No Degree? No Problem! Here's How to Become a Retail Store Manager

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Oct 12, 2018

Oct 12, 2018 • by Rebecca Smith

No degree? It can feel like an insurmountable obstacle in a time of degree inflation. What decent job can you get without one?

As it turns out, you can get a job as a retail store manager without getting a degree first. Instead of spending years in college, you can work up through the ranks.

Here's how to become a store manager.

Get a Job at a Retail Store

You'll need a job at a retail store as the first step on your journey to the store manager.

Many people start out with a cashier position where they check out customer purchases. You might also stock shelves, assist customers, or help unload merchandise in the stock area.

Take opportunities to work every position you can. As a future manager, it helps to understand what everyone does.

Discuss Your Intentions

Early on, talk with your management team about your intention to become a store manager. Ask them about the process of moving up the ranks.

They can tell you about any requirements in place. For example, you might need six months or a year of experience before you can apply for a lower-level management position.

The management team can also give you tips for getting the right cross-section of in-store experience. Finally, they can warn you about pitfalls in the process.


Once you tick all the requirement boxes, apply for the next position up the food chain.

In most cases, this means taking charge of a specific area of the store and a small group of employees. This position gives you an opportunity to demonstrate leadership skills, a key skill for store managers.

Most retail stores use several levels of management, such as department manager, assistant store manager and store manager.

You must apply for each level of promotion. You'll take on new responsibilities and learn new skills at each level. Your store may or may not use a management training program as part of the process.

Retail store manager duties can include:

  • supervising employees
  • managing budgets
  • record keeping
  • overseeing HR compliance
  • customer relations
  • merchandising compliance

What's Next?

If you work for a retail chain, management positions don't stop at store manager. The next step up is an operations manager or regional manager, depending on the company.

In this position, you oversee multiple stores in a given area. Rather than focusing on the day-to-day specifics of store operations, you keep your eye on the big picture.

Parting Thoughts on How to Become a Store Manager

There isn't any mystery to how to become a store manager.

It's a basic combination of time and effort. You put in time as a rank-and-file employee and learn your job well.

Then, you do the same thing at each level of management. Don't neglect your soft skills as you advance. While they might not appear on any checklist, deftly handling other people is part of being a manager.

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