A young man in his 30s contacted a recruiter about making a career change to become a Walmart supplier. Although he had earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, he felt stuck in his role managing parts and service at a large auto park and wanted a new challenge.

The recruiter listened to the candidate’s concerns and laid out some of the benefits, challenges, and options for changing his career. With the right training and experience, the young man would have more career opportunities, but first he would have to be willing to take a step backward in pay and seniority to transition to a new career path. Because the young man didn’t have any industry experience, the recruiter could not place him in a supplier job. The candidate needed a plan to gain the skills for his new career.

Landing a job at Walmart in the merchandising division would be one way to get experience and training. Another would be to take an entry-level role with a merchandising services company like Advantage Sales & Marketing or ACOSTA in order to acquire Walmart systems training and hands-on experience with a range of consumer products companies. A third option would be to enroll in the Certified Retail Analyst program at NorthWest Arkansas Community College, a demanding course of study that teaches retail analysis for interpreting sales data and identifying opportunities to build market share.

The candidate committed to make a change and was hired at Walmart in the insights division of merchandising. He received six months of training, and advanced into a category analytics role. After two years’ experience in category insights, he was able to secure an associate client manager role with a third party insights vendor. He continues to learn about the myriad insights gathered on retail customers and is working toward a new goal: to manage a team of insights professionals.