Consumer merchandising management involves the buying, promotion and sale of products to the public. Read about the courses and degree programs that can prepare you to enter the field, as well as how much you can earn as a purchasing agent, buyer or purchasing manager.
Consumer merchandising managers use their understanding of manufacturing, purchasing and marketing to sell products to consumers. If you enroll in a merchandising management program, you'll learn how the purchasing industry is organized while studying consumer behavior, pricing strategies and inventory control. When you're ready to go into the field, you may pursue a career in supply-chain management or work as a retail or marketing manager. You might also find employment as a merchandise manager, retail buyer or purchasing manager.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median annual salary for purchasing managers in May 2013 was $103,780, while buyers and purchasing agents earned $55,450. Overall employment for purchasing agents and managers, as well as buyers, was expected to increase by just 4% nationwide, or slower-than-average, between 2012 and 2022 (www.bls.gov).
Although a degree is not always required for employment, many potential employers prefer candidates with at least a bachelor's degree in retail merchandising and management. If you aspire to a high-level job as a purchasing manager, a graduate program in merchandising may be required. You may also qualify for a position with a master's degree in business management.
In addition to merchandising and retail management, your course of study may include topics in consumer behavior, economics and customer relations. You'll also learn about marketing, product development and statistics. Training in accounting, business communication and computer technology may also be part the curriculum.