What You Need to Know
- There are no real academic requirements for working in a supermarket; at any big supermarket, many of the staff will have left school with few qualifications.
- That said, employers will look for evidence of some numeracy and literacy ability, particularly in the shape of good GCSEs in English and Maths.
- If you want to move straight into a well-paid position, a number of universities across the UK offer specialist retail management degrees
- Other degrees that could help boost your career prospects in the supermarket industry include logistics, business, economics and maths.
- Pay rates for supermarket workers vary significantly, depending above all on levels of responsibility and experience.
- At the bottom end of the ladder, shop floor staff tend to earn the National Minimum Wage or slightly more.
- Meanwhile, managers of large stores can earn between £40,000 and £80,000 a year with bonuses of up to 50% of their salary also on offer.
Qualifications and Skills
There are no fixed academic requirements for landing a job in a supermarket. In fact, at any big supermarket, a significant proportion of the staff will have left school with few – or even no – qualifications, while many workers will be combining the job with their school or college studies.
That said, all employers will look for evidence of some numeracy and literacy ability and so will look favourably on your application if you have at least good GCSEs in English and Maths. Such skills, after all, may come in useful if you want to work on a checkout or even stack shelves.
At the same time, while many supermarkets are managed by people who rose up through the ranks after starting off as trolley boys or checkout girls, increasingly, the biggest retailers such as Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Asda are keen to recruit graduates or experienced professionals to fill their top jobs. Earning a degree in a relevant area may, therefore, boost your chances of moving straight into management rather than having to work your way up through the ranks.
A number of universities across the UK offer specialist retail management degrees, among them the University of Brighton, Bournemouth University and Birmingham City University, with the programmes requiring between three and four years to complete, including a year’s professional experience. Meanwhile, the University of Hull, in partnership with Morrisons, offers a part-time degree course in Supermarket Operations (http://www2.hull.ac.uk/hubs/news-events/news/supermarket-foundation-degree.aspx).
Other degrees that could help boost your career prospects in the supermarket industry include logistics, business, economics and maths.
Major supermarkets are always keen to invest in their own staff, so if you’re determined, ambitious and hard-working, you should be able to enjoy career progression prospects within the industry.
For instance, if you stand out as a checkout operator, you can move up into a supervisory role within just a few months, with most major employers also offering shop-floor staff routes into other parts of the business, including buying, logistics, HR, marketing and finance. For instance, the John Lewis Partnership – which owns Waitrose – offers its workers a fixed career progression path, giving you the chance to move from shop floor level to management in the space of just two or three years.
Pay and Benefits
Pay rates for supermarket workers vary significantly, depending above all on levels of responsibility and experience. At the bottom end of the ladder, shop floor staff tend to earn the National Minimum Wage or slightly more. On top of this, higher hourly rates of pay are available for unsociable hours, for example for overnight shifts, while checkout supervisors can earn up to £10 per hour.
At the other end of the scale, managers of large supermarkets can earn between £40,000 and £80,000 per year with bonuses of up to 50% of their salary on offer if their stores perform well over the course of the financial year.
Aside from the pay, supermarket workers are able to enjoy a wide range of benefits, particularly those employed by the biggest names in the industry. Above all, for instance, you will be able to enjoy:
- High levels of flexibility: most supermarkets are open from early morning to late at night, or even 24 hours a day. This means shifts are available outside of the normal 9-5 working day. Indeed, many supermarket workers combine their jobs with studies, family commitments or other work, with most employers happy to accommodate their needs.
- Strong career progression possibilities: Again, all the major supermarket chains work hard to train and develop their staff. Moreover, even if you move onto pastures new, having such a big name on your CV will always impress future employers.
- Employee discounts: As well as standard levels of pay, supermarkets also offer good discounts for their staff and their families. Furthermore, some chains also offer staff at all levels bonuses based on the performance of individual stores.
- A lively, enjoyable working environment; working in a supermarket can be great fun, particularly given that you are able to work alongside a wide range of people, from school-leavers to ‘un-retirees’, while also being able to interact with the public on a daily basis.
As a rule, the leading supermarkets recruit new staff on a store-by-store basis. As such, if it’s a shop-floor job you’re after, then you’ll need to apply to a specific store. The easiest way of doing this is simply going into the supermarket and asking for an application form. Once you’ve filled this in and handed it back, management or a HR representative should get in touch if they want to take your application further. Alternatively, visit the websites of the main supermarket chains. Here you will be able to find links to new vacancies and apply online. Sainsburys, (http://sainsburys.jobs/) Tesco(http://www.tesco-careers.com/jobsearch.cfm), Asda (http://www.asda.jobs/) and Morrissons (http://www.morrisons-corporate.com/Jobs/) all have specialist job sites, all of which are updated on a weekly, or even daily basis.
Supermarkets’ own websites are also the best place to learn more about graduate schemes and to find and apply for management-level positions.
Learn more about your employee rights while working in a supermarket with the help of this quick guide: http://www.uknetguide.co.uk/Employment/Article/Employee_rights_health_and_safety-105883.html