Retail Sales Associate

Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service

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    Preferred Education and Credentials

    • High school diploma or GED
    • Knowledge of HVAC/R products


    • Sales and merchandising
    • Communication
    • Customer service
    • Build strong relationships
    • Process payments
    • Organization
    • Physical abilities (extended standing, lift up to 50 pounds) 


    Retail sales associates sell products directly to consumers. 

    Workers in retail sales engage regularly with customers and must be able to communicate well. Having strong interpersonal and customer service skills, as well as knowledge of the products being sold, is necessary to understand customers’ needs, answer product questions, and help customers select the best products. Retail sales associates also tell customers about product promotions. Basic computer and accounting skills are needed to process transactions and customer payments, and workers with strong organizational skills help the store run efficiently.

    Retail sales associates stand for much of their shift, and those selling HVAC/R products may need the ability to lift up to 50 pounds to assist in retrieving products for customers and stocking shelves.

    Having an energetic, team-oriented attitude helps to build a strong customer base and support the sales goals of the business.

    Retail sales associates typically work indoors. Many positions are full-time and include evening, weekend, and holidays shifts. Some retail sales associates work part-time.

    Job Outlook

    According to the New York State Department of Labor, there are approximately 219,600 retail salespeople working across all industries in New York State. Opportunities for employment are expected to be unfavorable through 2028; they project a decrease of 28,600 jobs between 2018 and 2028.

    Entering the Field

    Retail sales associates typically do not need a formal education or prior experience to obtain an entry-level position; however, some employers prefer to hire workers with a high school diploma or GED and in the HVAC/R field, employers may give preference to applicants with existing knowledge of the products. Job duties are usually learned on-the-job in the first month of employment.


    In New York State, the median wage for retail sales associates is approximately $32,100. Entry-level workers earn about $27,400 and experienced workers earn about $42,100.

    Annual Wage (Q1 2021 dollars, rounded to 100s) – Statewide and by Labor Market Region

    New York State$27,400$32,100$42,100
    Capital Region$27,000$30,200$40,600
    Central New York$26,700$28,100$37,000
    Finger Lakes$26,800$28,200$36,400
    Hudson Valley$27,000$31,000$41,300
    Long Island$29,100$32,900$46,300
    Mohawk Valley$26,800$29,100$37,000
    New York City$31,200$34,700$44,300
    North Country$26,900$29,100$35,000
    Southern Tier$26,900$28,400$36,800
    Western New York$26,800$27,900$34,900

    Source: New York State Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics Survey, SOC Code 41-2031 (Retail Salespersons)


    Retail sales associates working in the HVAC/R field may be employed by plumbing and HVAC/R supply companies, other retailers that sell related equipment and materials, or manufacturers that also sell their products directly to consumers.

    The top three employers with the most online job advertisements in each region in 2020 are listed below.

    Capital Region

    • Carrier Enterprise
    • Holbrook Heating
    • Sears

    Central New York (All ads posted in 2020 were from a single employer.)

    • Blevins Incorporated

    Finger Lakes

    • VP Supply Corporation
    • Arctic Wholesale Refrigeration and Appliance
    • PBS Supply

    Hudson Valley

    • Trane Technologies
    • Carrier Enterprise
    • Sid Harvey Industries

    Long Island

    • Lennox International
    • ABCO HVACR Supply + Solutions
    • Carrier Enterprise

    Mohawk Valley (Employers did not post any job ads online in 2020.)

    New York City

    • Trane Technologies
    • ABCO HVACR Supply + Solutions
    • Wallington Plumbing and Heating Supply Co., Inc.

    North Country (Employers did not post any job ads online in 2020.)

    Southern Tier (Employers did not post any job ads online in 2020.)

    Western New York

    • VP Supply Corporation
    • Irr Supply Centers, Incorporated
    • Lennox International

    Source: Burning Glass Technologies: Labor Insight™. 2021.

    Labor Unions

    Workers in sales-related occupations have low rates of unionization. Retail workers who are members of a union may belong to the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) or the larger United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which RWDSU is part of. Check with local communities to see if these unions or others have active local chapters whose members work as retail sales associates in the HVAC/R field.

    Education and Training Programs

    Educational attainment beyond high school is typically not required to work as a retail sales associate and training is usually provided on the job. 

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