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Fashion Merchandising Certificate: Program Overview

Fashion merchandising is where the runway and retail come together. Vocational and post-baccalaureate certificates in this subject area teach students how to identify, market, and promote apparel-related products that will sell.

Essential Information

In addition to courses in fashion, business, and the use of industry software, certificate programs also include some field experience. Undergraduate certificates in fashion merchandising are open to applicants with a high school diploma or its equivalent. Graduate certificates are available only to those holding a bachelor's degree or higher, preferably in a related field. GRE scores might be required of applicants as well.

Online courses and programs are available.


Undergraduate Certificate in Fashion Merchandising

This vocational certificate program is available to students without prior college experience, though some also allow applicants with an undergraduate degree in another area. The program's purpose is to provide occupational skills, and for those who do not wish to immediately pursue a degree, earning the certificate can serve as a credential for working in the fashion industry.

The curriculum is designed for students who are only interested in the technical aspects of the fashion industry and has few, if any, general education requirements. Coursework is usually at the introductory level and can include:

  • Fashion marketing
  • Retailing
  • Visual merchandising
  • Fashion promotion
  • Textiles

Graduate Certificate in Fashion Merchandising

Students who already work in the industry and have a degree but want to specialize or further their education can consider these programs. It's especially applicable for those who have majored in a related field, such as apparel or textiles, and want to pursue a more in-depth study of the industry. The post-baccalaureate certificate will usually incorporate upper-level and advanced coursework.

At the post-baccalaureate level, students take advanced courses in both the theoretical and practical aspects of fashion merchandising. In addition to clothing and textile studies, course topics can include:

  • Fashion theory and analysis
  • Apparel and product analysis
  • Consumer behavior
  • Buying and planning
  • Retailing and retail management

Career Options

An undergraduate certificate in fashion merchandising is a versatile credential that can give students the opportunity to work at the wholesale or retail levels as:

  • Buyers
  • Visual merchandisers
  • Retail managers
  • Fashion stylists
  • Showroom assistants

Continuing Education Information

Participants in a graduate certificate program are often those already working in the fashion industry looking to enhance their knowledge or career opportunities. Graduates who wish to further their studies even more may want to consider a master's degree program in family and consumer science with an emphasis on fashion, textiles, fashion merchandising, and design.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to PayScale.com, salaries earned by individuals skilled in fashion merchandising vary by job title: fashion buyers generally made between $35,364 and $126,045 per year; visual merchandisers were reported to earn between $28,986 and $62,519 annually; and fashion stylists' salaries ranged between $31,217 and $80,646 per year, as of January 2016.

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) does not provide information specific to the field of fashion merchandising, the BLS did project that the employment of fashion designers, merchandise displayers and window trimmers will all likely grow by about 3% between 2014 and 2024.

Individuals interested in the retail side of fashion can earn an undergraduate or graduate certificate in fashion merchandising and pursue career options ranging from showroom assistant to fashion buyer.


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