How much will I earn in retail, buying and fashion?

How much will I earn in retail?
How much do salaries for graduates and apprentices differ and what jobs within the retail industry are the most highly paid?

There are various routes into the retail industry and they all offer different levels of salary. Find out what you could earn and how your salary could grow.

How much can I earn on an apprenticeship in retail?

Salaries for apprenticeships vary from retailer to retailer and will also be affected by what role you take on. Apprentices tend to be paid significantly less than graduates but will not gain student debt. However, they may not be paid as much as a graduate immediately following their apprenticeship: a lot of graduate schemes are aimed at training future managers but not all apprenticeship roles lead to management.

Examples of level 4 (higher) apprenticeships, through which you gain a qualification equivalent to a foundation degree or HND, include:

  • Arcadia offers a level 4 merchandising apprenticeship in partnership with the Fashion Retail Academy.
  • Morrisons offers a two-year CIMA apprenticeship in which apprentices will work towards a diploma in business accounting practice.
  • Tesco runs a commercial apprenticeship that gives training in buying and merchandising on a two-year course with a £20,000 salary. It also has a level 4 F&F apprenticeship in fashion buying and merchandising at £20,000.

The vast majority of retail apprenticeships are level 3 (advanced) or level 2 (intermediate). Through level 3 apprenticeships you gain qualifications equivalent to A levels and level 2 apprenticeships give you qualifications equivalent to GCSEs.

Some of the level 3 and level 2 apprenticeships pay close to the minimum wage for apprentices of £3.40 an hour (from October 2016), although there are schemes that pay significantly more.

Example of a level 3 apprenticeship:

  • Aldi’s stores apprenticeship is a three-year programme offering £183 per week in the first year, £229 per week in the second year and £273 in the third year. Those who successfully complete their apprenticeship will have the opportunity to take on a permanent role in the company.
  • Thomson's retail apprenticeship is a two-year programme offering £150 a week and there are opportunities for permanent positions at the end of the apprenticeship.

How much can I earn on a sponsored degree?

Sponsorship is when you work for the retailer while it pays for your degree course. You’ll study for one day a week or take a period of study leave from work. Degree sponsorship is not common in the retail industry, but Morrisons runs a sponsored degree that is split into manufacturing, corporate, logistics, retail and supply chain.

What salaries are offered by graduate schemes in retail?

Salaries for graduates vary widely. Here is a general overview of what you can expect from different retailers, based on data collected by our graduate careers site TARGETjobs in 2017:

  • Aldi: area manager graduate programme – £44,000 rising to £76,495 after four years.
  • Boots: retail management talent programme, supply chain graduate programme, global commercial programme and operations programme – all pay £26,000.
  • Halfords: retail management scheme, and commercial scheme (buying, marketing and digital) – £24,000.
  • Majestic Wine: trainee manager – £19,300.
  • Marks & Spencer: buying – £25,000; merchandising – £25,000; Simply Food store management – £25,000–£28,000; supply chain and logistics – £28,000.
  • McDonald’s: trainee manager – £22,000–£25,000.

Junior fashion design jobs tend to pay between £15,000 and £25,000, while a starting role in visual merchandising typically pays between £12,000 and £20,000.

What can I earn as an experienced professional?

Earning potential varies as you move up the career ladder. Examples of average salaries, courtesy of Reed, include:

  • Buyer – £33,503.
  • Logistics – £27,410.
  • Warehouse supervisor – £23,775.
  • Merchandiser: £26,753.
  • Merchandiser in fashion – £32,300.

Further examples of average salaries, courtesy of Glassdoor, include:

  • Senior buyer – £40,600.
  • Warehouse manager – £30,450.
  • Area manager – £41,000.

What benefits and perks does the retail industry offer?

Benefits usually provided by retailers include staff discounts (sometimes upwards of 20%), further discounts with selected companies, pensions and health schemes. Some big retailers give interest-free loans to help pay for any commuting costs. A number of retailers may also provide benefits that you might not find elsewhere in the retail industry: for example, Aldi gives those on its area management graduate programme an Audi A4, Lidl runs a sabbatical scheme (where you are given an extended period of leave from your job) and Ikea gives an end-of-year present to employees as a thank you for their work.

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