Shop Assistant

Shop assistants are the link between the store's products and the customer. It is important that assistants promote a positive image of the shop as assistants' actions project the store's image and determine the impression that customers form of the store and whether they will visit the store again.

Shop assistants usually sell merchandise in all types of retail stores.

Their work depends on the type of store. Shop assistants need to be knowledgeable about the products they are selling, for example, a shop assistant working in an electrical appliances store needs to know how these appliances work.

Shop assistants show products to customers and help them to select the products which suit their needs. Assistants receive payments and give change for purchases. The work also entails filling out sales slips, the wrapping of purchases and making the arrangements for pick-up or home delivery.

When assistants are not busy serving customers, they need to check stock and note items that are running low or for which supplies are needed. Other duties include answering telephone calls, handling inquiries and monitoring the store security to prevent shoplifting.

Personal Requirements

  • alert and even-tempered
  • enjoy working with the public
  • tactful and patient
  • get along well with others
  • persuasive and friendlygood health and stamina
  • neat, well-groomed appearance
  • good taste and insight into the tastes of customers

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

No specific high school requirements are necessary to enter this career but a National Senior Certificate is recommended.

What to Study

Most shop assistants learn their skills on the job. Large stores may provide training programmes which last for several days, followed by on-the-job training under an experienced worker. This enables the shop assistant to know what the job entails, in order to commence work with confidence.


  • large or small retail shops
  • wholesale establishments

Further Information

Any retail shop or wholesaler

Getting Started

  • volunteer to help out at church and community functions, such as jumble sales
  • try to get vacation work as a shop assistant
  • speak to shop assistants about this type of career and ask to observe them at work

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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