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How to Become a Merchandising Professor

Learn how to become a merchandising professor. Research the education requirements, training information, and experience required for starting a career in postsecondary instruction. View article »

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  • 0:03 Merchandising…
  • 1:30 Earn a Bachelor's Degree
  • 1:54 Gain Work Experience
  • 2:22 Gain Management Experience
  • 2:46 Complete a Graduate Program
  • 3:12 Take an Adjunct…

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Video Transcript

Merchandising Professor Overview

Degree Level Doctoral degree for tenure-track university positions
Degree Field Merchandising, apparel or related area
Experience Professional and teaching experience may be required
Key Skills Critical thinking skills, communication skills, writing skills, CAD, merchandising technology programs
Mean Annual Salary (2015)* $92,220 (for postsecondary business teachers)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Higher Ed Jobs (November 2012)


Merchandisers are responsible for the planning and displaying of products for sale through retail chains and other stores. Individuals who have spent many years in the field may impart their experiences to future merchandisers by becoming merchandising professors. These educators plan and deliver lessons, evaluate student progress, and often conduct research in their particular field of interest. Classes may be taught evenings and weekends to accommodate students' work schedules.

To work as a full-time, tenure-track merchandising professor at a university, one is usually required to have a PhD as well as professional experience in merchandising. Positions for those with master's degrees may be available at community colleges. After graduation from a PhD program, an individual may work at a fashion institute, art school, or university as a merchandising professor. He or she might advise and mentor students, work with other faculty to develop internship and scholarship programs, and publish articles to various retail and merchandising publications. Merchandizing professors need critical thinking skills, communication skills, and writing skills. And they must be familiar with CAD and merchandising technology programs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, postsecondary business teachers earned a mean annual salary of $92,220 as of May 2015.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor's degree program in retail merchandising typically includes coursework in product presentation strategies, textiles, clothing construction, fashion theory, product development, global display distribution, and marketing. Students usually complete semester-long internships either at retail organizations or at apparel and home furnishing showrooms.

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Step 2: Gain Work Experience as a Merchandiser

After graduation from an undergraduate program, individuals might find employment merchandising for a specific department of a retail store or developing display plans at a retail store's home office. New merchandisers usually receive on-the-job training from their superiors. Trainees learn to develop ideas for displays, design floor plans and display models, prepare sketches, and assemble displays.

Step 3: Gain Work Experience as a Merchandising Manager

Experienced merchandisers may be promoted to merchandising managers. Merchandising managers plan and supervise the marketing and, in some cases, the buying of merchandise for several departments. Similar to merchandisers, managers work either at a retail store or at a retail store's home office.

Step 4: Complete a Graduate Program

An individual with a bachelor's degree or a merchandising manager interested in becoming a merchandising professor must first earn a Ph.D. in merchandising. In some cases, students must earn a master's degree before being allowed to enroll in a Ph.D program. Ph.D. candidates conduct research in the field and write and defend a thesis on the results.

Step 5: Take an Adjunct Teaching Position

Adjunct instructors generally must have at least a master's degree in the field they aspire to teach. An aspiring merchandising professor can obtain teaching experience preferred by many universities for tenure-track positions by working as an adjunct instructor. An adjunct position can be convenient for an individual who's either working in the field of merchandising or in the process of earning a Ph.D. If hired, one will teach a course in his or her field of study part-time and continue with his or her research or outside work.

In summary, becoming a merchandising professor requires gaining experience as a merchandiser and a merchandising manager and earning a graduate degree, typically a Ph.D. Additionally, working as an adjunct instructor can help an aspiring merchandising professor attain the necessary teaching experience.

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