How to Become a Retail Category Manager

Retail Category Manager Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $113,350
Avg. Pay / hour $54.50
Education 3-4 Years
Job Outlook 2%

When a consumer enters a store and knows the exact spot to find their favorite item, they may not realize that the product’s location was probably chosen by a Retail Category Manager.

Retail Category Managers are responsible for increasing sales and customer satisfaction by determining what types of products consumers want, where the products should be located in the store and whether this locale will sell the most product; additionally, they will determine how the products will be organized within the shelves or other compartments.

Retail Category Manager positions are considered a type of Marketing because of the strategies they use to gain consumer interest within retail stores.

Gaining consumer interest is the first step to selling one more item within the store, which is ultimately a Retail Category Manager’s goal?to move and sell inventory.

Retail Category Managers work in the retail and product supply niche.

They are experienced in using “Category Management,” a technique used to handle retail procedures and operations.

This career is a relatively new profession and is employed in a wide range of retail locales.

Some typical retail locations these professionals may work for include supermarkets, discount stores and department stores.

If some of your strong suits include business, organization and marketing, continue reading below to learn how to become a Retail Category Manager .

You will also find information regarding education requirements, a general job description, a general job description and salary and wage information.

Education Requirements to Become a Retail Category Manager

Students who want to become a Retail Category Manager need a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in order to qualify for jobs.

Some employers may also hire candidates who have an Associate’s degree or related experience.

However, competitive candidates will typically have an advanced degree, an established career or are highly creative individuals.

The type of degree a student needs to pursue in order to become a Retail Category Manager is one that focuses in business or marketing.

A student should major in Business Administration, Marketing or Advertising in order to become a competitive candidate.

The majority of employers now seek candidates who have an advanced degree in Business or Marketing.

Candidates should consider attending an advanced degree program that specializes in business.

Pursuing an M.B.A.

takes an average of two more years to complete but will create plenty of more opportunities for candidates.

Retail Category Manager Job Description

A Retail Category Manager’s goal is to take the area of a store and supply it with products in a manner that sells the most products and moves the most product inventory.

Another goal is to provide customer satisfaction by making it easier for customers to find the items they are looking for.

This work is considered a type of marketing because of the special techniques it uses to gain customer interest that will eventually create more sales.

A Retail Category Manager also determines the right product mix for the store.

That is, they will determine the type of individual products and the specific numbers that will meet consumer demand.

The whole goal behind product mix is to sell the largest amount of products by identifying products that consumers want.

A Retail Category Manger will also perform other duties such as compiling ad summary reports and managing in store promotions.

Retail Category Manager Salary and Career Path

Exact figures for this profession have not been gathered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics because of its relatively new existence.

However, this type of job is closely associated with marketing and business and information regarding these professions is provided by the bureau.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2010, Marketing Managers had an annual median income of approximately $112,000.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that professionals providing Marketing, Advertising and Promotional services should expect to see an average job growth rate.

The projected growth for these professions is estimated to be 13 percent through the year 2018.

However, even with this projected growth, candidates should expect a competitive job market especially for high paying and lucrative positions.

Candidates with an advanced degree, established careers, years of experience and creativity should have the best prospects.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$156,010
New Hampshire$119,480
New Jersey$164,670
New Mexico$107,260
New York$144,830
North Carolina$117,130
North Dakota$97,470
Rhode Island$135,160
South Carolina$94,700
South Dakota$129,370
West Virginia$86,500
Puerto Rico$77,840
Virgin Islands$88,600

The top earning state in the field is New Jersey, where the average salary is $164,670.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

New Jersey - $164,670
District of Columbia - $156,010
Delaware - $148,920
New York - $144,830
Massachusetts - $141,840
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for General and Operations Managers, OCC Code 11-1021, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a retail category manager do?

A retail category manager is an expert that works in-store and is responsible for the pricing, management, visual merchandising, and the sales of a certain group of products.

The main aim of retail category managers is to make their group of products highly visible, appealing and accessible to the customers.

The typical duties of a retail category manager usually include product selection, vendor management, pricing, displaying, product mix, planning, marketing, inventory control, and so on.

Retail category managers also set competitive price points and help clear out stagnant products from the inventory.

Financial analysis plays a very important role in the job of these specialists.

How much do retail category managers make?

On average, a retail category manager can make a little less than $84.000 per year in the United States.

In case you decide to choose this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $55.000 and $117.000 annually.

The salary would certainly depend on a variety of factors – your education and experience level, the employer, the location, and so on.

The professionals that work in Texas, Illinois, and Minnesota, for example, have the highest average salaries.

An entry-level retail category manager can earn around $63.000 per year; a top-level specialist with plenty of experience can make $93.000 and more per year.

How much does it cost to become a retail category manager?

You would need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in business, management, retailing or sales, in order to become a retail category manager.

To improve job prospects, you can consider getting a master’s degree or taking some postgraduate courses.

A year in a university can cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $30.000 (and more); the cost depends on a variety of factors (bear in mind that the books, supplies, and accommodation expenses are not included).

A master’s degree will cost you over $30.000, in most of the cases.

You can also choose to obtain certification through the Category Management Association (the one-time registration fee is $95).

What is the demand for retail category managers?

Between 2016 and 2026, the retail category manager market is expected to grow by 2%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That’s a lot slower than the average for all occupations in the United States.

The industry is going to shrink due to the increase in online shopping and the decrease in the number of actual stores.

The candidates that possess a master’s degree will have better chances of getting the highest-paid job.

How long does it take to become a retail category manager?

It will take you 4 years to obtain a bachelor’s degree and 1-2 years to get a master’s degree.

You can consider seeking an internship during your last year in university to get that on-job experience as the majority of employers prefer the candidates to have experience in management or a strong background in merchandising.

You would need to pass an exam to obtain certification through the CMA.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *