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Sales Worker Supervisors - What They Do

How to Advance (Advancement)
Supervisors who display leadership and team-building skills, motivation, and decisiveness may become candidates for promotion to assistant manager or manager. A postsecondary degree may speed their advancement into management. In many retail establishments, managers are promoted from within the company. In small retail establishments, where the number of positions is limited, advancement to a higher management position also may be limited. Large establishments often have extensive career ladder programs and may offer supervisors the opportunity to transfer to another store in the chain or to the central office. Although promotions may occur more rapidly in large establishments, some managers may need to relocate every several years to be able to advance.

Supervisors also can become advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales managers—workers who coordinate marketing plans, monitor sales, and propose advertisements and promotions. They may also become purchasing managers, buyers, or purchasing agents—workers who purchase goods and supplies for their organization or for resale.

Some supervisors who have worked in their industry for a long time open their own stores or sales firms. However, retail trade and sales occupations are highly competitive, and although many independent owners succeed, some fail to cover expenses and eventually go out of business.

Sales worker supervisors held about 2.2 million jobs in 2008. Approximately 34 percent were self-employed, many of whom were store owners. About 48 percent of sales worker supervisors were wage and salary workers employed in the retail sector. Some of the largest employers were grocery stores, department stores, clothing and clothing accessory stores, and general merchandise stores such as warehouse clubs and supercenters. The remaining sales worker supervisors worked in nonretail establishments.

Job Outlook
Employment is projected to grow more slowly than average. Competition for jobs is expected; applicants with a college degree or sales experience should have the best opportunities.

Job Growth
Employment of sales worker supervisors is expected to grow by 5 percent between 2008 and 2018, more slowly than the average for all occupations. Job growth will be limited as retail companies increase the responsibilities of retail salespersons and existing sales worker supervisors, and as the retail industry, overall, grows at a slow rate.

Projected employment growth of sales worker supervisors will mirror, in part, the patterns of employment growth in the industries in which they work. For example, faster growth is expected in the professional, scientific, and technical services industry, as a result of strong demand for the services that this industry provides. Conversely, growth of sales worker supervisors will increase more slowly in the retail sector, in-line with overall industry growth.

Similar to other supervisor positions, competition is expected for sales worker supervisor jobs over the 2008-18 period. Candidates who have a college degree, and those with experience—as a sales representative, cashier, or customer service representative, for example—will have the best opportunities.

Some job openings over the next decade will occur as experienced supervisors move into higher levels of management, transfer to other occupations, or leave the labor force. However, these job openings will not be great in number since movement into upper management is also competitive.

Wages of sales worker supervisors vary substantially, depending on a worker's level of responsibility, length of service, and the type, size, and location of the firm.

Median annual wages of supervisors of retail sales workers were $35,310, including commissions, in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $27,520 and $46,450. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,210, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $61,970.

Median annual wages of supervisors of non-retail sales workers were $68,100, including commissions, in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $51,380 and $98,080. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $36,830, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $136,180.

Compensation systems vary by type of establishment and by merchandise sold. Many supervisors receive a commission or a combination of salary and commission. Under a commission system, supervisors receive a percentage of department or store sales. Thus, these supervisors' earnings depend on their ability to sell their product and the condition of the economy.

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