A retail management associate degree provides a foundation in business, retail, and management. Students interested in learning about the day-to-day operations of a retail store will benefit from a retail management degree. Retail is the buying and selling of products for a profit, whether it’s from a physical store, online, or on a global trade scale. Retail management includes areas such as employee management, business basics, accounting, merchandising, and sales. After earning an associate degree in retail management, students should be ready to take on a basic managerial role in a retail store, they should have the background to pursue higher-level management courses, and they should have a thorough understanding of ins and outs of running a business.
Why an Associate Degree?
There are typically no degree requirements to apply for a basic sales assistant job in a retail store. Many sales assistants hold only high school degrees. An associate degree in retail management would give graduates a leg up when applying for a management position. Although experience working in retail is important when it comes to attaining promotions and acceptance into management positions, a degree is proof that you have also studied retail management in depth. An associate degree coupled with experience working in a retail store has the potential to make you a first pick for management positions, and it may give you a better chance at future promotions. An associate degree is also a good way to gain foundational credits on the way to a bachelor’s degree. In an online program, it would be possible to get retail experience and work toward your bachelor’s at the same time.
Getting into an Associate Degree Program
The requirements for entry to online retail management programs vary from school to school. Typical requirements are as follows:
- High school diploma.
- SAT and/or ACT scores.
- High school GPA information.
Inside an Associate Degree Program
Getting a retail management associate degree online will be roughly the same as getting an associate degree at a traditional university. It will start out with basic business courses, similar to what you would see in an associate business management program, and then move into more specific areas of retail management. Topics will likely include buying, sales, merchandising, marketing, accounting, and employee management. Students may also complete individual projects in some of these areas. An associate degree will be less intensive than a bachelor’s degree, usually entailing more basic courses and less of a focus in specific areas of retail management.
Online programs are usually more flexible than traditional on-campus programs. Students can complete coursework on their own time and are not typically required to be present online at any particular hour. Other than that, the courses will function in the same manner as a traditional program. Students will do reading, take tests and quizzes, listen to or read lecture materials, and be required to participate in class discussion. This takes place within an online learning platform that all students can access and use as a virtual classroom, collaborating on assignments and discussing lectures with professors.
Students are provided with contact information for professors. Classmates often exchange contact information, as well. Associate programs usually last about two years, but online students often have the opportunity to either accelerate their program time or spread them out over the course of several years.
What’s Next for Retail Management Associate Degree Holders?
An associate degree in retail management will provide a foot in the door for management positions in retail. After graduation, candidates may be able to move directly into a mid-level or upper-level management position in a store. They may also use their associate degree to begin a path toward other areas of retail, like merchandising. One positive aspect of earning an associate degree in retail management online is the opportunity to work in retail as your pursue you degree, since the course scheduling can be so flexible.
Once you get a position as a retail manager, the average yearly salary is around $45,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Salaries will vary depending on the type of industry you work in, the type of the store, and the scope of the position. As your experience grows, the opportunity to make high salaries will also increase. The BLS also reports little to no employment growth in the retail sector as of May 2011, so this could mean that a job search will be competitive. However, a degree in retail management will show that you have more extensive knowledge about the industry than someone without a degree.