Retail Buyer Certification and Diploma Program Information

Certificate programs prepare students for entry-level or assistant-level work in the field, while those who obtain an associate's degree may apply for more advanced positions, depending on prior experience and employer.

Essential Information

Retail buyers purchase a range of products - from clothing to electronics and everything in between - at wholesale prices, and resell them at retail. Postsecondary programs for prospective retail buyers at the undergraduate level typically lead to a retail management certificate or an associate's degree. Buying-related courses in all of these programs include purchasing strategy and fashion trends, among others. Certificate programs and associate's degree programs require students to have a high-school diploma or equivalent. SAT or ACT scores may be requested as well.

Retail Buyer Certificate Program

Retail management certificate programs contain courses that cover the principles of retail buying. Oral and written communication skills along with the basics of product purchasing are stressed in such programs. Certificate candidates will learn the fundamentals of retail organization and the function of the buyer in the retail dynamic. A certificate in retail management will prepare the student for an entry-level position such as assistant buyer. Most certificate programs offer only core courses that pertain directly to the field of study. Below are several examples of core course topics:

  • Retail merchandising
  • Consumer behavior
  • Retail budgeting
  • Merchandising
  • Advertising
  • Business math

Associate's Degree in Retail Buying

Many associate's degree programs for aspiring retail buyers focus on fashion purchasing. Potential applicants will find several degree program options, such as an Associate of Science degree in Fashion Merchandising or an Associate of Arts degree in Merchandising Marketing. Because the goal of a retail buyer is to anticipate retail demands and consumer trends, well-developed critical thinking skills are vital to the successful buyer. Also, individuals enrolled in a retail buyer associate's degree program will learn a variety of other skills, including the methods of purchasing goods or commodities and determining which products to advertise.The following are courses that may be part of the program:

  • Introduction to market forecasting
  • Principles of consumer behavior
  • History of European fashion
  • Writing for business
  • Technology and merchandise purchasing

Popular Career Options

  • Buyer
  • Associate buyer
  • Senior buyer
  • Retail manager
  • Assistant buyer
  • Assistant purchasing agent
  • Retail sales person

Armed with a certificate or associate's degree, aspiring retail buyers can pursue entry-level positions for a myriad of stores. These programs expose graduates to all areas of buying and the principles of what drives sales.

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