Sales Assistants (General)
Sales Assistants (General) sell goods and services, such as food, clothing, hardware, household appliances, office supplies and cosmetics, in retail and wholesale establishments.
Also known as: Retail Sales Assistant.
Specialisations: Clothing Sales Assistant, Cosmetic Sales Assistant, Fast Food Sales Assistant, Hardware Sales Assistant.
Formal qualifications are not usually required to work as a Sales Assistant (General). Some workers have a certificate II or III in retail.
determining customer requirements and advising on product range, price, delivery, warranties and product use and care
demonstrating and explaining to customers the establishment's goods and services
selling food, beverages, clothing, footwear and other personal and household goods and services
accepting payment for goods and services by a variety of payment methods and preparing sales invoices
assisting with the ongoing management of stock such as product inventories and participating in stocktakes
stacking and displaying goods for sale, and wrapping and packing goods sold
Vocational Education and Training (VET)
Informal or on-the-job
JSA produces employment projections to show where likely future job opportunities may be. The latest data are for the five years from November 2021 to November 2026. Over this period, the number of workers in this occupation is likely to remain stable.
Source: Jobs and Skills Australia Employment Projections to 2026.
Notes: The number employed includes people who work in this occupation as their main job. People who work in more than one job are counted against the occupation they work the most hours in.
Employment projections figures are rounded to the nearest 100. Calculations based on these rounded figures may result in differences to the numbers that are displayed on this page. Employment projections data (including occupations) can be downloaded from the Employment Projections page.
Number of Workers
Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, ABS seasonally adjusted data to November 2021 and Jobs and Skills Australia Employment Projections to 2026.
Earnings and hours
Around 28% of people employed as Sales Assistants (General) work full-time hours, in all their jobs combined. This is 38 percentage points below the all jobs average (66%).
Full-time workers work an average of 41 hours per week in their main job. This is similar to the all jobs average (44 hours per week).
Median full-time earnings are $1,055 per week, this is much lower than the all jobs median ($1,593):
- 3 in 4 workers earn more than $956
- 1 in 4 earn more than $1,212
Median hourly earnings are $26, this is lower than the all jobs median ($41 per hour).
Sources: Full-time share and full-time hours: ABS, 2016 Census, customised report. Compared to the all jobs average. Full-time median earnings and median hourly earnings: ABS, Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours, May 2021. Compared to all jobs median.
Weekly Earnings (Before Tax)
|Earnings||Sales Assistants (General)||All Jobs Average|
Source: Based on ABS Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours, May 2021, Customised Report. Median weekly total cash earnings for full-time non-managerial employees paid at the adult rate. Earnings are before tax and include amounts salary sacrificed. Earnings can vary greatly depending on the skills and experience of the worker and the demands of the role. These figures should be used as a guide only, not to determine a wage rate.
Most Sales Assistants (General) work in the Retail trade industry. They are also employed in industries like:
Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2021.
Employment across Australia
Employment by State and Territory (% Share)
|State||Sales Assistants (General)||All Jobs Average|
Around 41% of Sales Assistants (General) live outside of capital cities, compared with the all jobs average of 38%.
The regions with the largest share of workers are:
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Share of workers across Australian states, territories and regions, in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Age and gender
The median age of Sales Assistants (General) is 26 years. This is younger than the all jobs average of 40 years.
A large share of workers are aged 15 to 19 years.
Females make up 68% of the workforce. This is 20 percentage points above the all jobs average of 48%.
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile and gender share compared to the all jobs average.
Age Profile (% Share)
|Age Bracket||Sales Assistants (General)||All Jobs Average|
|65 and Over||2.9||4.2|
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile of workers in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Education, training and experience
Formal qualifications are not usually required to work as a Sales Assistant (General). Some workers have a certificate II or III in retail.
- My Skills to compare Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses, providers and student outcomes.
- AAPathways website to explore Retail Services VET training pathways.
Highest Level of Education (% Share)
|Type of Qualification||Sales Assistants (General)||All Jobs Average|
|Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate||2.3||10.1|
|Year 10 and below||22.3||12.5|
Source: ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Highest qualification completed by workers in this job (in any field of study). Qualifications needed by new workers might be different from the qualifications of workers already in the job.
Skills and Knowledge
Employers look for General Sale Assistants who interact well with others, provide good customer service and are reliable.
Skills can be improved through training or experience.
Talking people into changing their minds or their behaviour.
Looking for ways to help people.
Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.
Bringing people together and trying to sort out their differences.
Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem.
Talking to others.
Reading work related information.
Keeping track of how well work is progressing so you can make changes or improvements.
43%Coordination with others
Being adaptable and coordinating work with other people.
Understanding why people react the way they do.
Writing things for co-workers or customers.
Teaching people how to do something.
41%Judgment and decision making
Figuring out the pros and cons of different options and choosing the best one.
Managing your own and other peoples' time to get work done.
Being able to use what you have learnt to solve problems now and again in the future.
37%Complex problem solving
Noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it.
Figuring out the best way to teach or learn something new.
34%Management of personnel resources
Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, and choosing the best people for the job.
Using maths to solve problems.
Figuring out how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect it.
These are important topics, subjects or knowledge areas.
68%Customer and personal service
Understanding customer needs, providing good quality service, and measuring customer satisfaction.
58%Sales and marketing
Showing, promoting, and selling including marketing strategy, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.
English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics.
42%Administration and management
Business principles involved in strategic planning, leadership, and coordinating people and resources.
42%Computers and electronics
Circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Human behaviour; differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; research methods; assessing and treating disorders.
37%Communications and media
Media production, communication, and dissemination. Includes written, spoken, and visual media.
Word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office work.
32%Production and processing
Raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and ways of making and distributing goods.
32%Education and training
Curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
30%Personnel and human resources
Recruiting and training people, managing pay and other entitlements (like sick leave), and negotiating pay and conditions.
27%Public safety and security
Use of equipment, rules and ideas to protect people, data, property, and institutions.
Moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road.
24%Economics and accounting
Economics and accounting, the financial markets, banking and checking and reporting of financial data.
Machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
Design techniques, tools, and principles used to make detailed technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
19%Law and government
How our laws and courts work. Government rules and regulations, and the political system.
19%Engineering and technology
Use engineering, science and technology to design and produce goods and services.
Workers use these physical and mental abilities..
Listen to and understand what people say.
Communicate by speaking.
Identify and understand the speech of another person.
Speak clearly so others can understand you.
Read and understand written information.
Notice when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong, even if you can't solve the problem.
Come up with different ways of grouping things.
See details that are up-close (within a few feet).
Use general rules to find answers or solve problems logically.
Use lots of detailed information to come up with answers or make general rules.
Write in a way that people can understand.
Come up with a number of ideas about a topic, even if the ideas aren't very good.
41%Sorting or ordering
Order or arrange things in a pattern or sequence (e.g., numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
Come up with unusual or clever ideas, or creative ways to solve a problem.
Pay attention to something without being distracted.
Put together small parts with your fingers.
Do two or more things at the same time.
36%Working with numbers
Add, subtract, multiply, or divide.
Choose the right maths method or formula to solve a problem.
Remember things like words, numbers, pictures, and procedures.
These are kinds of activities workers regularly do in this job.
72%Working with the public
Greeting or serving customers, clients or guests, and public speaking or performing.
Convincing people to buy something or to change their minds or actions.
65%Building good relationships
Building good working relationships and keeping them over time.
55%Handling and moving objects
Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, moving and manipulating objects.
55%Communicating within a team
Giving information to co-workers by telephone, in writing, or in person.
54%Communicating with the public
Giving information to the public, business or government by telephone, in writing, or in person.
53%Planning and prioritising work
Deciding on goals and putting together a detailed plan to get the work done.
Using your own ideas for developing, designing, or creating something new.
51%Keeping your knowledge up-to-date
Keeping up-to-date with technology and new ideas.
49%Making decisions and solving problems
Using information to work out the best solution and solve problems.
49%Researching and investigating
Looking for, getting and understanding different kinds of information.
48%Negotiating and resolving conflicts
Handling complaints and disagreements, and negotiating with people.
47%Looking for changes over time
Comparing objects, actions, or events. Looking for differences between them or changes over time.
45%Assessing and evaluating things
Working out the value, importance, or quality of things, services or people.
43%Collecting and organising information
Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or checking information or data.
43%Training and teaching others
Understanding the needs of others, developing training programs, and teaching or instructing.
42%Working with computers
Using computers to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
41%Monitoring people, processes and things
Checking objects, actions, or events, and keeping an eye out for problems.
36%Checking for errors or defects
Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials for errors, problems or defects.
32%Explaining things to people
Helping people to understand and use information.
Interests and demands
Learn about the daily activities, and physical and social demands faced by workers. Explore the values and work styles that workers rate as most important.
Interests are the style or type of work we prefer to do. All interest areas are shown below.
Starting up and carrying out projects. Leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes require risk taking and often deal with business.
Following set procedures and routines. Working with numbers and details more than with ideas, usually following rules.
Working with people. Helping or providing service to others.
Practical, hands-on work. Often with plants and animals, or materials like wood, tools, and machinery.
Working with forms, designs and patterns. Often need self-expression and can be done without following rules.
Ideas and thinking. Searching for facts and figuring out problems in your head.
Serve and work with others. Workers usually get along well with each other, do things to help other people, and are rarely pressured to do things that go against their sense of right and wrong.
Supportive management that stands behind employees. Workers are treated fairly by their company, they are supported by management, and have supervisors who train them well.
Results oriented. Workers are able to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.
Work alone and make decisions. Workers are able to try out their own ideas, make decisions on their own, and work with little or no supervision.
Advancement and the potential to lead. Workers are recognised for the work that they do, they may give directions and instructions to others, and they are looked up to in their company and their community.
Job security and good working conditions. There is usually a steady flow of interesting work, and the pay and conditions are generally good.
Talk on the telephone.
98%Contact with people
Have contact with people by telephone, face-to-face, or any other way.
97%Contact with the public
Work with customers or the public.
Talk with people face-to-face.
Work with people in a group or team.
84%Physically close to people
Work physically close to other people.
82%Being exact or accurate
Be very exact or highly accurate.
82%Freedom to make decisions
Have freedom to make decision on your own.
82%Spend time standing
Spend time standing at work.
81%Indoors, heat controlled
Work indoors with access to heating or cooling.
Have freedom to decide on tasks, priorities, and goals.
78%Frequent decision making
Frequently make decisions that impact other people.
76%Impact of decisions
Make decisions that have a large impact on other people.
73%Walking and running
Spend time walking and running.
73%Letters and memos
Write letters and memos.
Compete with others, or be aware of competitive pressures.
71%Angry or unpleasant people
Deal with unpleasant, angry, or rude people.
Work to strict deadlines.
66%Lead or coordinate a team
Lead others to do work activities.
63%Repeating same tasks
Repeat the same tasks or activities (e.g., key entry) over and over, without stopping.
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
The skills and importance ratings on this page are derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2, 41-2031.00 - Retail Salespersons.
Links and downloads
Research and reports
The Skills Priority List provides a current labour market rating and a future demand rating for nearly 800 occupations nationally. Current labour market ratings are available for occupations at a state and territory level.
Occupation profiles data are available for download.
The Employment Projections are available for download.