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Become An Associate

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Working As An Associate

  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
  • Selling or Influencing Others
  • Getting Information
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • $80,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Associate Do

Retail sales workers include both those who sell retail merchandise, such as clothing, furniture, and cars, (called retail salespersons) and those who sell spare and replacement parts and equipment, especially car parts (called parts salespersons). Both types of workers help customers find the products they want and process customers’ payments.

Duties

Retail sales workers typically do the following:

  • Greet customers and offer them assistance
  • Recommend merchandise based on customers’ wants and needs
  • Explain the use and benefit of merchandise to customers
  • Answer customers’ questions
  • Show how merchandise works, if applicable
  • Add up customers’ total purchases and accept payment
  • Inform customers about current sales, promotions, and policies about payments and exchanges

The following are examples of types of retail sales workers:

Retail salespersons work in stores where they sell goods, such as books, cars, clothing, cosmetics, electronics, furniture, lumber, plants, shoes, and many other types of merchandise.

In addition to helping customers find and select items to buy, many retail salespersons process the payment for the sale, which typically involves operating cash registers.

After taking payment for the purchases, retail salespersons may bag or package the purchases.

Depending on the hours they work, retail salespersons may have to open or close cash registers. This includes counting the money in the register and separating charge slips, coupons, and exchange vouchers. They may also make deposits at a cash office.

For information about other workers who receive and disburse money, see the profile on cashiers.

In addition, retail salespersons may help stock shelves or racks, arrange for mailing or delivery of purchases, mark price tags, take inventory, and prepare displays.

For some retail sales jobs, particularly those involving expensive and complex items, retail sales workers need special knowledge or skills. For example, those who sell cars must be able to explain the features of various models, manufacturers’ specifications, different types of options on the car, financing available, and the details of associated warranties.

In addition, retail sales workers must recognize security risks and thefts and understand their organization’s procedures for handling thefts—procedures that may include notifying security guards or calling police.

Parts salespersons sell spare and replacement parts and equipment, especially car parts. Most work in either automotive parts stores or automobile dealerships. They take customers’ orders, inform customers of part availability and price, and take inventory.

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How To Become An Associate

Typically, there are no formal education requirements for retail sales workers. Most receive on-the-job training, which usually lasts a few days to a few months.

Education

Although retail or parts sales positions usually have no formal education requirements, some employers prefer applicants who have a high school diploma or equivalent, especially employers who sell technical products or “big-ticket” items, such as electronics or cars.

Training

Most retail sales workers receive on-the-job training, which usually lasts a few days to a few months. In small stores, an experienced employee often trains newly hired workers. In large stores, training programs are more formal and usually conducted over several days.

During training sessions, topics often include customer service, security, the store’s policies and procedures, and how to operate the cash register.

Depending on the type of product they are selling, employees may be given additional specialized training. For example, salespersons working in cosmetics get instruction on the types of products the store offers and for whom the cosmetics would be most beneficial. Likewise, those who sell computers may be instructed on the technical differences between computer products.

Because providing exceptional service to customers is a priority for many employers, employees often get periodic training to update and refine their skills.

Advancement

Retail sales workers typically have opportunities to advance to supervisory or managerial positions. Some employers want candidates for managerial positions to have a college degree.

As sales workers gain experience and seniority, they often move into positions that have greater responsibility and may be given their choice of departments in which to work. This opportunity often means moving to positions with higher potential earnings and commissions. The highest earnings potential usually involves selling “big-ticket” items—such as cars, jewelry, furniture, and electronics. These positions often require workers with extensive knowledge of the product and an excellent talent for persuasion.

Important Qualities

Customer-service skills. Retail sales workers must be responsive to the wants and needs of customers. They should explain the product options available to customers and make appropriate recommendations.

Interpersonal skills. A friendly and outgoing personality is important for these workers because the job requires almost constant interaction with people. 

Math skills. Retail sales workers must have the ability to calculate price totals, discounts, and change owed to customers.

Persistence. A large number of attempted sales may not be successful, so sales workers should not be discouraged easily. They must start each new sales attempt with a positive attitude.

Selling skills. Retail sales workers must be persuasive when interacting with customers. They must clearly and effectively explain the benefits of the merchandise.

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Associate Career Paths

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Associate Demographics

Gender

Female

50.2%

Male

47.4%

Unknown

2.4%
Ethnicity

White

60.5%

Hispanic or Latino

15.5%

Black or African American

11.1%

Asian

9.0%

Unknown

3.8%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

49.2%

French

12.1%

Chinese

4.5%

Mandarin

4.4%

German

4.2%

Italian

3.2%

Russian

3.1%

Portuguese

3.0%

Arabic

2.8%

Japanese

2.6%

Hindi

2.3%

Korean

1.9%

Cantonese

1.4%

Vietnamese

1.0%

Urdu

0.9%

Polish

0.8%

Greek

0.7%

Hebrew

0.7%

Tagalog

0.6%

Carrier

0.6%
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Associate Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

13.9%

Georgetown University

6.4%

New York University

6.0%

Temple University

5.5%

George Washington University

5.3%

Liberty University

5.2%

New York Law School

4.8%

Fordham University

4.7%

University of Pennsylvania

4.7%

Boston University

4.4%

Pennsylvania State University

4.3%

Florida State University

4.2%

Columbia University

4.1%

Southern New Hampshire University

3.9%

American University

3.9%

University of Texas at Austin

3.9%

Hofstra University

3.9%

University of Houston

3.9%

George Mason University

3.7%

Ashford University

3.6%
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Majors

Business

21.7%

Law

14.2%

Psychology

6.0%

Finance

5.9%

Accounting

5.6%

Criminal Justice

5.3%

Communication

4.2%

Nursing

3.3%

Health Care Administration

3.3%

General Studies

3.3%

Computer Science

3.2%

Management

3.1%

Marketing

2.9%

Biology

2.8%

English

2.8%

Political Science

2.8%

Medical Assisting Services

2.5%

Liberal Arts

2.4%

Education

2.3%

Graphic Design

2.3%
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Degrees

Bachelors

35.1%

Other

24.4%

Masters

14.5%

Associate

10.5%

Doctorate

9.8%

Certificate

4.0%

Diploma

1.4%

License

0.4%
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Real Associate Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Associate Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP New York, NY Aug 29, 2016 $315,000
Associate Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, LLP New York, NY Aug 24, 2016 $315,000 -
$335,000
U.S. Associate Linklaters LLP New York, NY Sep 15, 2016 $300,000
Associate Proskauer Rose LLP New York, NY Sep 16, 2016 $300,000
Associate (Quantitative Researcher) Ajo LP Boston, MA Apr 23, 2015 $300,000 -
$400,000
Associate OEP Capital Advisors L.P. New York, NY Jan 13, 2015 $300,000
Associate Shearman & Sterling LLP Washington, DC Aug 25, 2015 $290,000
Associate Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP CA Oct 01, 2015 $290,000
Associate Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP New York, NY Aug 26, 2016 $290,000
Associate Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP Washington, DC Dec 22, 2015 $290,000
Associate Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP New York, NY Aug 25, 2016 $290,000
Associate Shearman & Sterling LLP Washington, DC Mar 02, 2016 $290,000
Associate Goldman, Sachs & Co. New York, NY Sep 01, 2015 $122,200
Strategy Associate Google Inc. Mountain View, CA Oct 26, 2015 $122,200
Associate Goldman Sachs Services LLC New York, NY Nov 12, 2015 $122,000
AMS Associate 7 Deloitte Consulting LLP San Francisco, CA Mar 23, 2016 $121,997 -
$152,000
Associate Goldman, Sachs & Co. New York, NY Sep 30, 2016 $121,700
Associate Freehills Us New York, NY Jul 15, 2015 $121,504
Associate Goldman, Sachs & Co. New York, NY Sep 01, 2015 $121,500
Associate Goldman, Sachs & Co. New York, NY Sep 01, 2015 $121,300
Associate Goldman Sachs Services LLC Jersey City, NJ Oct 21, 2016 $85,900
Associate 6 Deloitte Consulting LLP Dallas, TX May 06, 2016 $85,883 -
$148,400
Associate Blackrock Financial Management, Inc. San Francisco, CA Aug 03, 2015 $85,862 -
$87,613
Associate Blackrock Institutional Trust Company, N.A. San Francisco, CA Feb 09, 2016 $85,862 -
$120,000
Associate Goldman Sachs & Co. New York, NY Dec 01, 2015 $85,800
Associate 6 Deloitte Consulting LLP Richmond, VA Jun 25, 2015 $85,800 -
$122,000

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Top Skills for An Associate

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  1. Customer Service
  2. New Merchandise
  3. Procedures
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Provided exceptional customer service including cash register function and assisting customers in an effective and courteous manner.
  • Collected damaged & delivered new merchandise to appropriate locations.
  • Developed and updated Environmental Standard Operating Procedures and Health and Safety Procedures.
  • Assisted senior management in analyzing and preparing financial statements, reports, and PowerPoint presentations.
  • Controlled safety standards in hazardous work environment.

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