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Merchandising and Buying Operations

Program Description

Just the Facts

Merchandising and Buying Operations. A program that prepares individuals to function as professional buyers of resale products and product lines for stores, chains, and other retail enterprises. Includes instruction in product evaluation, merchandising, applicable aspects of brand and consumer research, principles of purchasing, and negotiation skills.

This program is available in these options:

  • Certificate / Diploma
  • Associate degree
  • Graduate Certificate
  • Master's degree

High School Courses

See the high school courses recommended for programs in this career cluster:

See the high school courses recommended for programs in this pathway:

Related Careers

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Additional Information

If you have an interest in drama, a talent in art and a flare for design, visual merchandising arts may be the program for you.

Programs usually range from one to two years. "Our students take courses in basic design, lighting, display techniques, basic computer skills, computer graphics and promotional design and advertising," says David McDermid. He is coordinator of the visual merchandising arts program at a community college that offers a two-year program.

Dean Murray is a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology, part of the State University of New York. He says students in the two-year display and exhibition design program take courses in drafting, model making, lighting and computer graphics. "Our students must also take two courses each in art history, science and social science," he says.

You may be able to get some real-world experience before you graduate. McDermid says students must complete a field placement in both a department store and a specialty store.

The Fashion Institute of Technology does not include a work experience component in its program, but it does provide some options. "We do have some paid internships available and credit for these internships can be arranged," Murray says.

Focus on the arts in high school. "High school students considering this program should take as many art classes as possible and keep a portfolio of their best work," says McDermid.

"They might also want to take a cooperative education placement in retailing and try to get some experience in product placement and preparing window supplies."

If you get the chance to do any of that kind of work, you should photograph it for your portfolio, he adds.

Roger Kramer is a professor of visual merchandising in the retail science program at the University of Arizona. The school offers a two-year associate's degree program in visual merchandising.

Kramer says high school students should take "anything that uses your imagination, such as drama or theater, history, creative writing and of course, drafting or technical design courses."

He adds that joining a photography club or helping with the yearbook can give you good experience.

"Students should try to develop a real sense of visual presentation," says Murray. "They can do this by volunteering with community theater or taking the opportunity to work on special events such as proms and parades."

There are expenses besides tuition and books. "Other costs can vary widely depending on the materials the students choose for their assignments," says McDermid. "Drafting equipment can be quite expensive, but you have it for life."


Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Designers

Visual Store
A visual merchandising resource site

Fashion Net
Knowing what's hip is crucial to good merchandising


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