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Apparel and Clothes Merchandiser: Career Summary

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an apparel and clothes merchandiser. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and salary to find out if this is the career for you.

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Aspiring apparel and clothes merchandisers need an associate's or bachelor's degree in fashion merchandising or a similar degree. Let's look at education opportunities for aspiring clothing merchandisers as well as basic career and salary information.

Essential Information

Apparel and clothes merchandising refers to the buying and selling of clothes at any phase of the manufacturing and retailing process. Merchandisers must have completed a degree program that equipped them with business skills, and they also need a keen eye for fashion that will appeal to customers.

Required Education Associate's or bachelor's degree in fashion merchandising or a related field
Projected Job Growth 6% (for wholesale and retail buyers in all industries, except farm products), 2014-2024*
Median Salary $50,393 (January 2016)**

Sources: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **PayScale.com.

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Career Summary for Apparel and Clothes Merchandisers

Apparel and clothes merchandising involves planning, buying and selling clothing and apparel. Work may involve any step of the manufacturing process, from selecting textiles to selling finished products. Those who work in this field must understand all of the social, political and economic factors that influence people's clothing selection in order to satisfactorily meet apparel and clothing needs.

Education Requirements

Many employers prefer to hire people who have associate's or bachelor's degrees in merchandising or related areas. These programs equip students with basic knowledge of the physical characteristics of textiles and various trends affecting the apparel and clothing marketplace. The production, distribution and consumer use of textiles and apparel are also studied. Students may have opportunities to gain hands-on experience through participating in internships or assisting with the production of fashion shows. Common courses may include:

  • History of fashion
  • Fashion merchandising
  • Clothing buying
  • Retail management
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Visual merchandising
  • Textile science
  • Computer applications

After completing their degree programs in fashion and apparel merchandising, graduates are prepared for entry-level jobs as stylists, visual merchandisers, fashion buyers, sales promotion coordinators, sales representatives and store managers.

Occupational Outlook

The BLS notes that employment of wholesale and retail buyers in all industries (except farm products ), which includes fashion buyers, was expected to grow by about 6% between 2014 and 2024. The success of the industry is highly dependent on the state of the economy and changing tastes of consumers so fluctuations in the number of jobs available are not uncommon. Having a college degree and computer skills may make it easier for workers to move into managerial positions.

Apparel merchandisers need an associate's or bachelor's degree in fashion merchandising or a related field. They can hold a variety of jobs, including fashion buyer and store manager. Job growth is expected to be steady through 2024, but this is a field highly dependent on the state of the economy and consumer behavior.

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