What Training Is Required for a Career in Fashion Merchandising?

If you pursue a fashion merchandising career, you're most likely to work for a fashion retailer as a buyer, manager, or merchandiser. All of these careers in fashion merchandising require knowledge of fashion, retail operations, and economics. This article provides details on how to launch a career in fashion merchandising. Schools offering Fashion Design & Merchandising degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Preparation

A fashion merchandising professional usually works as a buying agent, a store or district manager, or a product merchandiser. To prepare for a fashion merchandising career, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), you'll need first-hand experience in retail. It also helps to have an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree in fashion merchandising or a related field.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Median Salary (2014) $106,090 (for purchasing managers)
Job Outlook (2012-2022) 4% (for purchasing managers)
Training Minimum of one year training after starting a job
Similar OccupationsFashion Designers, Advertising and Marketing Managers, Sales Representatives, Retail Management

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Experience

Some fashion retailers promote candidates from within their companies to higher-level positions in management, merchandising, and buying. These applicants have an edge over outside candidates because they already understand how the stores operate. Don't despair if you haven't worked in retail, though. Some big-name department stores like Macy's-Bloomingdale's (www.macyscollege.com) offer selective in-house training programs for promising college grads from any major.

Formal Education

If you already know that you want a career in fashion merchandising, consider developing your marketability by getting a degree in fashion merchandising, business, or marketing. Companies often require candidates for executive-level positions to have a bachelor's degree. According to the College Board (www.collegeboard.com), you can prepare for a career in fashion merchandising by taking classes in management, advertising or marketing, sales, social science, and, of course, fashion. The U.S. Department of Labor's Career OneStop (www.careeronestop.org) says that you'll need training in the following skills to succeed in fashion merchandising careers:

  • Understanding and predicting fashion trends
  • Mathematical analysis and accounting
  • Verbal and written communication
  • Management and human resources
  • Sales and marketing techniques

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