Working in retail with GCSEs (or similar)

With few or no qualifications, you could work as an assistant in a retail store.

This could be in a large retail store or supermarket or in a small high street shop. You could work as a customer service assistant in a call centre dealing with inbound orders or enquiries.

Case study

Working at a supermarket

Harrison Muyeji, supervisor/shift leader at a leading supermarket

After a year’s experience on the shop floor, the manager asked if I’d like to be a team leader. I was pleased to be asked...

Example jobs

Customer service assistant
Taking calls from customers, placing orders, using in-house computer systems.

Retail assistant
Helping and serving customers, operating tills and handling cash, keeping shelves stocked and tidy. (Also known as: sales consultant, sales assistant or sales adviser).

Assistant manager
Supervising staff, making sure the store is clean, well stocked and organised, handling staffing and customer service.

Approximate pay levels

Figures supplied as a guide only

Pay depends on the size of the store. Staff and managers may get sales-related bonuses. Staff may get a discount in the store.

Pay levels graph

Typical working conditions

Things you may need to know:
  • Work can be fast-paced, especially at busy times of the day, week and year.
  • You will be dealing with the public and you are likely to be on your feet for much of the day. You may work shifts and weekends and you may wear a uniform.

Qualifications needed

No qualifications are required, but employers may ask for English and maths GCSE. You need to be customer-focused, polite, friendly and willing to help. If you have a part time job in a shop while you are still at school you’ll see if you like this type of work.

Career path

You could become a team leader or supervisor in a large store or customer service centre. You could progress to assistant manager of a smaller branch or store. You could gain specialist knowledge of a ‘niche’ area such as jewellery or electrical goods. You may be able to study for NVQs in retail or customer service while you are working.

Useful links

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Find out about apprenticeships in retail

Apprenticeships in retail

Types of apprenticeships that you can apply for in the retail sector