Booksellers buy books from publishers or wholesalers and sell them to customers.

Average salary (a year)

£14,000 Starter


£40,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

39 to 41 a week

You could work

evenings / weekends / bank holidays

How to become a Bookseller

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly


You may have an advantage when looking for work if you've completed a qualification at university, like a higher national diploma or a degree. Employers will accept any subject, although some may prefer English, humanities or the arts.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels for a higher national diploma
  • 2 to 3 A levels for a degree

More information


You can learn some of the skills you need for this job by doing a:

  • Level 2 Certificate or Diploma in Retail Skills
  • Level 3 Diploma in Retail Skills Sales Professional

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D) for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) for a level 3 course

More information


You can get into this job through a retailer intermediate apprenticeship or a retail team leader advanced apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, for an intermediate apprenticeship
  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), usually including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship

More information

Direct application

You can apply directly for jobs. You'll usually need 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English and maths. Retail, customer service or publishing experience will also be helpful.

You'll need a broad range of reading interests and an enthusiasm for books.

You may need a particular qualification or understanding of a certain book type for some specialist bookshops. For example, an in-depth knowledge of comic art for a shop that sells graphic novels, or a background in classic literature for rare book sales.

More information

Career tips

You'll need sound business skills and a good grasp of the publishing and bookselling industry, if you're looking to open your own bookshop.

Further information

You can find more advice about bookselling and setting up your own business through the Booksellers Association.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • customer service skills
  • the ability to work well with others
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to sell products and services
  • You will be expected to use a computer confidently as part of this job.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties might include:

  • serving customers – taking payment, giving advice, answering enquiries and ordering in books 
  • stock control – assessing the market and ordering new stock 
  • admin tasks – accounting, distributing orders, arranging deliveries and dealing with returns

Working environment

You could work at a store.

Your working environment may be physically demanding.

Career path and progression

With financial backing and a lot of experience, you could open your own bookshop.

You could also work from home as a book dealer, or set up an online bookshop.

Training opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Iceland Supervisor Apprenticeship

  • Wage : £327.00 Weekly
  • Location: Bicester OX26 6TB

Castle Bromwich - Retail Apprenticeship

  • Wage : £162.00 Weekly
  • Location: Birmingham B34 7ED

Courses In England

Certificate in Customer Service Level 2

  • Provider: BRENT START
  • Start date: 27 February 2019
  • Location: LONDON

Level 1 Certificate in Customer Service

  • Start date: 15 March 2019
  • Location: CHESTER

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