail jobs. But you can find a decent starting salary in retail stores or offices if you flex you know how to navigate the hiring process. Job search sites like ZipRecruiter can be a great place to start looking for opportunities.

Polish your resume and write a retail job cover letter that showcases your talents. Don’t be afraid to go to multiple interviews — chances are, the first job offer you get won’t be your best. If you’re interested in pursuing a long-term career in retail, be sure to look for companies that offer management training and plenty of opportunities for growth.

On that note, if you find yourself in a dead-end retail job, you should leverage your experience to find something new. There are plenty of reasons for leaving a job, but one of the most common is a lack of opportunities.

Don’t hesitate to look outside your company or location for a better retail job. Check out our guide on how to prepare for a job interview for more tips.

Highest Paying Retail Jobs FAQ

How many jobs are available in retail?

Tons! From sales to delivery, retail is a complicated process. You don't have to love customer service to become a retail worker — there are thousands of jobs related to retail that require different skills.

What should you wear to a retail job interview?

There is no universal guide on what to wear to a retail job interview. Every job is different. That said, it's important to look professional, and you're usually better off overdressed than underdressed.

What are some interview questions for a retail job?

The best job interview questions for retail should show your interest in the product and day-to-day operations in the company. Don't skip straight to asking about the salary (although you can ask) and showcase your knowledge of the industry.

For example: "What is [company] doing to keep up with [industry trend or challenge]?"

Is retail a good career path?

Retail can be a solid career path if you're interested in creative marketing, branding or leadership.

A sales associate or retail store manager job might not be a profitable career, but as you move up the ladder, you can choose to help the company drive sales in other ways. That might mean managing teams, building relationships or finding new marketing strategies.

How We Chose the Highest Paying Retail Jobs

To pick the seven retail jobs in this article, we looked into more than just average salary, which we obtained from the BLS. Other factors we considered were:

  • Accessibility
  • Good work/life balance
  • Sustainability (jobs that will still be around in 20 years)
  • Transferable job skills
  • Consistent pay in all states

Summary of Money's Highest Paying Retail Jobs

Retail can be a temporary position or a long-term career. Whatever type of job you’re looking for, make sure you find a company that offers great benefits and opportunities.