Be an Industrial Merchandiser: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become an industrial merchandiser. Research the job duties and the education requirements, and find out how to start a career in industrial merchandising.

Should I Become an Industrial Merchandiser?

Industrial merchandisers work in business-to-business sales, usually for wholesale distribution companies that supply products used by organizations to conduct their day-to-day operations. A type of purchasing agent, these individuals work with product vendors to maintain a distributor's inventory. They also ensure customer orders are processed quickly and accurately. Typical job duties include obtaining quotes from vendors and ensuring their products match specifications outlined by customers. Industrial merchandisers may also analyze prices, negotiate contracts and work to ensure products are delivered on time.

These professionals generally work in office settings, though travel could be necessary. They are also frequently required to work overtime.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Business, economics, marketing or a related field
Key Skills Analytical, problem-solving and negotiating skills; customer service and communication skills
Salary (2014) $64,930 (median for purchasing managers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Get Work Experience

Employers can require anywhere from 2-6 years of relevant work experience to qualify for an industrial merchandiser position. Experience can be gained through entry-level purchasing agent positions, preferably with wholesale distributors. Some companies provide on-the-job training for new employees in which they shadow more advanced purchasing agents or sales representatives.

Step 2: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

While a bachelor's degree is not necessarily required for an industrial merchandising position, they can help program graduates stand out to employers who prefer applicants with one of these 4-year degrees. Several majors are appropriate for aspiring industrial merchandisers. For example, students might pursue majors in business administration and take management, marketing and accounting courses to develop their business acumen and negotiating skills. The professional selling and consumer behavior courses found in a marketing program could also prove useful to prospective industrial merchandisers. An economics program could also help students understand factors affecting product price and market trends.

Step 3: Earn Professional Certification

Voluntary credentials are available from organizations like the Institute for Supply Management and the American Purchasing Society, which offers the Certified Purchasing Professional designation. To earn this credential, individuals must meet education and/or experience requirements and earn passing exam scores after taking a 3-week online course. Earning one of these credentials could help you demonstrate your expertise to potential employers.

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