Visual Merchandising

A degree in visual merchandising can be the means of opening the door to an exciting career that requires creativity, a sense of style and business knowledge. Visual merchandising experts target various demographic groups to sell products and focus on the visual presentation aspects of marketing.

What Do Visual Merchandising Experts Do?

Visual merchandisers are responsible for the visual aspects of presenting items to potential customers. They focus on product displays, lighting, color and a host of other visual factors that encourage people to buy products. A visual merchandising program graduate might find work in the following fields:

  • Marketing Coordinator – This job involves managing large marketing campaigns and working with other experts to create advertising strategies
  • Decorator – A store decorator focuses on the environment of the store as a whole, making it an inviting place for customers who want to purchase various items. A decorator uses lighting, color and traffic patterns to steer potential customers toward purchases
  • Display Designer – Those who design displays, mannequins, fixtures and other promotional equipment focus on psychology and try to tempt customers to purchase items due to the placement and arrangement of various objects. They design displays that will cause customers to be attracted to certain products so that they may be more willing to purchase
  • Fashion Stylist – A fashion stylist works with those who sell shoes, clothes and accessories to order and present merchandise in such a way that customers are pulled toward fashions and make buying decisions based on what seems to be popular and in style at the moment.

What Kind of Degrees to Visual Merchandising Experts Have?

A visual merchandising expert may hold an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree. The associate’s or two-year degree equips these graduates to obtain entry-level jobs as department stores, retail outlets, boutiques or other establishments where merchandise is sold. A bachelor’s or four-year degree often adds marketing and business classes to the curriculum to give a visual merchandising expert more experience with management and how businesses are run. A typical degree will involve at least the following coursework:

  • Marketing –classes in how to market goods and why consumers make certain purchasing decisions
  • Visual presentation and displays—courses in how to attract customer attention with visual displays
  • Buying—courses in buying merchandise from wholesalers
  • Advertising –course in how to promote goods and services to potential customers
  • Merchandise planning –classes in how to project sales and order merchandise accordingly
  • Textiles and fabrics—classes in various types of fabrics and their uses in the fashion industry

How Much Can I Earn as a Visual Merchandising Expert?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2008, buyers earned a median annual salary of $50,490 with a bachelor’s degree. However, the earnings of various types of designers was much more flexible, with graphic designers earning a median annual salary of $46,750.

Earnings will depend largely on the size of the employer, the education level of the employee, and the years of experience. The highest-paying jobs will be with larger retailers in urban or heavily-populated areas, while those who work in small or independently-owned stores may earn much less.

What Is the Job Outlook for Visual Merchandising Experts?

As the population continues to grow, competition will be fierce for retail business. Therefore, visual merchandising experts are becoming part of a growing number of job classifications that are important to employers.

The number of jobs expected in this field will remain relatively unchanged between now and 2020. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that buying jobs will increase by about 7 percent, while fashion designer jobs will not grow at all.

However, the number of jobs encompassing visual merchandising may continue to grow at even a faster pace. Jobs for retail sales associates are projected to grow at a rate of 17 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is very possible that a degree in visual merchandising will make you a much stronger candidate for these types of jobs than someone with only a high school diploma.

Visual merchandising is a field that can give great satisfaction to someone who enjoys putting his or her artistic and decorative talents to good use but who also wants steady and dependable employment. Visual merchandising combines the best of both artistic and practical in a job that will allow you to exercise your creative temperament and still earn a regular paycheck.

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