Sales assistant job description

Finding a new career can be a daunting task, especially if you don't know where to look for your dream job.

But what if we told you one of the country's biggest industries has been staring at you everytime you've gone shopping...we're talking about the retail sector, and in particular, sales assistants jobs.


So, what will I actually be doing?

Sales assistants are at the frontline of a fast-paced sector where no two days are ever the same. Far away from the world of office desks and boring business meetings, expect to meet a whole range of people every day. So if you've got an outgoing personality, this is the perfect job for you.

Your main task as a sales assistant is to ensure that customers have an enjoyable shopping experience and spend lots of cash so the business can keep going. As part of this service you'll be expected to:

  • Welcome and advise customers (so practise your smiling)
  • Ensure goods are well displayed (an organised shop is a happy shop)
  • Handle payments
  • Arrange ordering and delivery
  • Receive deliveries from suppliers
  • Keep the shop floor clean and tidy

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The nitty gritty

The hours you work will be dictated by the opening hours of the shop, so you may work part-time, full-time, evenings or weekends. You can expect to work irregular hours as a sales assistant and there’s always plenty of part-time and shift/flexible working options in this job. Shifts can change around busy times such as Christmas or during the summer holidays, so expect more shifts and some overtime tidying the shop.

With so much to do and flexible working options, it's no surprise that a whopping three million people currently work in retail.

Money, money, money

Junior position sales assistants start at around £11k per year which can rise to £25k with experience.

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The good points...

“When you’re working with a good team and you’re meeting your sales targets, this job can be really good fun and exciting,” says Catherine Garragan, a shoe shop sales assistant in Chester.

...and the bad

“You can spend long hours on your feet and it can get really tiring - plus some customers can be really rude!”

Is there study involved?

There are no minimum qualifications to work as a sales assistant and experience counts more than certificates in this job. However, good numeracy and literacy skills will be a bonus, or to give your CV a real boost you could take an Award, Certificate or Diploma in Retail Skills.

While you can take an Award before applying for jobs in retail, you need to have a work placement to take the Certificate or Diploma. Visit the National Retail Skills Academy for more details on courses.

And what can you do with all these new qualifications? Well, there are plenty of opportunities to climb the ladder in retail and a sales assistant can look to move up to a position as a supervisor, store managerarea manager and even in to senior management.

Need additional qualifications? Find a course at our Learning Zone

OK, I'm interested... But is it really the job for me?

If you’re confident, love working with the public and can boast bags of stamina – this is the job for you! Other skills that will help you in this career include:

  • Being a strong team player
  • Polite and helpful
  • Good with numbers
  • Plenty of patience (there'll always be people asking silly questions)


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