What is this career about?
This job is about helping customers make their homes look exactly the way that they envision them looking, if not better. Employees should have a good eye for design, should be able to keep up with trends, and they should be able to communicate these things with potential customers. This career is mainly a sales job, but it does consist of a good deal of artistic expression, as well, and those that are more creative tend to find that they excel in this type of employment. People need furniture, but they also want the accoutrements that go along with this in order to make their living place truly their home.
What growth is likely?
Over the next several years, experts believe that this industry will grow by about 7 or 8 percent, as a whole. This includes both the design side of things as well as retail, and everything in between. There are currently about 300,000 employees in this trade, with over 26,000 businesses that are geared toward this located in the United States. Both of these numbers are expected to go up in the future, especially as the population ages and the rate of individuals moving with frequency begins to go down.
There are many different sides to this career. Stock persons, those responsible for making sure that product is out on shelves and where they belong, can expect to make about $10.50 per hour. Drivers can expect to see a median wage of around $11 or $12. Sales associates should expect the same as drivers, but they may have commissions added onto their base pay. Managers should expect about $44,000 a year, but this number is really dependent upon experience and the store or company’s performance. As the industry expands, those that have established roles already should expect to see their pay go up over time, especially if demand for their services goes up, too.
It is important to note that many companies do the majority of their business in the last couple months of the year. Black Friday—the day after Thanksgiving—earned its name because many companies, especially in an industry like this, are operating at a loss until they kick off the holiday season. This is when companies see the most growth, and right before this time is when they are most likely to expand their employee base. Applying for a position in October or at the beginning of November is the best way to increase your chances of getting a position in this field with ease.
How to succeed?
The first step toward success in this field is to come up with a successful application. Give yourself a lot of time to fill this out, maybe an hour or more. This will ensure that you are being thorough and accurate. It also gives you some time to think and showcase your talents. Managers want employees that not only know a lot about this industry already, but are sincerely interested in knowing more. Many places in this industry are smaller, and therefore are more likely to accept paper applications. Check online for an application first so you can avoid bothering people if you can, but be prepared to show up in person to get an application. This means that you are creating a first impression before you even apply, so dress nicely and be kind and courteous when you stop in to get an application.
The next phase is the interview. You should be prepared for many questions, both about yourself and the industry as a whole. You should also spend some time preparing questions of your own as this is common at the end of an interview. Doing this shows that you are genuinely curious about the job and have already put thought into it and your place in the industry. It will help the hiring manager to get a better feel for who you are and what you are capable of. If your desired position requires a portfolio, be sure that this is accessible at the interview.
Once you secure a job, there are many ingredients that will go into having a successful career. The first is being a hard worker with a true drive for learning more. This will help your boss to see that you take your career seriously, and it will help lay the foundation for advancement. It also shows that you could be a candidate for management in the future, especially if you have good organizational skills and are adept at getting along with others and motivating them to succeed.
Who should apply?
Most employers in this industry prefer applicants to be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or a GED. If you are applying for a management position, or aspire to this position in the future, having a college degree is often required by employers, but this is not a universal rule. Interior design is the preferred degree if the position does require a collegiate background.
The people that will enjoy this most, and the people most highly encouraged to apply for a career in this path are those that love design, but also have a knack for working well with other people. As with any retail position, having great people skills is a must and can take you very far, even if you don’t know a ton about furniture, design, or decorating when you begin this career. Even though it is a furnishings and design oriented job, the customer service side of things is what separates good employees from great employees, and hiring managers know that great personalities are much harder to cultivate than knowledge about the basics of design.