Retail Management Degrees: Associate, Bachelor & Online Course Info

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What will you learn in a retail management degree program? Read about retail management requirements, the pros and cons of an associate's degree versus a bachelor's degree and potential careers.
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Study Retail Management: Degrees at a Glance

Retail management degrees are available for students who wish to work in retail settings. These degrees are intended to enhance your knowledge of the retail field and to prepare you to work with customers and employees. You'll learn about a variety of different topics, such as product handling, administration duties and customer relations.

Careers in the retail industry are expected to grow about as fast as average from 2010 to 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The retail industry is directly linked to the economy, so as the American economy improves, you can expect to see job growth in the retail industry. However, business-to-business sales are expected to increase quicker than business-to-consumer sales, because more and more people are doing their shopping directly via the internet.

Associate's degree Bachelor's degree
Who is this degree for? Students who either currently work in sales or who are interested in working in sales Individuals who work in sales and intend to become a manager
Common career paths (with approx. median salary)* - Retail sales worker ($21,000 - To be a sales worker, a college degree is not typically necessary, but it will help you stand out. Some employers also do not require a high school degree; for those with less than high school experience, salary may vary)*- Sales manager ($99,000)*
- Advertising, promotions and marketing managers ($108,000)*
- Purchasing manager, buyer or purchasing agent ($58,000 - salary varies greatly depending on education and experience)*
Time to completion2 years, full time4 years, full time
Common graduation requirements - Minimum of 60 credits
- General education courses
- Retail management core courses
- Liberal arts classes
- Electives
- Senior seminar
Prerequisites - High school diploma or GED
- Experience working in sales or a desire to work in sales
- High school diploma, GED or associate's degree
- Previous work experience in sales is a plus
Online availability Online degree programs are available Online programs are available

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010 figures).

Associate's Degree in Retail Management

An associate's degree in retail management can prepare you for a career in the retail industry. This degree is ideal for those who already work in retail and intend to advance their careers. It is also for individuals who wish to begin a career in retail upon graduation.

A career in retail management typically requires you to have a bachelor's degree, and some employers even prefer those with master's degrees. However, an associate's degree and significant experience working in retail may suffice for certain employers. As the economy grows, more retail workers are needed, but online shopping is steadily taking customers away from the in-person sales experience.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • An associate's degree in retail management can help you advance your career in retail
  • The field is growing as quickly as average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • While the starting pay is around $10 an hour for retail workers, pay may be adjusted according to education level*

Cons

  • Most retail management positions require a bachelor's degree
  • Business-to-consumer sales are beginning to decrease as internet sales become more popular
  • You are typically required to have significant sales experience before becoming a retail management

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010 figures).

Courses and Requirements

General education courses are required, so you can expect to take classes in composition, math, computers, and history. The majority of your course load will consist of retail management classes. These may include the following:

  • Business communication
  • Management skills
  • Retail transportation
  • Human resources fundamentals
  • Business and supply chain analytics

Online Degree Options

Some colleges and universities offer online degrees in retail management. These programs allow you to earn your associate's degree remotely, from the comfort of your own home. You may choose to attend school full- or part-time. The courses offered are generally the same as the on-campus classes, and you're still expected to complete the general education requirements.

Stand Out With This Degree

The best way to stand out in addition to earning this degree is to have a significant amount of work experience. It is important to have excellent customer service skills and leadership savvy if you intend to become a retail manager. Additionally, knowledge of the product you are selling is vital. Because the Internet is such a large force in the retail industry today, strong computer skills are also highly valuable to employers.

Bachelor's Degree in Retail Management

The retail management bachelor's degree trains you to step into a managerial role in sales or for a career in marketing or purchasing. The minimum educational requirement for these jobs is a bachelor's degree. In these programs, you'll learn how to develop managerial skills, practice proper business ethics and effectively communication with customers and employees.

Bachelor's degree programs in retail management will give you the hands-on experience you need to succeed upon graduation. Careers in this field aren't expected to grow very quickly between 2010 and 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, with a bachelor's degree and sales experience, you are sure to have the upper hand.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • A bachelor's degree is the typical education requirements for jobs in the retail management and purchasing fields
  • Internships offer you hands-on experience and may help you when searching for a job after graduation
  • These programs will train you to work in a variety of different retail settings

Cons

  • There are generally few sales manager positions available within each store, and according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, they aren't likely to be let go.
  • Employers also look for considerable sales experience when hiring retail managers
  • Some employers require a graduate degree for upper-level jobs in purchasing management and buying

Courses and Requirements

Any 4-year, liberal arts college will require you to take general education courses such as English, history, math, and science. You'll also be required to choose electives from outside your major track. Major course requirements for a bachelor's degree in retail management may include the following:

  • Organizational behavior
  • Management ethics
  • Consumer behavior
  • Management communications
  • Branding and advertising
  • Visual retailing concepts

Online Degree Options

Online bachelor's degree programs in retail management are available. These programs will train you to work in sales management or purchasing with the same structure as on-campus programs. Course offerings remain practically the same, but you'll be missing the hands-on training that some colleges and universities offer to on-campus students.

Stand Out With This Degree

As with the associate's degree, it is important that you have sales experience and good customer relation skills. Also, technological proficiency is becoming increasingly imperative in the field of retail management because so many things are completed on a computer, such as inventory and tracking work hours. Look for degree programs that offer training in e-commerce to stand out even more.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate: Business Admin.
      • AASBA in Sales
      • AASBA in Customer Service
      • AASBA in Retail Management
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Science - Business Management
      • Associate of Science - Business Studies
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Science in Business Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts - Accounting
  • Online Programs Available
    5. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts in Business Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • A.S. Business
      • A.S. General Studies - Business
      • A.S. General Studies - Marketing
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Thomas Edison State University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • AS in Business Administration (ASBA)
  • Blue Ash, OH

    University of Cincinnati

  • Online Programs Available
    9. Southern New Hampshire University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • AS in Business Administration
      • AS in Fashion Merchandising
      • AS in Marketing

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • Associate: Business Admin.
  • AASBA in Sales
  • AASBA in Customer Service

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Herzing University

  • Associate of Science - Business Management
  • Associate of Science - Business Studies

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Colorado Technical University

  • Associate of Science in Business Administration

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Keiser University

  • Associate of Arts - Accounting

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American InterContinental University

  • Associate of Arts in Business Administration

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Indiana Wesleyan University

  • A.S. Business
  • A.S. General Studies - Business
  • A.S. General Studies - Marketing

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Thomas Edison State University

  • AS in Business Administration (ASBA)

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