Top 15 Best Paying Jobs in Clothing, Shoe, and Accessory Stores (Updated 2024)

Clothing, Shoe, and Accessory

There is a sizable market for clothing, shoes, and accessories. All of these things are necessities for humans, hence demand is steadily rising.

Believe it or not, it’s easier to build a high paying career in the clothing, shoe, and accessory retail world than most people realize.

We are, after all, talking about an industry that is doing almost $2 billion in sales (and projected to break that number next year or the year after) worldwide.

When a lot of people think of these kinds of jobs they think of your standard retail set up, a relatively small shop with relatively small margins. And while those kinds of jobs definitely exist, there are also some career opportunities in the higher-end and premium clothing, shoe, and accessory world – particularly commissioned opportunities – that can really skyrocket your earning potential.

Let’s dive right in!

What is a Job in the Clothing, Shoe, and Accessory Retail World?

There is a lot more to the clothing, shoe, and accessory retail world than just a shop manager and some cashiers.

For starters, someone has to source and buy the fashions that are going to fill these retail outlets. Then you have to have people that can coordinate and manage all of this inventory, price and market it properly, and then of course you have to have the people that actually sell this merchandise, too.

If you’ve been looking for a unique career field with all kinds of opportunities to grow (and to make mountains of money), the clothing, shoe, and accessory retail world deserves a closer look.

Are Jobs in the Clothing, Shoe, and Accessory Retail Industry a Good Career Path?

You bet it is!

There aren’t a lot of other career fields out there that allow you to get in on the ground floor – literally at any local retail outlet – with no real special skills, no real formal education, and no real training – that still have lots of opportunity for high five figure and even middle six-figure incomes almost right away (or just a few years later).

On top of that, since human beings are always going to need clothes – and because premium and high-end fashion, footwear, and accessories always command top dollar – there’s going to be a demand for these products and a need for folks to fulfill these jobs.

This is about as future proof a career as you can get!

Top 15 Best Paying Jobs in Clothing, Shoe, and Accessory Stores

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1. Retail Cashier

Retail cashiers are probably the lowest rung on the clothing, shoe, and accessory store ladder – but that doesn’t mean that they are terrible jobs, low-paying jobs, or difficult to succeed in positions.

Responsibilities as a retail cashier are pretty much cemented up around the cash register itself. But employees that really want to distinguish themselves (employees with legitimate career aspirations away from “the box”) are going to have great customer service skills, great organization skills, and an ability to problem solve on-the-fly.

The average annual salary for a retail cashier in the US right now sits at between $30,000 and $35,000 a year. That’s not too shabby.

2. Commissioned Salesperson

Commissioned sales associates are usually found in your higher end shops, the kinds of sales associates that “float” throughout their department and not only assist customers looking for something specific but also help to point them in the direction of merchandise they might like as well.

Great sales associates have a unique ability to communicate clearly, to be open and friendly, but also to persuade and sell without appearing to be persuading or selling at the same time.

Formal education can help land these kinds of positions (degrees and marketing, for example, always help), but any salesperson – as well has anyone with no sales experience but interest in this position – can start making serious money straight out of the gate.

It’s not at all unusual for commissioned salespeople in the clothing, shoe, and accessory world to make $63,000 a year (on average). Working at high-end stores and really hustling can unlock a six figure salary faster than you would have thought possible

3. Jewelry Sales Associate

Of course, if you really want to pull down high numbers as a commissioned salesperson it’s not a bad idea to get yourself positioned in the jewelry area.

These beautiful little pieces almost always have higher margins, higher price tags, and a lot less resistance from customers for the actual sales process.

Not every shop has a jewelry sales associate position, though. Sometimes this kind of position gets tacked onto department stores, though specialty shops – high-end retail or even high-end jewelry boutiques – aren’t a bad place to go job hunting, either.

Commissioned jewelry sales associates have a base pay that usually starts somewhere around $35,000-$40,000. Commissions can bump that number significantly higher, though.

4. Footwear Sales

Footwear sales is quickly becoming one of the hottest career opportunities in the clothing, shoes, and accessory retail world – and for good reason!

The footwear industry in the United States alone sold $13.6 billion worth of merchandise in 2021, and that figure is projected to hit $18 billion (at least) by the time 2025 rolls around.

And we’re not just talking about the luxury or high-end footwear world, either.

Shoes are quickly becoming one of the most important status symbols in the US (and around the rest of the world). They are a cornerstone element for a great outfit and a key part of any wardrobe.

It should come as no surprise, then, that footwear sales associates make about the same base pay as jewelry sales associates ($35,000-$40,000 a year) with commission opportunities in some positions.

5. Merchandise Coordinator

Merchandise coordinators aren’t exactly entry-level positions most of the time, but they are a huge piece of the success puzzle when it comes to the clothing, shoe, and accessory retail industry.

These coordinators are supposed to monitor inventory levels, not just from a logistics standpoint but also from a marketing and sales standpoint. These coordinators move merchandise around, make sure that prices are locked in correctly, and adjust merchandise that goes on sale – and for how much – to make room for new inventory.

In the US, a merchandise coordinator can expect to make about $75,000 a year. They may not need a ton of schooling, but some background in business administration and marketing is always a bonus.

6. Inventory Manager

An inventory manager works in close contact and concert with a merchandise coordinator, but they both have different roles and responsibilities.

Whereas the merchandise coordinator does a lot of work in the “front of house” – the area that the customer interacts in – the inventory manager almost exclusively works in the “back of the house”.

This isn’t exactly a warehouse position, though (even if their offices are usually located in close proximity to the warehousing area).

Inventory managers track inventory levels, make sure that digital inventory records match with physical inventory records, and usually have a lot to do with loss prevention as well.

These kinds of positions usually go to folks with a Bachelors or an Associates degree in this specific area, though some shops train up their own inventory managers “in-house”.

The average salary for this position is about $76,000 a year.

7. Shoe Repairer

Not all of your big brand clothing, shoe, and accessory outlets are going to have an in-house shoe repair specialist, but some of your boutique outlets will – and this job can mean big money for folks that like something a little more “hands-on” in this industry.

These kinds of specialists almost always undergo very specific training to take advantage of the tools and materials needed to make repairs for specific brands of footwear.

A shoe repair specialist can expect to make between $21,000 a year and $41,000 a year at the entry-level in the US today.

8. Shoe Designer

Shoe designer careers may not be in the works for absolutely everyone, but folks that are particularly artistic, particularly creative, and have a real passion for designing functional fashion and footwear pieces might want to look into this career path.

Almost all shoe designers go to school for this kind of work. There are a number of amazing art programs across the country that cater to fashion design and shoe designed specifically, including one at Syracuse University.

Shoe designer salaries can be all over the place, though. Working at a smaller shop might mean you take home about $50,000 a year (entry-level), but landing a gig at a company like Nike or Adidas could mean $80,000 your first year and six figures (maybe more) pretty early in your career.

9. Boot Maker

Boot makers have a bit of a different job than shoe designers, as these are the folks that actually get their hands on the raw materials and assemble boots, shoes, and other pieces of footwear from scratch designs.

Custom boot makers can pretty much set their own price tag, especially if they own their own operation or partner with local clothing shops and boutiques.

Because this work is so specialized and because the customer base is often very affluent it’s not at all uncommon for boot makers to make $80,000 or more each year.

10. Clothier

Clothiers are so much more than just a sales associate or a commissioned salesperson, but really closer to a full-blown concierge for customers that come into a clothing, shoe, and accessory shop.

These kinds of professionals will work hand-in-hand with customers to find pieces that suit them best, but will then take things to the next level – doing alteration work (and sometimes even complete customizations) – to really make these pieces individual.

Clothiers are sort of disappearing from the retail world right now, but high-end shops and boutiques that want to have these services available to their clientele pay well. These jobs often command $60,000, $70,000, or more each year.

11. Clothing Designer

The clothing design industry is about as competitive as they get.

Everyone in fashion school wants to become a clothing designer, which means there’s a ton of demand for these positions – but it also means that there’s a ton of competition. Those that are able to separate themselves from the rest of the pack with their artistic vision and creativity can pretty much write their own check, though.

The average annual salary for a clothing designer in the US today sits at $75,000. The potential to earn significantly more than that (we are talking middle to high six figures and then some) definitely exists, though.

12. Buyer

Buyers are sent out by the parent company to connect with designers and manufacturers to find the right lines to stock in their store each season.

This job is not one for the faint of heart.

Buyers are basically the taste maker for each individual shop and each individual brand. They set the tone, they decide what each store is going to stock, and they decide which products are going to be offered to their customers and clientele each season.

There’s a lot riding on the decisions that they make (obviously).

While there are some courses and some educational programs that can help train buyers, the best in the business develop their own specific instinct and have a unique eye. They also have the ability to perfectly match a brand with product lines that really resonate with their ideal customers.

Buyers almost always make low six figures ($100,000 a year and up) but have the potential to make significantly more, too.

13. Alterations Tailer

If a shop does not have a full-blown clothier they usually have an in-house alterations tailer or a partnership with an outside alterations tailer that offers these kinds of services to their customers.

Sometimes you’ll hear alterations tailers described as alterations specialists, but the job and the responsibilities are the same. These experts are going to be able to adjust “off the rack” clothing to fit you perfectly (all without a skyhigh price tag attached).

The average annual salary for alterations tailer positions in the US right now sits at about $45,000 or so. Training with a master tailer is almost always mandatory.

14. Security

Security is critical in the retail world today for a variety of different reasons, but especially when you are dealing with in demand, high-value, and high-margin merchandise like clothing, footwear, and accessories.

Security specialists run the gamut from “plainclothes” secret shoppers that walk around the store on shifts to uniformed security specialists – and perhaps even armed security specialists – and everything in between.

Your average unarmed security guard in the United States makes between $28,000 and $43,000 a year. Armed security makes a little more than that ($35,000 a year to $60-$70,000 a year), depending on the specifics of the job and their responsibilities.

15. General Manager

The general manager of every clothing, shoe, and accessory shop is a little like the general in the military.

They are responsible for absolutely everything that happens in the store, oversee every single employee in the shop, and have to have an incredible attention to detail to do their job successfully.

Great general managers are exceptional communicators. They understand how to get the best out of their team, how to keep everyone motivated and disciplined, and how to improve performance day after day, week after week, month after month.

On top of that, general managers need to be able to jump in and take over any position that is vacated for any reason. If someone calls in sick, quits early, or just isn’t available at that particular point in time the general manager should be able to fill that position perfectly.

They also have to handle scheduling, technology, logistics, and so much more!

Because of all these responsibilities the general manager is usually a pretty well-paid position. Average salaries in the clothing, shoe, and accessory world started around $65,000-$70,000 a year.


Do You Need Special Schooling to Get a Job in Clothing, Shoes, and Accessory Retail?

In most situations you do not need any special schooling or any special training to get a job in the clothing, shoes, and accessory shop world.

Obviously, some jobs are going to require a little bit of schooling – especially those that have to do with the business side of things, management, and logistics.

On top of that, some of the special skills needed to succeed in the clothing, shoes, and accessory world (particularly tailoring skills, creation and customization skills, etc.) usually need to be trained up by those that have these skills already.

At the end of the day, though, almost anyone serious about a career in this industry can walk right into any shop and get an entry-level position and then carve out their career from there.

What Skills Are Needed to Succeed in This Career?

While each job in the clothing, shoes, and accessory world has their own specific “needs”, some skills will help set you apart from the rest of the pack no matter what your position is.

Clear communication skills are essential no matter what. Hard work and a strong work ethic are critical. Sales will elevate you in every position that you take on. The ability to handle adversity and sometimes unpleasant customer interactions with grace will give you a huge advantage.

Is There a Lot of Room to Grow a Career in This Industry?

Yes, there’s always a lot of room for career growth in this industry.

It isn’t at all uncommon for individuals to start at the lowest possible wrung in a retail shop (as a cashier, for example) and then – just a few years later – find themselves running the place or working in the corporate environment.

Josh Hutcheson

E-Learning Specialist in Online Programs & Courses Linkedin

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