California Occupational Guides

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Summary Guide for

Retail Salespersons in California

May also be called: Clerks; Customer Assistants; Design Consultants; Sales Associates; Sales Clerks; Sales Consultants; Sales Representatives; and Salespersons

What Would I Do?

Retail Salespersons help customers find what they are looking for and provide information on products’ features. To interest customers in buying an item, Salespersons may demonstrate its uses and promote its value. In addition to selling products, Salespersons often conduct financial transactions with customers.

Retail Salespersons generally work in clean, comfortable, well-lit stores since most businesses want to provide their customers with pleasant shopping environments. Retail Salespersons typically do not work a regular Monday-Friday schedule. Many work part-time, particularly during evening and weekend shifts, and during holidays and other peak sales periods.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Retail Salesperson may appeal to those who enjoy working with people and have a friendly, persuasive, and courteous demeanor. Tact and patience are also necessary when providing service to customers with various needs and demands, especially those who may be rude or difficult to please. Salespersons should also be clear and effective communicators.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

Top earners who sell high-end items such as automobiles, electronics, appliances, and furniture can bring in much higher earnings through commissions.

The median wage in 2017 for Retail Salespersons in California was $24,270 annually, or $11.67 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

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Annual Wages for 2017Low
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(75th percentile)
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2017 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
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Benefits vary by employer, but are generally available only to full-time employees. These benefits usually include medical insurance, vacation, sick leave, and sometimes include other health insurance, such as dental and vision coverage, and retirement plans.

What is the Job Outlook?

Most job openings will be created by the need to replace Retail Salespersons who retire or leave the field for other reasons. Opportunities may be greater for Salespersons with more education or experience. Seasonal changes may increase the demand for this job temporarily. Additionally, like many occupations, employment may be sensitive to fluctuations in the economy.

How Do I Qualify?

Employers look for new hires to be at least 16 years old with good customer service and verbal communication skills. However, most employers require at least a high school diploma or the equivalent, especially for Salespersons who sell technical and more expensive items. A college degree may be required for management trainee positions, especially in larger retail establishments. Some employers may require drug testing of new hires prior to employment.

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Applicants can also find employment opportunities through placement offices at colleges and universities. Newspaper classified ads and the Internet provide additional sources for job listings.  Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Learn More About Retail Salespersons