Merchandise Manager Career and Salary Facts

Research what it takes to become a merchandise manager. Learn about job responsibilities, education and training requirements, and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Fashion Design & Merchandising degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Merchandise Manager?

Merchandise managers are upper-level purchasing professionals who coordinate a retail organization's purchase of goods and/or services. They often meet with sales representatives from wholesalers to determine which goods to order, and they negotiate sales contracts to procure goods to meet the needs of their customers. In addition, they arrange products in the store itself and train employees so that they are ready to provide useful and accurate information to customers about the merchandise.

The following chart gives you an overview about entering this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree, often with an industry-specific preference
Certification Optional, including: Certified Professional in Supply Management, Certified Professional Purchasing Manager, Certified Public Purchasing Officer
Key Responsibilities Evaluating vendors and suppliers, negotiating contracts, developing purchasing policies, considering your organization's requirements or objectives
Job Growth (2014-2024) 1% (for all purchasing managers)*
Median Salary (2017) $55,502 (for all merchandise managers)**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **

What Does a Merchandise Manager Do?

Merchandise managers, sometimes known as retail merchandise managers or purchasing managers, are professionals who coordinate an organization's purchase of goods and/or services. Their duties often include evaluating different vendors and suppliers, negotiating contracts and developing purchasing policies. In this role, you may also consider your organization's requirements or objectives to determine price, delivery, quality control and other factors. In some positions your responsibilities can include developing, maintaining and analyzing related reports, such as those pertaining to inventory, service performance and costs.

What Training Do I Need?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most purchasing managers, including those who work in retail trade merchandising management, hold a bachelor's degree. Degree programs related to this field include a Bachelor of Science in Retail Merchandise Management or Bachelor of Arts in Merchandising and Design with a concentration in merchandise management. While other related programs can be found in business and marketing, some employers may prefer applicants with degrees that are industry specific. For example, manufacturing companies may prefer applicants with degrees in engineering or an applied science.

Employers may also offer on-the-job training or prefer applicants with prior work experience in a related position and relevant skills, such as communication, negotiation and management skills. Although you don't need professional certification for all career opportunities, you may consider earning credentials like the Certified Professional in Supply Management, Certified Professional Purchasing Manager or Certified Public Purchasing Officer.

What Is My Career Outlook and Projected Salary?

You could work in a wide array of industries, including apparel, government, agriculture, construction, manufacturing, healthcare and telecommunications. The BLS projected a one percent increase in employment for all purchasing managers between 2014 and 2024. reported in January 2017 that most merchandise managers earned between $25,901 and $92,860.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Instead of working as a merchandise manager, you could get a job as a different kind of manager. For instance, as a financial manager, you would monitor the financial health of an organization and develop strategies for improvement, such as making investments or increasing efficiency. You need to have at least a bachelor's degree for this job. Another possibility is a position as a food services manager, where you would be responsible for coordinating all operations within a dining establishment, like a restaurant. Your duties would include ordering ingredients and equipment, scheduling staff and ensuring that sanitation protocols are followed. The minimum educational requirement is a high school diploma, but previous food service experience can help you get a job.

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