How to become a sales assistant (in-depth guide and salary)

Updated 21 February 2023

Many individuals looking to enter the workforce are interested in learning how to become a sales assistant as it can accommodate those lacking professional experience. Sales assistants, also known as retail assistants, are a crucial part of the retail industry as they're the direct point of contact for customers when shopping. Understanding what a sales assistant does and how to become one can help you decide whether this is a role you're interested in pursuing. In this article, we discuss what a sales assistant does, show their salary and explain the skills that are necessary for this role.

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What is a sales assistant?

A sales assistant is an employee in charge of maintaining a retail space and who acts as the first point of contact for customer queries. The role includes a lot of interpersonal and organisational skills, as the majority of the job's responsibilities are helping customers, stocking inventory and cleaning the shop. The position is suitable for those with limited professional experience. Many students see it as a transitory job as they look to develop their CVs and grow as working adults. Here are some additional responsibilities and duties a sales assistant has:

  • ensuring customer satisfaction through interpersonal skills

  • keeping stock of inventory

  • maintaining the visual aesthetic of the retail space and its visual merchandise

  • processing transactions through a point-of-sale system

  • receiving new shipments of inventory and unloading it

  • studying and researching brand guidelines and background

  • making recommendations and assisting customers with purchasing products

How to become a sales assistant

There are no set career paths on how to become a sales assistant, as the role doesn't require any formal education or previous work experience. Regardless, some general pointers can help you make decisions to develop your professional career in this role. Here are some steps you can take if you're interested in becoming a retail assistant:

1. Develop your CV

A CV helps you highlight your strengths, educational background and skills, even if they're intangible soft skills. Many employers wish to see how you can fit into their work environment and what you may provide to the team. Listing relevant information specific to the job allows them to understand how you can contribute if they hire you. If you have no previous job experience, inform the employer how you've developed valuable skills through extracurricular clubs, school projects or volunteer work.

There are many templates and tutorials online that can assist you in the CV creation process if you're unsure how to make one. Additionally, you can apply specific tips and tricks to your CV, highlighting your other strengths without professional experience. If you have prior work experience as a sales assistant in another company, list your responsibilities and primary duties so the new hiring organisation can see what you would bring to the role.


  • How To Write a Sales Assistant CV

  • How to write a sales assistant cover letter (with examples)

2. Practise the interview

When applying for a retail assistant job, all candidates undergo an interviewing process where the location manager or other authority within the company gets to know you a bit better. It's important that you practise the interview or review what you may say in certain circumstances to familiarise yourself with the content and information. Preparing the answers you intend to give can increase your confidence and help ensure that you include all the relevant details. Presenting in a calm and confident manner can also show the employer that you're a good match for the role.

Related: A guide on how to ace an interview (with tips and examples)

3. Review your options

The sales assistant role has a high turnover rate, as many employees see it as a transitory job to develop intangible business skills, so there are often a number of jobs on the market. When applying for a job in the retail industry, carefully consider your options and seek out which contracts and conditions are best for you. Frequently search for opportunities on online job listing websites, local social media pages or bulletin boards to find the best sales assistant job for you.

4. Participate in a trial

You can begin the trial process once you've completed the interview process and the employer feels you're a good fit. The trial process typically includes offering candidates a lower hourly rate as they integrate themselves into the work environment. A senior assistant or manager shows the candidate how to carry out primary duties, educates them on any guidelines and instructions and corrects them when they make mistakes. Once the candidate has finished their trial period, they receive the normal hourly rate if the company finalises the contract and accepts them as part of the team.

How much does a sales assistant earn?

The average salary of a sales assistant is £23,145 per year. There are opportunities to earn a higher salary if you stay at a particular location for a significant amount of time and gain managerial status. Salaries also depend on location and previous experience. Retail locations in major cities offer higher salaries to all employees due to the higher cost of living associated with cities. The salary of a sales assistant varies greatly depending on the hiring organisation, as some offer significantly more than others.

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Sales assistant skills

Sales assistants require a variety of competencies ranging from soft interpersonal skills to knowledge of brand guidelines and products. Here are some more skills that can help you develop and succeed in the role:

Communication skills

Being a sales assistant involves interacting with customers, colleagues, managers and those involved in the store's supply chain, so having good communication skills is important. One aspect of retail assistants is to share information with and provide assistance to colleagues and suppliers. This requires technical knowledge of the brand and specific store requirements and being able to convey these concise to help streamline processes.

Another important component of being a sales assistant is the ability to talk to customers and provide them with assistance in a polite and friendly manner. Being able to communicate effectively and provide good customer service can improve the customers' experience and may result in positive reviews, which reflect well on you and improve the store's reputation. The key to providing strong customer service is to provide assistance in a polite and friendly manner.

Related: Why is communication important? (And how to improve it)

Organisational ability

Some primary duties of the retail assistant role include maintaining and organising stock, placing products and overseeing store aesthetics, all of which require organisational ability. It's important to ensure that there is enough stock both in the back room and in the front so the store always has a full range of products to sell. Throughout the day or on certain days of the week, the location may also receive shipments of stock, and it's the assistant's responsibility to account for it, keep a record of it and ensure its proper storage.


As a sales assistant, you represent the brand and company you work for, and employers require all employees to stay professional and polite. Having a professional attitude during work hours can increase your efficiency at the job and may lead to promotion opportunities. The training or trial period that your employer provides you with educates you on how to behave in-store to stay professional and provide efficient customer service for maximum satisfaction.

Related: 10 professionalism characteristics and why they're important


Sales assistants require different skills and knowledge to tackle new challenges they face every day. As a retail assistant, you may encounter unruly customers who make unreasonable demands, and it requires diplomacy and professionalism to handle such issues. On other days, you may face unforeseen supply chain and logistics issues. Training can give you the tools to solve any challenges you may encounter, but every day requires a certain amount of improvisation and adaptability.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.


  • What does a sales assistant do? (And how to become one)

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