Merchandising Training Programs and Requirements

Merchandising training is available at a multitude of 2-year and 4-year schools. Undergraduate degree programs provide training in sales and merchandising, consumer merchandising or merchandise marketing.

Essential Information

Entry-level careers in the merchandising field generally require a high school diploma. Merchandisers at this level may be responsible for displays at a single store or displays of a particular product at multiple retail outlets. Courses in the family and consumer sciences and an undergraduate degree in merchandising or marketing allow students to advance their careers in merchandising management. Retail sales and merchandising experience is preferred for higher-level careers in merchandising.

  • Program Levels in Merchandising: Associate's degrees, Bachelor's degrees, Master's programs
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma
  • Program Length: 2 years for associate's degrees, 4 years for bachelor's degrees
  • Other Requirements: Thesis sometimes required for master's programs

Associate of Applied Science Programs

Graduates of associate-level programs in merchandising can qualify as candidates for entry-level positions in retail management, sales and visual merchandising. The 2-year programs offer course topics that include:

  • Sales presentations
  • Buying
  • Pricing
  • Trend analysis
  • Merchandise allocations

Bachelor's in Merchandising

Baccalaureate programs in merchandising often provide students with the opportunity to focus on a specific area, such as fashion, electronics or home furnishings. Graduates are prepared for more advanced positions, such as a merchandising specialist for an international company or buyer for a retail franchise. Students in undergraduate degree programs take courses that include:

  • Brand and product placement
  • Market research
  • Promotion
  • Sales
  • Merchandising technology
  • E-merchandising

Master's in Merchandising

Executives and merchandising department directors often complete a master's degree in merchandising, which covers business and leadership strategies in addition to fundamental merchandising training. Many master's programs are available in distance-learning formats. A thesis is usually required, and students conduct research on a wide range of merchandising topics that include:

  • Product conception
  • Resource management
  • Information exchange technologies

Popular Career Options

Some common job titles for those who get a degree in merchandising include sales representative, seasonal merchandiser, fashion merchandiser, visual merchandiser and retail merchandiser.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the BLS, the employment for retail sales workers is expected to grow 10% from 2012-2022. The BLS reports that as of May 2014, retail salespersons make a mean annual wage of $25,760.

Workshops and Seminars

Professional expos and conventions, sponsored by professional organizations, are common for merchandisers at the international, domestic and regional levels. Generally, updates are provided on current economic conditions and new developments. Seminars may focus on e-commerce and its impacts.

Continuing Education

Numerous professional organizations provide career development opportunities for merchandising professionals. A wide range of specializations exist in the field, and an organization exists for many of them. Some of the larger entities are the National Association of General Merchandise Representatives, the National Association for Retail Merchandising Services and the International Textile and Apparel Association.

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