Outlook for Fashion Merchandising Careers

Learn what to expect from careers in the fashion merchandising industry.
fashion merchandised mannequins on store floor

Fashion merchandising careers, like other fashion careers, traditionally attract a large number of people—so there are often more applicants than jobs.

However, if you're serious about fashion merchandising careers, don't let that discourage you.

Do everything you can to move your résumé to the top of the pile. Be willing to take an internship or entry level position. Since people tend to covet these careers and the job growth statistics are below average due to the limited number of positions, just getting your foot in the door may prove to be fortuitous.

Besides your ambition and drive, getting an education and basic work experience may also make you a more appealing job candidate.

Preparation for Careers in Fashion Merchandising

Many schools offer diplomas or degrees in fashion merchandising. Your choice of a diploma program or an associate's or bachelor's degree may depend on how quickly you want to enter the workforce. While diplomas and associate's programs have the advantage of being shorter, a bachelor's degree is a great asset whether you're starting a career in fashion merchandising or any other field. Here are some of the things you can do with each:

  • Diploma: A diploma in fashion merchandising is a program that will give you the skills to set up fashion displays, assist merchandisers and buyers, and perform basic marketing tasks as they relate to fashion.
  • Associate's: You'll be prepared for an entry-level role in acquisition, fashion buying or merchandising with a one- to-two year associate's degree.
  • Bachelor's: The four-year bachelor's is a versatile degree that can prepare you for a career in fashion marketing, personnel management, retail advertising or management, product buying and visual merchandising. If you plan on entering an executive program later in your career, you'll need to have earned your bachelor's to do so.

Getting work experience can also boost your chances of landing the job you want. Many companies prefer to promote from within before hiring someone from the outside. If you are willing to start at the bottom, you are more likely to get the fashion merchandising job you really want in the future. Take related jobs, and leverage your industry experience toward a fashion merchandising career.

Job Growth and Outlook

Jobs within the fashion industry are limited but varied, so here are different job growth predictions from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) current Occupational Outlook Handbook for different fashion merchandising careers. As a point of reference, the job growth rate for all occupations combined is 4% through 2029.

Fashion Merchandising CareersJob Growth Through 2030
Purchasing managers6%, lower than average
Buyers and purchasing agents-5%, lower than average
Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers10%, slightly faster than average

Fashion Merchandising Career Salaries

Fashion merchandisers are part of the larger field of buyers and purchasing agents. According to the BLS, the median national annual salary for buyers and purchasing agents in 2020 is $72,270. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth.