People pursuing a career in merchandise marketing can earn an associate's degree in marketing or a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a marketing concentration. At both degree levels, students gain fundamental knowledge of marketing practices and principles, including how to analyze consumer trends and promote and conduct sales, even through e-commerce. Associate's degrees require two years of study, while bachelor's degrees take four years. A bachelor's degree program in business administration offers courses in business fundamentals such as finance and management in addition to marketing.
Both degree levels require a high school diploma or equivalent. In some cases, schools also have minimum GPA and standardized test score requirements. Additionally, some bachelor's degree programs require prior coursework in statistics and computer applications.
Associate's Degree in Marketing
A marketing associate's degree program teaches students the principles of marketing and how consumer trends, sales promotion and distribution of merchandise are handled. Students learn to use research data to make the right marketing decisions for particular products. Emphasis is placed on Internet e-marketing and on how social networks are used to virally promote merchandise.
Students take general education courses in subjects such as English composition, mathematics, and humanities. Merchandising and marketing electives are selected from approved courses. A typical associate's degree program is 107 credits. Coursework includes:
- Consumer behavior and principles of marketing
- Retail merchandising
- Web, electronic and database marketing
- Principles of logistics
- Principles and practices of customer service and Internet customer service
Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration (Marketing)
The marketing concentration in a business bachelor's degree program emphasizes policy studies and personnel management. Quality and supply management for merchandise are examined. Students learn to make decisions in negotiating, purchasing, promoting, logistics and inventory. Emerging issues in marketing, particularly as they relate to new technologies, are considered.
Students applying for admission into the bachelor's degree program must have associate's degrees in marketing or closely-related fields. Some schools require proven proficiency in statistics and computer applications.
Mathematics study is emphasized in merchandise marketing programs, and students learn interpretation of consumer research data for analyzing problems. Students receive an introduction to international marketing. Coursework may include the following:
- Statistics and management science
- Import and export financing
- Organizational behavior
- Global marketing and international economy
- Business finance and communications
- Information systems and applications
An associate's degree in marketing helps the graduate obtain entry-level positions in merchandise marketing; graduates may find work as assistant buyers, purchasing clerks, merchandise sales trainees, or merchandising representatives. However, job applicants with a bachelor's degree in marketing may have more opportunities and an ability to advance more quickly.
Salary Info and Employment Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the employment of market research analysts, including merchandise marketing professionals, is expected to grow by about 19% between 2014 and 2024. The employment of advertising, promotions and marketing managers, however, is expected to grow by 9% during the same time frame. Those individuals with higher-level degrees in merchandise marketing will have better opportunities for higher-paid positions, as the BLS notes that a bachelor's degree, at a minimum, is required to work as a market research analyst. Merchandise managers earned a median annual salary of $53,773 in January of 2016, according to PayScale.com.
Employers usually prefer to hire candidates with bachelor's degrees for management positions in merchandise marketing. Those employed as merchandise managers typically take continuing education courses and seminars in order to advance or hone their skills.
Merchant managers can either be market research analysts or advertising, promotions and marketing managers. To enter in one of these careers you either need an associate's degree in marketing or a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration.