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A Career In Retail

02 Mar 2020


Working in retail offers a myriad of career opportunities

A career in retail offers more career progression opportunities and more role diversity than any other discipline. It is still one of the few careers that you can enter with little or no qualifications or experience and still get to the top! So just why is working in retail a career option that shouldn’t be ignored?  

According to “Retail Ireland”, the voice of Irish retailers, the retail industry is the country’s largest industry and the largest private sector employer in Ireland. The retail sector in Ireland employs over 285,000 people with over 72% of that number based outside of Dublin. It’s the biggest contributor to the Irish exchequer generating over 23% of the total tax receipts in Ireland. To put that into perspective, that’s more than twice that of Ireland’s second biggest sector, financial services which accounts for just 11%. It also accounts for over 14% of the national employment figures and despite dark warnings about Brexit and supply chain issues, the sector is set to grow with gross disposable income up and the consumer economy rising again.

Qualifications needed

It is true that to work in retail, you don’t necessarily need a qualification or experience. At entry level, there is very little required other than the most basic training and common sense. However, more and more colleges are offering some type of qualification in retail be it a certificate in retail management or a diploma in visual merchandising. There are plenty of courses both full-time and part-time on offer to enhance retail careers. Once you start to progress however, qualifications do help, offering practical advice on all aspects of retail including retail management, business planning, merchandising, operations, cost management and implementation of new technologies for retail.

Flexible hours and pay

Wages in the Irish retail sector are the 4th highest in the EU. Ireland has a relatively generous minimum wage and since 1st February 2020, that’s been €10.10 per hour. Retail also usually tends to offer discounts to their employees.   

Hours too, can be flexible and Sundays / bank holidays offer premium rates which can be in the form of paid time off or additional wages agreed by the employer.  The use of zero hours contracts was never really that extensive in Ireland. In fact they were prohibited in most circumstances under the Organisation of Working Time Act which was introduced in 1997 and last year’s Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act further restricted the use of zero hours contracts so the retail industry (where zero hour contracts could have been used) is still relatively stable in terms of providing hours of work for their employees.  With retail being a 7 day non regular 9-5 job, it’s easy to work flexible shifts that work around the employee’s needs too.

Diversity of role

There is plenty of diversity of roles within retail. It’s one area that offers careers for both extroverts and introverts. While extroverts may be involved in full facing customer service roles, the introverts may be happier in a stock-room role or planning visual displays that will appeal to the consumer. Sales staff, buyers, planners, inventory controllers, visual merchandisers, cashiers, customer service representatives and management, the list of roles is endless. Retail also massively promotes diversity in their staff – this allows for part-timers, parents returning to work after having children, students etc. 

Career progression

Depending on what you want, there are plenty of career progression opportunities within retail. The bigger companies eg. department stores or grocery chains do offer management training programmes to their staff. There may be a mistaken perception of retail as a relatively static industry for career promotion but the reality is that anyone who works hard, gets to know both their product and their customer, are set for their careers to soar. In smaller companies (85% of retail businesses in Ireland employ less than 10 people), there is a terrific opportunity to learn all aspects of retail including taking on responsibility for social media for the brand or organising events for customer attraction.

Good for your health

If you still need convincing about a career in retail, then think of all the money you’ll save on gym subscriptions. Working in retail means you’re constantly on the move, walking the floor, stretching to reach stock, leaning down to stock boxes or bag up goods for your customer. So after a day working in retail, there’ll be no need to go to the gym.


If you’re interested in a career move either into or upwards in  retail, contact Emma Anglim by email,  call her on (01) 6621000