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Top 11 Retail Sales Associate Certifications

This article will provide an overview of the top retail sales associate certifications available today and how they can benefit your career.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 18 min read

Certifications can be a great asset for retail sales associates in the job market. They demonstrate to employers that the individual has a certain level of knowledge and expertise in their field. Certifications also demonstrate dedication, as they are typically earned through additional study and practice outside of traditional education or training. This can help set an individual apart from the competition when applying for jobs, as employers know they have gone above and beyond to gain the necessary skills and qualifications to be successful in the role. Additionally, having certifications can open up new opportunities within the field, such as higher-level positions or additional areas of specialization.

This article reviews some of the top certifications for Retail Sales Associates and explains how they can contribute to the growth and development of a retail sales associate's career.

What are Retail Sales Associate Certifications?

Retail Sales Associate Certification is a certification program designed to help retail sales associates develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the retail industry. The program covers topics such as customer service, product knowledge, merchandising, and sales techniques. By completing the coursework, participants will gain an understanding of how to effectively interact with customers, identify customer needs and provide solutions that meet those needs. They will also learn how to maximize sales opportunities by creating effective displays and promotions. The certification provides employers with assurance that their employees have the necessary skills to effectively manage their retail environment.

The certification can help retailers increase profitability by improving customer service levels and increasing sales. Additionally, certified retail sales associates are more likely to be promoted within their organization due to their increased knowledge base. It can also give candidates an edge when applying for jobs in the retail industry as employers look for candidates with specific training and qualifications. Finally, it can help employees stay up-to-date on industry trends and best practices so they can better serve their customers and employers.

Pro Tip: Consider obtaining a retail sales associate certification to gain valuable knowledge and skills in customer service, product knowledge, sales techniques, and more. This will help you stand out from other job applicants and be a valuable asset to your employer.

Related: What does a Retail Sales Associate do?

Top 11 Retail Sales Associate Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Retail Sales Associates today.

1. Certified Retail Sales Professional (CRSP)

Certified Retail Sales Professional (CRSP) is a certification program designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated knowledge and proficiency in retail sales. The CRSP credential is offered by the National Retail Federation (NRF), the world’s largest retail trade association.

The CRSP program consists of three components: an online training course, an exam, and a portfolio review. The online training course covers topics such as customer service, product knowledge, merchandising, sales techniques, and store operations. The exam tests your understanding of the material covered in the course and is administered at the NRF’s headquarters in Washington D.C. Lastly, you must submit a portfolio that demonstrates your experience in retail sales to be eligible for certification.

It typically takes around 6-8 weeks to complete the CRSP program from start to finish. To get started on your path towards becoming certified, you will need to register with the NRF and pay a fee of $350 USD. This fee covers all materials associated with the program including access to the online training course, exam fees, and portfolio review fees.

2. Certified Professional in Retail Management (CPRM)

Certified Professional in Retail Management (CPRM) is a professional certification program designed to recognize individuals who have achieved a high level of expertise in retail management. This certification is offered through the National Retail Federation (NRF) and is designed to help retail professionals demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and abilities in various areas of retail management.

The CPRM certification requires applicants to complete an online application and pass an exam that covers topics such as customer service, store operations, merchandising, marketing, financial management, human resources, and technology. The exam consists of 180 multiple-choice questions and takes approximately three hours to complete.

In order to become certified, applicants must have at least two years of full-time experience in a retail setting or four years of part-time experience in a retail setting. Applicants must also submit two letters of recommendation from current or former supervisors or colleagues.

The cost for the CPRM certification program is $395 for NRF members and $495 for non-members. This fee includes the application fee, exam fee, study materials, and certificate upon successful completion of the program.

3. Certified Retail Associate (CRA)

Certified Retail Associate (CRA) is a certification offered by the National Retail Federation (NRF). It is designed to recognize retail professionals who demonstrate the highest level of knowledge and skill in their field. The CRA credential is available to anyone working in retail, from entry-level associates to senior executives.

The CRA exam consists of 150 multiple choice questions covering topics such as customer service, sales techniques, product knowledge, store operations, and inventory management. The exam typically takes two hours to complete and can be taken at an NRF-approved testing center or online.

In order to become certified, applicants must first register for the exam with the NRF. After registering, applicants must pay a fee of $125 USD and then schedule an appointment for the exam. Upon successful completion of the exam, applicants will receive their official CRA certificate from the NRF.

The cost of becoming a Certified Retail Associate is $125 USD plus any applicable taxes or fees associated with taking the exam.

4. National Retail Federation Certification (NRF)

The National Retail Federation Certification (NRF) is a voluntary certification program designed to recognize retail professionals who demonstrate excellence in their field. It is the only certification of its kind that focuses solely on the retail industry.

The NRF Certification process requires applicants to demonstrate proficiency in four core areas: customer service, operations, merchandising, and marketing. The program also includes an assessment of the applicant’s knowledge and understanding of current trends and best practices in the retail industry.

It typically takes between 4-6 weeks to complete the NRF Certification process. To get started, applicants must first register for the program online at nrfcertified.org. Once registered, applicants will be asked to complete an online application form that includes questions about their education, experience, and qualifications related to retail management.

Applicants must also submit a resume and two letters of recommendation from employers or supervisors who can attest to their professional qualifications for the position they are applying for. After submitting all required documentation, applicants will receive an email with instructions on how to take the NRF Certification exam.

The cost of taking the NRF Certification exam is $250 USD per person plus applicable taxes and fees. Upon successful completion of the exam, applicants will receive a certificate attesting to their achievement as an NRF Certified Retail Professional.

5. National Association of Sales Professionals Certification (NASP)

The National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP) Certification is a professional certification program for sales professionals. It is designed to recognize and validate the skills and knowledge of experienced sales professionals. The certification is awarded after a successful completion of the NASP Certification Program, which includes an online assessment and an in-person interview with a NASP Certified Professional.

The NASP Certification Program takes approximately 8-10 weeks to complete. During this time, candidates must complete an online assessment, participate in an in-person interview with a NASP Certified Professional, and demonstrate their knowledge of sales principles and practices. Upon successful completion of the program, candidates will receive their official NASP Certificate.

To get the NASP Certification, candidates must first register for the program on the NASP website. Candidates will then be required to submit their application along with proof of experience in sales or related fields. Once approved by the NASP Board of Directors, candidates will receive access to the online assessment portion of the program. After completing the online assessment and passing it with a score of 80% or higher, they will be invited to participate in an in-person interview with a NASP Certified Professional. Successful completion of both components will result in receiving their official certificate from the association.

The cost for getting your NASP Certification can vary depending on where you live and what type of program you choose to take part in. Generally speaking, it can range anywhere from $500-$1,500 USD for all required materials and fees associated with taking part in the program.

6. Certified Professional Salesperson (CPSP)

Certified Professional Salesperson (CPSP) is a designation offered by the National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP). It is designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated expertise in sales and sales management. The certification requires applicants to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in areas such as customer service, product knowledge, marketing, communication, negotiation, and problem solving.

It typically takes 12-18 months to complete the program. To get certified, applicants must first pass an online assessment that tests their knowledge of sales fundamentals and techniques. Once they pass the assessment, they can then apply for the certification program.

The cost of the program varies depending on whether you take it online or in person. Online courses typically range from $500-$1000 while in-person courses can cost up to $3000. Additionally, there are fees associated with taking the exam and maintaining your certification status.

7. International Council of Shopping Centers Certificate Program (ICSC)

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) Certificate Program is a professional development program designed to provide retail real estate professionals with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the industry. The program consists of three courses: Introduction to Retail Real Estate, Advanced Retail Real Estate, and Leasing & Management. Each course is offered online and takes approximately 20 hours to complete.

To get the ICSC Certificate, you must first register for the program online. Registration fees are $750 per course or $2,250 for all three courses. After registering, you will have access to the materials needed to complete each course. Once you have completed all three courses and passed the corresponding exams with a score of 70% or higher, you will receive an official ICSC Certificate in recognition of your achievement.

The ICSC Certificate Program provides retail real estate professionals with a comprehensive understanding of the industry and helps them develop their skillset in areas such as leasing, marketing, management, finance, law and more. It also serves as a valuable credential that can help individuals stand out from other job applicants when seeking employment opportunities in the field.

8. American Marketing Association Certificate in Retailing Management

The American Marketing Association (AMA) Certificate in Retailing Management is a professional certification program that provides retail professionals with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the retail industry. The program consists of five courses: Retail Fundamentals, Retail Operations, Merchandise Management, Customer Service, and Digital Retailing. Each course covers topics such as customer service, merchandising, marketing, operations management, and digital technologies.

The AMA Certificate in Retailing Management takes approximately three months to complete. It is offered online through the AMA website or through select universities and colleges. To get the certificate, participants must successfully complete all five courses within the three-month period.

The cost of the AMA Certificate in Retailing Management varies depending on where it is taken. It typically costs between $500 and $1,000 for all five courses.

9. Society for Human Resource Management Certified Professional in Retail Management

The Society for Human Resource Management Certified Professional in Retail Management (SHRM-CP-R) is a certification program designed to recognize the knowledge and skills of retail professionals. It is one of the most recognized certifications in the retail industry, providing an opportunity for professionals to demonstrate their commitment to excellence and career advancement. The SHRM-CP-R certification is available to all individuals who meet the eligibility requirements.

The SHRM-CP-R certification requires a minimum of two years of professional experience in retail management or related fields, as well as successful completion of an approved course or program. To obtain the certification, applicants must pass a comprehensive examination that tests their knowledge and understanding of key concepts related to retail management. The exam consists of 150 multiple choice questions and takes approximately three hours to complete.

To maintain the SHRM-CP-R certification, individuals must complete continuing education credits every three years. These credits can be obtained through attending conferences, seminars, webinars, or other activities related to retail management.

The cost for obtaining the SHRM-CP-R certification varies depending on whether you are a member or nonmember of SHRM. For members, the cost is $300; for nonmembers it is $400. In addition, there may be additional fees associated with taking the exam such as registration fees and proctoring fees.

10. Institute for the Certification of Retail Professionals Certificate in Customer Service

The Institute for the Certification of Retail Professionals Certificate in Customer Service is a professional certification program that provides individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively manage customer service operations. The program is designed to help retail professionals gain the skills and confidence needed to excel in their roles as customer service representatives.

The program consists of two courses: Customer Service Fundamentals and Advanced Customer Service Strategies. The Fundamentals course covers topics such as communication, problem solving, conflict resolution, and customer service best practices. The Advanced Strategies course focuses on developing customer loyalty, managing difficult customers, and creating an effective customer service culture. Both courses are offered online or in-person at select locations throughout the United States.

The program takes approximately 12 weeks to complete, depending on the student's schedule and availability. To get started with the program, students must first apply for admission by completing an application form found on the Institute’s website. Once accepted into the program, students will need to pay a fee of $495 USD in order to access all course materials and take part in exams. Upon successful completion of both courses and passing all exams, students will receive their Certificate in Customer Service from the Institute for the Certification of Retail Professionals.

11. National Retail Federation Customer Service Representative Certification

The National Retail Federation (NRF) Customer Service Representative Certification is a professional certification that demonstrates an individual’s knowledge and skills in customer service. This certification is designed to help retail customer service professionals gain the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in their role.

The NRF Customer Service Representative Certification includes two parts: the NRF Certified Professional (NCP) exam and the NRF Certified Associate (NCA) exam. The NCP exam covers topics such as customer service principles, problem solving, communication, and customer relations. The NCA exam covers topics such as sales techniques, product knowledge, order processing, and store operations.

To earn the NRF Customer Service Representative Certification, individuals must pass both exams with a score of at least 70%. The exams can be taken online or at an approved testing center. The cost of the exams varies depending on where they are taken but typically range from $100-$200 per exam.

The total time it takes to obtain the certification depends on how quickly you are able to study for and pass both exams. Generally speaking, it can take anywhere from 1-3 months to complete the entire process.

Do You Really Need a Retail Sales Associate Certificate?

Whether or not you need a retail sales associate certificate depends on the job you are applying for. Some employers may require that you have a retail sales associate certificate in order to be considered for the position. This certification demonstrates that you have the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in a retail environment.

If you are looking for an entry-level position in retail, having a certification can help set you apart from other applicants and give you an edge when it comes to landing the job. It shows potential employers that you have taken the initiative to learn more about the industry, as well as become trained in customer service, merchandising, and other aspects of working in a store.

However, if the job does not specifically list this type of certification as a requirement, then it may not be necessary for your application. In this case, other qualifications and experience may be more important than having a retail sales associate certificate. For example, having prior customer service experience or showing that you have been successful in past positions may go further than having a certificate alone.

Ultimately, whether or not you need a retail sales associate certificate depends on what kind of job you are applying for and what is required by the employer. If it is necessary to obtain one for your particular job search, then taking the time to get certified could be beneficial for your career prospects.

Related: Retail Sales Associate Resume Examples

FAQs About Retail Sales Associate Certifications

Q1: What is a Retail Sales Associate Certification?

A1: A Retail Sales Associate Certification is a professional certification program designed to provide sales associates with the knowledge and skills they need to excel in their role as retail sales associates. It includes training in customer service, sales techniques, product knowledge, and other retail-related topics.

Q2: How do I become certified as a Retail Sales Associate?

A2: To become certified as a Retail Sales Associate, you must complete an approved certification program. The program may include courses, exams, or both. You may also need to have relevant work experience or pass additional tests to receive your certification.

Q3: What are the benefits of becoming a certified Retail Sales Associate?

A3: Becoming certified as a Retail Sales Associate can help you stand out from other job applicants and demonstrate your commitment to excellence in the field. Additionally, it can help you get better pay and promotions by demonstrating your expertise in retail sales.

Q4: How long does it take to become certified as a Retail Sales Associate?

A4: The amount of time it takes to become certified depends on the specific certification program you choose. Generally speaking, most programs can be completed within 6 months to 1 year.

Q5: Is there an exam required for certification?

A5: Yes, most certification programs require passing an exam in order to become certified as a Retail Sales Associate. The type of exam varies depending on the specific program you choose.