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Job Description

Shop or sales assistants will offer face-to-face customer service as well as advising on merchandise, restocking shelves and ensuring that housekeeping in the shop is maintained and that the product displays are appealing.

The role can apply to almost any physical commercial product or service, meaning you could work in shops retailing fashion items, music games and dvds, hardware, computing and mobile technologies, food, books - the list is almost endless. 

Entry Requirements

You could get into this role through an apprenticeship, applying directly or you could take a college course to give you some of the skills required.


You could take an intermediate (level 2) retail assistant apprenticeship

You'll usually need:

  • GCSEs including English and maths or you may be able to take these as part of your course if you don't have English and maths

A college course would give you some of the skills required.  Relevant courses include:

  • Principles of customer service level 2
  • Retail Enterprise level 2 or 3
  • Business & customer service level 3

You will usually need:

  • GCSEs in English and maths or equivalent for a level 2 course 
  • 4 GCSEs grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) including English and maths for a level 3 course

The following colleges may offer a relevant course:

Direct Application

You could apply directly for jobs.  It will help if you have GCSEs in English and maths.  You could get experience by applying for temporary positions on the run up to Christmas.

Career Tips

It will help if you:

  • are confident about selling
  • have a positive, helpful attitude
  • can get on well with a wide range of customers

To get experience, you could:

  • take a temporary job in a store at Christmas
  • take a weekend job
  • volunteer in a charity shop

Some stores, like mobile phone or DIY shops, may expect you to have good knowledge of their products before you apply.

Career Path and Progression

With experience you could become a retail manager or departmental manager.

You could specialise in customer services or buying merchandise.

You could also set up and run your own independent shop or stall.

Related careers you may be interested in:

  • Checkout operator
  • Customer service assistant
  • Customer services manager
  • Market trader
  • Post office customer service assistant

Although you may be able to get into this role without formal qualifications, we highly recommend that you try to achieve at least a grade 4 (C) in English & Maths. Achieving this minimum grade in these subject will increase opportunities in the future and help with your career development and prospects.

If you don't achieve the minimum grades, you will be supported to continue to study English and Maths throughout your full-time education or an apprenticeship.

Required Skills

  • good customer service values
  • ability to communicate effectively
  • organisational skills
  • confidence
  • good interpersonal skills
  • ability to work well as part of a team

Salary Range

£12,500 to £25,000

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