Most students can earn a product development and merchandising bachelor's degree in four years. Internships with designers, retail chains and buyers are an increasingly important part of undergraduate product development and merchandising education. Shorter degree programs are available to students who have a related associate's degree. Additionally, the concepts learned in these programs can be applied in various industries, though some programs do offer specializations in fashion merchandising.
Bachelor's Degree in Product Development and Merchandising
To enroll in an undergraduate program in product development and merchandising, students must first earn a high school diploma or equivalent. Most bachelor's degree programs are open to students with no background in product development and merchandising, though some offer a shorter professional track for students who have earned an associate's degree in the field. A bachelor's program in product development and merchandising incorporates an array of courses, like human resource management, computer science and sociology. The curriculum covers general education, basic business management, marketing and retail. Along with a business education, students must take classes in online retail, procurement and organizational behavior. Students also learn strategies for marketing products, developing brands and recognizing trends.
The following courses are commonly included:
- Consumer textiles
- Visual components in merchandising
- Analyzing apparel
- Merchandising systems
- Principles of online retail
Popular Career Options
Manufacturing companies, advertising agencies and engineering firms often hire individuals with degrees in product development and merchandising. Graduates with this degree may find satisfying careers in one of the following occupations:
- Personal shopper
- Retail manager
- Public relations representative
- Distributions director
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects about average employment growth of 7% for retail salespersons from 2014-2024, and these professionals earned a median annual salary of $21,780 in May 2015 (www.bls.gov). First-line supervisors of retail sales workers, including retail managers, are expected to have slower-than-average employment growth of 5% during the 2014-2024 decade. The median annual wage for these supervisors was $38,310 in May 2015. For transportation, storage and distribution managers, the median annual wage in May 2015 was $86,630.
Continuing Education Information
After earning a product development and merchandising bachelor's degree, students can pursue additional education in a graduate or professional school program. A master's degree in marketing, accounting or business administration, might lead to a career in managerial or executive positions. Doctoral degrees in business-related fields can create job opportunities with academic institutions, research organizations and government agencies.
For those hoping to enter the world of product development and merchandising, pursuing a bachelor's degree in the subject will provide students with necessary skills to qualify for a variety of jobs within the field.