Retailing programs give students the skills to advance through the ranks
from sales clerk to assistant manager and store manager more quickly, or even
to run their own businesses.
Two-year associate's degree programs give students the basics in business
administration, management and sales.
Upper-level management positions in large corporations require at least
a bachelor's degree in commerce or business administration with many years'
experience, or sometimes a master's degree in marketing or management.
Keep in mind that two-year programs tend to focus only on the core business
courses, while four-year degree programs require students to take arts and
science courses as well.
You should find out if you can pursue your education beyond one particular
program. Most programs label their degrees as terminal or transfer.
Terminal means the degree or diploma is not transferable to another college
or university. Transfer means the courses count towards a four-year degree
at a participating college or university.
Programs may have work terms or internships as well.
Retail students take courses in marketing, management, business communications
(written and oral), visual display and presentation, retail finance, business
math, sales, psychology, business computing, accounting and entrepreneurship.
Leadership and communications skills are also vital, says William Perttula.
He is a business professor at San Francisco State University. "Leadership
in clubs of any sort helps students learn planning and organizing skills.
It's important to learn to delegate and supervise, learn to communicate your
He adds that writing and communication skills are also important.
"We require students to write about marketing problems and solutions, and
make oral presentations in several classes. Then, they must work in a team
to write a report and make a presentation as a group."
You can start building your skills in high school. "Extracurricular activities
should include participation in Future Business Leaders of America, holding
offices in student government, and retail work experience," says Diane Pickel,
a professor at Central Pennsylvania College in Harrisburg.
Pickel also suggests students focus on classes that teach computer skills,
business communication and analytical skills.
Besides tuition and books, you may have to get business clothing.
Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Sales
The Retail Network
Links to jobs and careers in the retail industry
Retail Merchandising Fact Sheet
Get some more background on this field