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How to Become a Fashion Retail Manager

Research the requirements to become a fashion retail manager. Learn about the job description and duties, and read the step-by-step process to start a career in fashion retail management.

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Do I Want to Be a Fashion Retail Manager?

Fashion retail managers oversee the sales staff at a clothing store or in a specific department of a retail business, depending on the size of the establishment. They are responsible for interviewing and hiring new employees, as well as training them for the job and handling customer service inquiries. They ensure that all employees stay on-task and that all store operations run smoothly.

These managers usually work in comfortable clothing stores, but they often spend the majority of their shift standing and walking. The weekends and holidays are the busiest times for shopping, so many managers usually must work during these periods. Overseeing the sales staff and ensuring customer satisfaction are responsibilities that can sometimes be demanding for fashion retail managers.

Job Requirements

Potential fashion retail managers can either work their way up the chain of command at a retail store or earn an associate's or a bachelor's degree in retail management. Those who work their way up to the position usually need 3-5 years of experience in retail. The following table outlines common requirements to become a fashion retail manager:

Common Requirements
Degree Level No degree is required, but an associate's or bachelor's may improve career outlook*
Degree Field Management, business or related field*
Experience 3-5 years of retail work experience**
Key Skills Customer service skills, people skills, persistence, selling skills*, problem solving skills, management skills***
Computer Skills Ability to use calendar and scheduling software, gift registry software, time card software, retail software, time accounting software***

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **job postings (November 2012), ***O*Net OnLine

Step 1: Gain Work Experience

In most cases, work experience is more important than educational background. Fashion retail managers are generally expected to have worked in a fashion retail establishment where they learned customer service, merchandising and management skills. According to job postings found in November 2012, most companies required applicants to have at least 3-5 years of retail and/or customer service experience.

Aspiring fashion retail managers can apply for entry-level positions in retail stores, such as cashier positions. Entry-level jobs enable individuals to gain experience and can possibly lead to a promotion to management later in their careers.

Step 2: Consider Earning a Degree

There are no formal educational requirements for fashion retail managers. However, salary is typically commensurate with the highest educational degree achieved, and a degree in retail management could help a candidate obtain a job more quickly and make him or her more eligible for advancement. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) a college degree may also be preferred or required by some employers. Potential fashion retail managers can seek a degree in business, fashion management or a comparable discipline. Any courses related to accounting, marketing or sales can be beneficial.

Success Tip:

  • Participate in an internship. College and university programs may be able to place students in an internship program at a fashion retail store. Interns can learn valuable lessons from an experienced retail manager that can help them in their career.

Step 3: Hone Skills

Fashion retail managers must have superior team management skills. They should excel at interviewing, scheduling, employer-employee relations and communication because they will be fielding customer questions and inquiries. Good judgment and decision-making skills are also important for fashion retail managers; they will be expected to take initiative and motivate employees.

But perhaps most importantly, fashion retail managers should have an extensive knowledge of fashion. They may be responsible for store displays and inventory, and they are expected to understand what customers want, how to sell it and when to order more.

Step 4: Complete Training

Training programs differ by company or particular establishment. During a training period, fashion retail managers will work with an experienced supervisor and learn the policies and procedures included in their new job. They may also be required to attend off-site training to learn about things like interviewing, inventory and team management.

Success Tip:

  • Continue education. While not required, fashion retail managers can voluntarily continue their education to improve their skills and further their careers. Managers without degrees can pursue degrees, or degree-holding managers can take classes in sales or fashion to learn more about the products they sell.
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