How to Become a Visual Merchandiser in the US

Visual Merchandiser
Institute of Technical Education

Ever walked into a fashion store and felt like purchasing every item on display? Well, that is the power of visual aesthetics. It is a marketing strategy that shopping stores employ to attract more buyers and maximize sales. Visual merchandisers are the specialists at the heart of this strategy. They create eye-catching displays!

What Do Visual Merchandisers Do?

Their day to day tasks include:

  • Generating creative ideas for product designs, floor plans and shelf layouts – this may involve drawing the designs by hand or using design applications
  • Crafting internal or window displays based on a certain style, trend or theme
  • Determining how to use lighting to creatively light up the store
  • Instructing sales staff on basic visual merchandising principles and practices
  • Placing purchase requisitions for equipment and accessories used to construct displays
  • Constructing displays and taking them down after promotion periods.

Work Environment

Visual merchandisers who work full-time normally begin their day at 8am and work till late, usually to adjust displays after closing. Those with part-time jobs have irregular work schedules.

The job is physically demanding, since these merchandisers spend most of the time on their feet, lifting equipment or climbing ladders. Some stores are not spacious, so there is a possibility you could work in cramped and hot environments.

Visual merchandisers employed by chain stores may travel regularly.


Visual merchandisers earn a follows:


Annual Wage

Lowest earning visual merchandisers

$27,274 - $34,256

Middle earning visual merchandisers

$34,256 - $49,973

Highest earning visual merchandisers

$49,973 - $57,300


Entry Requirements

To get started in this profession, earn at least an associate degree in visual or retail merchandising.

If you are keen on working in the fashion industry, an associate degree in fashion merchandising will give you the best preparation.

Here are some of the colleges offering these courses:

Alternatively, you can begin as a retail salesperson and receive some training from the store’s visual merchandiser. As you master merchandising techniques, you can be hired as the visual merchandiser’s assistant. If the merchandiser is later on promoted to another position, the vacant position could be yours for the taking!

Important Qualities

To become a competent visual merchandiser, you need:

  • Normal color vision
  • Excellent creative, design and visualization skills
  • A good sense of style
  • Strong drawing and computer skills
  • The ability to pay close attention to detail
  • The ability to stay abreast of trends in fashion, design and culture
  • Physical stamina and good eye-hand coordination abilities
  • Good teamwork skills
  • Good time management skills.

Career Development

As a beginner visual merchandiser, you will certainly start out in small retail stores as a part-time or full-time employee. In fact, many merchandisers in small stores also have other roles, such as sales or product promoting.

You should, therefore, focus on gaining vast experience and advanced qualifications to find employment in large stores.

One of the best ways to advance is to pursue a bachelor’s degree in visual merchandising or communication. You can join the Association for Retail Environments to access relevant career resources.

Job Opportunities

The employers of visual merchandisers include:

  • Fashion stores
  • Supermarkets
  • Department stores

Display opportunities may also be available in museum, art galleries and airports.

With vast expertise, you can be hired by a chain store as the lead visual merchandiser. You will be responsible for ensuring all the stores under the brand have the same ‘feel’.

Even though the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t provide job growth data for visual merchandisers, the retail industry has been growing steadily since 2009. With stores competing fiercely for customers, the demand for visual merchandising services is definitely high.

So, if you have a creative flair, imagination and a good sense of style, then maybe this is the job for you.