Visual Merchandiser Careers

ENTRY LEVEL EDUCATION

Bachelor's Degree in Design

CAREER TRAINING

Interior Design Courses

NUMBER OF JOBS

91,000

JOB OPENINGS

40,000

JOB GROWTH

10-19%

AVG. SALARY

$26,190 /yr

$12.59 /hr

All Stats from O*Net

Visual merchandisers use their design skills to create retail displays and floor plans—to show products to their best effect, make the store beautiful, and motivate sales.

Visual Merchandiser Job Description

Visual merchandisers need to have an eye for design. But they also need a strong business and sales sense, and an understanding of traffic flow and layout in a retail setting. Visual merchandisers don’t just make the store pretty; they make sure it’s easy for customers to find what they’re looking for, boost sales by using the displays to suggest ways shoppers can coordinate and accessorize their purchases, know exactly where to highlight certain products to best effect.

In addition, visual merchandisers boost the sales of items that haven’t been selling well—by creating displays that educate and engage customers with the product.

How to Become a Visual Merchandiser

There are many different types of degrees that could help you become a visual merchandiser. An Associate’s degree may be all you need for entry-level positions. An Associate’s degree in visual merchandising would focus on hands-on aspects of the job such as window display setup and lighting, mannequin styling, color and graphic design, market research, and cost analysis of display creation.

Having a Bachelor’s degree helps, however, especially for more competitive positions and for those who have no job experience. A degree such as a B.S. in fashion and retail management would be a good example of the type of degree that could help you get into this field.

However, a specific type of degree is not mandatory, and many visual merchandisers get their start by working in retail—sometimes without more than a high school degree. Particularly in smaller stores, retail floor associates sometimes have the opportunity to assist with mannequin styling, floor and window displays, and stock merchandising.

If you decide to try the work experience route, take pictures of everything you design or style in the shop floor—and keep records of how your designs boosted sales. Soon you’ll have a strong portfolio of designs with sales numbers to back it up—a very compelling presentation for a visual merchandiser position.

Earning an Online Degree as a Visual Merchandiser

It’s not likely that earning an online degree in visual merchandising—as opposed to a traditional degree—will hold you back in this field. In general, the retail sector does not have a high education requirement for entry-level work—it’s quite possible to get promoted within the ranks from a retail associate position to a visual merchandiser role without more than a high school degree. An

In some fields that are heavily regulated—either by the state or by private professional associations—it can be difficult to get a job with an online degree, because the regulations require a degree earned at a school with a certain kind of professional accreditation that sometimes excludes or limits online programs. However, visual merchandising is not a heavily regulated field. As long as your online degree program is regionally accredited, an online degree is likely to be accepted by employers.

Visual Merchandiser Work Environment

Visual merchandisers usually work either as part of an in-store design team or as part of a field team that travels between different locations to oversee changing visual displays. Most in-store teams are located in larger department stores. Field teams often work with larger chain retail stores.

Visual Merchandiser Salary

According to Salary.com, visual merchandisers earn a median salary of $44,750 in the United States. This number can vary, however, depending on the size of the company you work for, your education and number of years of experience, and your location.

Pros and Cons

The advantage of this career lies in its mystique —it can be quite high-profile and glamorous, particularly if you are designing the display windows for a well-known flagship store. In addition, it gives creative types an opportunity to be creatively fulfilled in a more stable, salary-focused corporate environment—a rare combination.

However, the pay is not high—and neither is growth. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment for set and exhibit designers in general is expected to grow by around 10%. In addition, there is high competition for these jobs—probably due to the glamour factor. If you are interested in a career in visual design, it may be easiest to get a job if you have both a combination of hands-on retail experience and an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree.

Places to Look for Visual Merchandising Jobs

Simply Hired

Indeed.com Glassdoor.com

For Further Research:

Occupational Outlook Handbook: Designers

Indeed.com: Visual Merchandiser Forum

Glassdoor.com: Forever 21 Visual Merchandiser Interview Questions