What Are the Education Requirements of a Visual Merchandising Career?

Visual merchandising combines business and design to develop visual strategies that get customers to purchase products. Educational requirements to work in this field range from a high school diploma to varying certificates and degrees. Read on to learn more about formal education options and potential earnings. Schools offering Communication Design & Interactive Media degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Visual Merchandising Overview

Visual merchandising is a company's silent salesperson. The job entails setting up a store's layout and creating displays that entice customers to pick up a product they didn't plan on purchasing. Everyone makes impulse buys - visual merchandising exploits this tendency.

Important Facts About Visual Merchandisers

Training Previous work experience or training
Key Skills Visualization, creativity, communication, teamwork, time management
Work Environment May be part of a team; work may be physically demanding; may work early mornings before store opens or late nights after closing
Similar Occupations Set and exhibit designers, sales managers, retail buyers, retail salespersons, floral designers

Minimum Education Requirements

A career in visual merchandising may be obtained with no more than a high school diploma, as some employers are willing to train on the job. However, some employers may prefer or require some formal postsecondary education. Postsecondary education is a definite requirement for advancement in a visual merchandising career. In some cases, certificate or degree programs include internships, allowing students to gain practical experience in the field.

Formal Education Programs

Earning an associate's degree or certificate in retail or design can lead to a visual merchandising career as a merchandiser or merchandising assistant. A bachelor's degree in visual merchandising, graphic design, fashion, fashion management, business, marketing or retail management can all lead to a career as a visual merchandising director or manager. Visual merchandising 4-year programs may include courses that utilize 'Mockshop,' a software application that models a 3-D virtual store. Students additionally learn about techniques, strategies, planning, theories and concepts in visual merchandising, as well as subjects including the following:

  • Interior store design
  • Store layout
  • Fixtures
  • Lighting and signs
  • Merchandising planograms
  • Target market

Visual Merchandising Career Outlook and Salary Information

Merchandising Assistant

In September 2018, PayScale.com reported that most visual merchandising assistants earned between $31,000 and $48,000 per year. The median yearly wage for these workers was $34,000.

Visual Merchandiser

PayScale.com listed a median yearly wage of $43,475 for visual merchandisers in June 2019, with most making an annual income of $30,000 - $67,000. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the number of jobs for merchandise displayers and window trimmers will increase 3% between 2016 and 2026, which is slower than average compared to other occupations.

Visual Merchandising Manager

According to PayScale.com in June 2019, visual merchandising managers usually earned $39,000 - $86,000 per year, with the median annual wage falling at $60,547.

Visual Merchandising Director

As reported by PayScale.com, most visual merchandising directors earned an annual wage of $63,000 - $149,000 as of May 2019. At that time, the profession's median yearly wage was $98,341.

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