What Are My Career Options in Merchandising?

Learn about merchandising careers, including typical job duties and educational requirements. Read on to review the job outlook and median salary data to determine if this is the right career field for you. Schools offering Fashion Design & Merchandising degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Careers Are Available to Merchandisers?

Career options in merchandising range from a sales clerk position all the way up to a sales executive. There are many options to choose from, including sales and advertising management, and wholesale or manufacturing sales.

Sales executives work with customers to take care of issues or complaints. They also prepare budgets, train sales personnel, and study sales trends to help select products.

Advertising managers work to create and present a plan for an advertising concept. They work with artists and other marketing experts to create ads or promos and teach employees how to stock shelves and place products to highlight the items in stores.

Wholesale and manufacturing representatives deal with buyers as their customer base. They meet with store managers or company representatives to help choose products to meet their sales goals. They help negotiate prices, write contracts, and follow-up to see if their customers need further help meeting their sales.

The table below will give you an overview of the job options in merchandising to help you determine if this is the right career field for you.

Sales Manager Wholesale/Manufacturing Sales Representative Advertising Manager
Education Required Bachelor's degree, or equivalent experience Bachelor's degree for selling scientific and technical products Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study General business, economics, marketing Business, chemistry, engineering Business, advertising, management
Key Responsibilities Attend to customer needs, prepare budgets, devise marketing plans to attract new customers Find potential clients and follow up on leads, guide customers in finding a suitable product for their needs, prepare contracts Devise advertising campaigns, discuss contracts and budgets with executives, conduct market research studies
Job Growth (2014-24) 5%* 7%* 5% for advertising and promotions managers*
Median Salary (2015) $113,860* $59,080* $95,890 for advertising and promotions managers*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Types of Careers in Merchandising Are Available?

Potential job opportunities for merchandisers exist at any store in which an owner or manager wants to sell a product and needs to attractively present it to customers. Merchandisers work for cosmetic, health and beverage companies, as well as in clothing, furniture and grocery stores. Job titles include sales manager, advertising manager, and wholesale/manufacturing sales representative.

What Would I Do As a Merchandiser?

As a merchandiser, you work to make a store's merchandise attractive to customers to promote the item's sale. You may create and arrange displays, price and tag products, plan and order inventory or perform market research. Many times, merchandisers work with buyers or other fashion professionals to identify the products that should be promoted on the store's floor.

Some merchandisers represent manufacturers. These merchandisers are often responsible for stocking shelves and displays for a group of stores that sell the manufacturer's product. In this type of position, you may also negotiate with store management for increased shelf space for optimum product placement.

How Can I Advance My Career?

There are no specific educational requirements to work as an entry-level merchandising specialist, but many employers prefer an associate's or a bachelor's degree in fields such as marketing, business administration or another design-related field. A master's degree may be necessary for senior or executive merchandising positions.

How Much Can I Earn?

Salaries in merchandising vary depending on the position and career level. In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) reported that sales managers, who oversee sales and budgets, earn a median salary of $113,860 and that advertising and promotions managers earn a median salary of $95,890 per year. The agency also reported that the median salary for wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives was $59,080 per year.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Related careers in merchandising include advertising sales agents, buyers and purchasing agents and market research analysts. Advertising sales agents work with a company and client to prepare creative sales packages and use them to promote a product or service. Buyers and purchasing agents study the needs of a business or company and then work with vendors to get the best prices to reach budget goals for the company. Market research analysts work with customer data, marketing research or sales trends to project sales and marketing needs. They help determine the types or media needed to best promote a product or service.

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