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Visual Merchandising Education Requirements and Career Info

Visual merchandisers design and build window and interior displays that attract customers to retail locations. They are largely responsible for a store's overall ambiance and appeal. These pros need an eye for design, combined with a knowledge of how visual clues convey a tone and message to a certain clientele. Visual merchandisers usually hone their skills in programs leading to associate or bachelor's degrees in visual merchandising.

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Educational Requirements for Visual Merchandising

Some colleges, universities and independent commercial art schools offer majors in visual merchandising. Students interested in this field may choose a 2-year program leading to a degree, such as Associate of Science in Visual Merchandising or a 4-year program leading to a Bachelor of Business Administration in Visual Merchandising. Alternatively, students may major in visual communications if their particular school does not offer a merchandising concentration.

Associate's degrees are geared toward those who want to complete their education and enter the workforce quickly, pursuing jobs such as visual-merchandising assistant. Higher-level jobs in this field, such as management and consulting, may require 4-year degrees.

Curriculum

Associate's degree programs tend to provide a hands-on approach rather than an academically-focused degree plan. Students may learn to create and light a window display, dress a mannequin, apply fundamentals of color and graphic design to retailing problems, conduct market research and analyze the cost of creating a display.

Typical courses in a 4-year visual merchandising program may include color theory, design fundamentals, drawing, display graphics, marketing, branding, contemporary fashion and clothing history. Business-oriented courses may include buying, statistics, economics, accounting and strategic planning. In addition, courses may cover the history of American retailing, various types of stores and the kinds of displays that are appropriate for each type.

Career Info

A variety of jobs are available to trained visual merchandisers. Assistants may execute the designs created by those working in supervisory positions. Display designers concentrate on creating interior and window displays, as well as coordinating fixtures. Visual merchandising managers coordinate a store's total look, and directors often concentrate on branding, or developing an image, for a group of stores. Consultants in this field may come up with new ways to present a store's visual image.

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