Career Information for a Degree in Retail Management and Merchandising
Retail managers oversee a store's operations and staff. Merchandisers determine how a product looks the best so that it sells well. A degree in retail management - or business administration with a concentration in retailing or merchandising - may help individuals embark on a career in one of these roles.
Career Information for Retail Store Managers
A retail store manager is responsible for ensuring that a store operates efficiently, profitably and that its employees perform adequately. They are responsible for a store's sales, employee schedule, resolving problems that arise in the store and for coordinating a store's activities. They may be 'department managers' in charge of a single department in a store. Or they may be 'department store managers' in charge of an entire store. They may manage any type of store that sells products. The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that retail sales workers are expected to see job growth of 17% between 2010-2020 (www.bls.gov).
The BLS reported that first-line supervisors of retail salespersons earned an average of $40,910 per year as of 2012 (www.bls.gov). Supervisors in clothing stores earned slightly more, at $41,140 per year. According to Payscale.com, most retail store managers earned $25,093-$66,325 per year as of December 2013.
Career Information for Merchandisers
Merchandisers, sometimes called 'merchandise managers,' are responsible for choosing looks, trends and matching colors for a product. They may supervise the purchase of products, but are mainly concerned with the marketing of merchandise. Sometimes, they oversee a group of buyers or department managers.
According to December 2013 data from Payscale.com, most merchandisers earned $18,915-$56,983 per year with increases according to experience. The same range of fashion merchandisers earned $19,968-$80,000 per year. For visual merchandisers, this range was $20,696-$50,097, and most senior merchandisers earned $27,891-$120,911.
Associate's and bachelor's degree programs are available in retail merchandising and management, retail management and fashion merchandising or fashion merchandise management. The curriculum covers topics such as retail and business, international business, store management, promotions, e-business, financial accounting and textiles. Some programs allow students to concentrate in buying and product management, fashion marketing or store operations management. Most programs include internships or similar work experiences.
Master's degree and graduate certificate programs are available in merchandising or retail merchandising. Some Master of Business Administration programs offer concentrations in retailing. These require about 36 credit hours of study and may include a thesis or a practicum. Classes include consumer behavior, product design, retail strategy, financial management, marketing and human resource management.
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