I worked for a "retail" tax prep biz in college. It was Jackson Hewitt. Maybe they are regional? IDK.
It was an interesting operation. I got paid a nominal hourly rate, plus a bonus at the end of the tax season. This was in 2002, but it was $7/hr back then. It was much less than the $11/hr I made working in a retail clothing shop at the same time, but since it was related to the work I anticipated doing after getting my degree, I took the job, and cut my hours at the store. I didn't go to their little tax school, I just interviewed and explained I'd taken an individual tax class as part of my coursework for my degree. The season end bonus was a percent of the fees we generated, including tax prep fees and fees for the refund anticipation loan. I did not try to sell the loans, but I was amazed at how many people opted for them. The fees were high on the RALs. Maybe 10% or more. It was a very expensive convenience. Maybe it was the area of Baltimore I was in, but many of the clients had really simple returns- just W-2s, many of the expecting to get EIC, so it was basically free money to them. If you tell someone who is strapped for cash that they can get $2,000 in a few weeks, or $1,750 now, I guess they just want their chunk of change ASAP.
The job was essentially data entry, and since most customers don't make appointments, you and your fellow tax preparers take customers hair-cuttery-style. You just take them on, one after the other, without much advance knowledge of what kind of return you will be preparing. A very small percentage of customers would request a particular preparer or make an appointment. But they are mostly simple returns. People with more complicated returns usually have money to go to a CPA firm, or think they are clever enough to do them on their own.
I'm not sure how you transition from a retail tax prep place to a more high end firm. By the time I hit the public scene, I had my degree and was enrolled in CPA exam prep classes.
Anyway, just my experience, thought I'd share it. Good luck to you!