Retail Career Profile: Assistant Store Manager

Man and woman checking shelves in specialty grocery

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Every store has a manager and the job of an assistant manager is to back them up. It is a good position for retail employees who have experience and are looking for an avenue of promotion without the need for higher education.

As an assistant manager, your job will be filled with both rewards and challenges. You will be paid more than other store employees and be given more responsibility, but you will also need to make decisions when dealing with employees and customers. For the right person, an assistant manager position can be a rewarding career choice.

What Does an Assistant Manager Do?

The function of the assistant store manager is to support the manager in the daily operations of a retail store. Your role is to supervise employees, work with customers and help carry out the directives of the manager and owner.

  • You will ensure that store personnel provides exceptional customer service. This includes answering questions and assisting with product selection, purchases, and returns as well as handling any disputes.
  • You will help ensure that the store is clean, well organized, and properly merchandised.
  • You will be responsible for making sure that all store policies, procedures, and controls are followed.
  • You will coordinate and oversee the planning, organizing, and delegating of work among staff.

Large department stores often hire multiple assistant managers and each may be in charge of a particular department or segment of the store. They will often act as the primary store manager and carry out the responsibilities of the store manager when they are not available.

Small stores may have only one assistant manager. They are also often asked to be the 'manager on duty' during some shifts.

You may also be asked to create employee schedules, track inventory and work closely with loss prevention and accounting staff. Some stores may include purchasing, budgeting and basic accounting in your duties.

This is a retail position, so you must be ready to work on weekends and evenings. You may also be asked to work on major holidays, especially the busiest shopping days of the year.

Summary of Experience

Assistant managers should have strong interpersonal skills and the ability to deal with problems as they arise. The ability to think quickly and rationally to ever-changing situations will help you succeed in the job.

You will need to have prior retail experience, merchandising skills and be sales oriented. Assistant managers often work their way up through the ranks of a store, beginning as a clerk, then a department supervisor and onto the assistant manager position.

Education and Advancement

As with most retail positions, a high school diploma or GED is the only education requirement. A college degree in business or a closely related field may substitute for a portion of the required experience.

You can also view this position as an entry-level job if you wish to pursue a career in store management. College graduates with a retail or business degree can begin as an assistant manager in order to gain real-world experience in the industry.

Compensation and Benefits

Assistant managers are often hired as full-time employees and may be offered a company's full benefits package. Small retail stores may only require part-time hours and not offer benefits.

The pay for an assistant manager varies greatly among stores. The store's sales volume and location, as well as your experience, will factor into how much money you are offered.

Most often, the pay is based on an hourly rate, though larger stores may offer a salary. The drawback with salaried positions is that many managers are asked to work over 40 hours without additional compensation.

Though it does vary, assistant managers can expect to make well above the current minimum wage because of the responsibilities required of the job. Some assistant managers are very well paid and, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for 'First-Line Supervisors of Retail Workers' in 2015 was $18.42 an hour.