Sales assistant

shop assistant store assistant sales staff

Career outlook for sales assistant

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures.

Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would serve customers and look after stock in a shop such as a supermarket, fashion store or department store.

Your aim would be to help people have a great shopping experience. You could work in a large chain store or a smaller independent retailer. Your place of work might be anywhere, but would probably be on your local high street or in a shopping centre.

You would:

  • Serve and advise customers
  • Take payments
  • Help customers to find the goods they want
  • Order goods and look after stock
  • Give information on products and prices
  • Stack shelves or display goods in an attractive way
  • Arrange window displays
  • Promote special offers or store cards
  • Handle complaints or pass them on to a manager

Some stores, for example mobile phone shops, DIY or electrical goods stores, may expect you to have a lot of knowledge about their products before you apply.

Working conditions


In a full-time job you would normally work between 35 and 40 hours a week, possibly including weekends and evenings. Part-time work is often available and you may work shifts.


You would spend a lot of time on your feet and may need to lift and carry items of stock. You would often wear a uniform.

UK employment status





Self employed


Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Positive attitude
  • Cooperating
  • Verbal communication
  • Working with numbers
  • Respecting
  • Attention to detail
  • Managing resources
  • Mentoring

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.


There are no formal qualifications required to enter this role but most employers value a good general education and some employers may ask for qualifications at SCQF levels 4 to 6.

You can enter some National Certificate or National Qualification courses (SCQF 5-6) with no formal qualifications but most courses ask for National 4/5 qualifications (SCQF level 4/5).

Useful subjects

  • English
  • Maths

You will also need

Good customer care skills.

Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience that show good customer service skills and levels of numeracy such as Skills for Work Retailing (SCQF Level 5) or a National Certificate / National Qualification in Retail (SCQF 5-6).

Relevant work-based qualifications such as a Scottish Vocational Qualification in Retail (SVQ Level 2/3) or be willing to work towards qualifications once in a job.

Some experience of working with the public. Many stores take on staff at Christmas and this can be a good way of gaining experience which may lead to a permanent job.

Explore more information about this job