Lost Your Retail Job? Check Out These Career Opportunities.

New Jobs for Retail Workers

Retail store going out of business
••• Mark Williamson / Getty Images

In an article on CNN Money Chris Isidore reports that, according to Labor Department data, retail jobs at traditional department stores dropped by 46 percent between 2001 and 2016 (Department Stores Have Lost More Jobs Than Coal Mines). This job decline is a steeper one than other struggling industries have experienced during the same period. Coal mining jobs, for example, dropped by 32 percent, while factory employment saw a 25 percent reduction.

With jobs in some parts of the retail industry dropping like a boulder, what are workers to do? If you work in a store and lose your job, is it prudent to look for a new job in a similar establishment? While you might be able to find one, you have to ask yourself how long you will be able to hold on to it.

Rather than hopping from job to job at one failing retailer after another, a more productive option is to transfer your skills to other occupations and industries that have more promising job outlooks and prospects. You will also want to utilize your strengths which, as a retail worker, are excellent interpersonal, listening, and verbal communication skills. Consider the following careers that also require those attributes, but require limited training. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies them as "Bright Outlook" occupations due to the large number of job openings the government agency predicts they will have over the next several years.

1. Bartender

Job Description: Bartenders take drink orders from customers. They mix cocktails, pour wine and beer, check customers' identification for proof they are of legal drinking age, process payments, and keep bar areas neat and clean.

Training Requirements: Most employers provide on-the-job training to bartenders, but some will only hire those who have completed a course at a bartending, vocational or technical school. Programs typically are just a few weeks long.

Job Outlook and Prospects: The BLS predicts employment will grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2024. Because there is a lot of turnover in this field, there will be many job openings.

Median Hourly Wages: $10 

2. Waiters and Waitresses

Job Description: Also called servers, waiters and waitresses take restaurant customers' food and beverage orders and deliver them to tables. They answer questions about the menu and may recommend particular dishes. Finally, they calculate bills and receive payments.

Training Requirements: Waiters and waitresses receive training from their employers. Some restaurants also provide classroom training where they teach proper serving techniques.

Job Outlook and Prospects: Employment is expected to grow more slowly than the average for all occupations through 2024. However, there will be plenty of job openings thanks to the number of people leaving this field.

Median Hourly Wages: $9.61 (combination of salary and tips)

3. Barista 

Job Description: Baristas work in specialty coffee shops. They prepare and serve coffee, other beverages, baked goods, and sandwiches.

Training Requirements: Employers provide on-the-job training to baristas.

Job Outlook and Prospects: The BLS predicts job growth that is about the fast as the average for all occupations through 2024. Many job openings should be available.

Median Hourly Wages: $9.60

4. Customer Service Representatives

Job Description: Customer service representatives take orders, resolve complaints, and answer questions from customers. Most of their interactions take place over the phone, by email, or through live internet chat.

Training Requirements: Most jobs require only short-term on-the-job training.

Job Outlook and Prospects: BLS forecasts indicate that employment will grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2024. Job prospects will be good.

Median Hourly Wages: $15.53

5. Counter and Rental Clerks

Job Description: Counter and rental clerks greet customers and receive orders for repairs, rentals, and services. Their responsibilities may include describing available options, estimating costs, and processing payments.

Training Requirements: New hires receive short-term on-the-job training.

Job Outlook and Prospects: Although this occupation is not expected to experience rapid job growth over the next several years, openings will be plentiful due to high turnover.

Median Hourly Wages: $12.29

6. Receptionists

Job Description: Receptionists greet visitors, schedule appointments, and direct telephone calls to the proper recipients.

Training Requirements: Employers provide on-the-job training to receptionists, but some will only hire candidates who have experience using word processing and spreadsheet applications.

Job Outlook and Prospects: Employment of receptionists will grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2024, according to BLS estimates. Job prospects will be good, especially in the healthcare industry. 

Median Hourly Wages: $13.42

7. Restaurant Host or Hostess

Job Description: In addition to greeting diners and escorting them to their tables, restaurant hosts and hostesses take reservations, and manage waiting lists.

Training Requirements: Hosts and hostesses receive on-the-job training for just a few weeks.

Job Outlook and Prospects: The BLS predicts employment will grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2024. Due to this growth and high turnover, there will be a significant number of jobs available for hosts and hostesses.

Median Hourly Wages: $9.60

8. Teller

Job Description: Bank tellers cash customers' checks, make deposits into their accounts, and collect loan payments.

Training Requirements: New tellers usually receive on-the-job training for about one month.

Job Outlook and Prospects: While employment will decline faster than the average for all occupations through 2024, the job market for this career will remain healthy due to vacancies left when workers move on to other jobs.

Median Hourly Wages: $13.11

9. Hotel, Motel, or Resort Desk Clerk

Job Description: Desk clerks at hotels, motels, and resorts greet guests, take reservations, assign rooms, issue keys, and process payments. They also respond to guests' complaints and work to resolve them.

Training Requirements: Hotel, motel, or resort desk clerks receive short-term on-the-job training.

Job Outlook and Prospects: Employment is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2024. Job prospects should be very good.

Median Hourly Wages: $10.61

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 (visited June 28, 2017).
Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET Online (visited June 28, 2017).