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, or equivalent, for a higher national diploma
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, 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), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, 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:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate 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
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

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.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Apprentice Sales Advisor - Schuh - Bradford

  • Wage: £182.50 Weekly
  • Location: Bradford

Retails Parts Advisor Apprentice

  • Wage: £136.50 Weekly
  • Location: Chelmsford

Courses In England

Customer Service - Level 2

  • Start date: 26 November 2020
  • Location: Blackpool

Customer Service Skills

  • Start date: 01 December 2020

Jobs In the United Kingdom

The Find a job service can help you with your search for jobs and send alerts when new jobs become available.

Skills assessment

Take an assessment to learn more about your skills and the careers that might suit you.

Get help using this service

Call 0800 100 900 or use webchat

8am to 10pm, 7 days a week

More ways to contact us

Is this page useful?

Yes No

Thank you for your feedback.

Thank you for your feedback. Click here if you'd like to let us know how we can improve the service.