What Does a Visual Merchandising Associate Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More

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For many, "working in retail" is synonymous with "getting a job-of-last-resort." However, some retail industry jobs like visual merchandising associate are popular, coveted, competitive and viewed as being one of the "fun jobs" that the retail industry has to offer.

Visual merchandising team members contribute to the advertising, marketing, and sales efforts of a retail location by designing, developing and taking charge of the visual look of the store and its merchandise. As a member of the in-store merchandising team, you will execute merchandising strategies by creating and maintaining visual displays in the store windows and on the sales floor. You will also contribute to the profitability of the store with your merchandise handling, replenishment, and inventory control efforts.

Use this Visual Merchandising Associate job description to discover the responsibilities, qualifications, education, requirements and salary details about this position and what makes it such a popular retail career path.

Visual Merchandising Associate Duties & Responsibilities

This job requires candidates to be able to perform duties that include the following:

  • Researching current lifestyle and design trends to make sure designs will appeal to the store's target audience
  • Working with the design, buying, and marketing teams to develop themes and color schemes for displays such as Christmas, Easter, Valentine's Day, and sales or special promotions
  • Sketching out display designs and developing floor plans to maximize the space available
  • Sourcing necessary materials for displays such as props and lighting
  • installing and removing displays
  • Preparing visual merchandising sets or packs, including plans, posters, and photographs for other stores in the chain, so that all displays present a consistent image
  • Visiting branches to train and brief staff on how to consistently arrange displays

Visual Merchandising Associate Salary

The size and geographic location of the retail operation can affect the salary range available to you. The level at which you are hired, and your experience and credentials will influence your compensation as well.

Those working as visual merchandisers will receive the same benefits as any other store employee. Benefit packages generally include health insurance and generous discounts on store merchandise.

  • Median Annual Salary: $30,430 ($14.63/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $54,642 ($26.27/hour)
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: Less than $19,885 ($9.56/hour)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Education, Training & Certification

The visual merchandising associate position involves fulfilling education and training requirements as follows:

  • Education: Most retailers will want you to have a high school diploma before you will be given full-time responsibility for Visual Merchandising. Entry level Visual Merchandising positions may not require additional education, but advancement will probably require additional formal education in visual merchandising, marketing, or both.
  • Experience: Most retail operations will require you to have either retail experience or visual merchandising formal training for this position, and most will want to see your portfolio. Some of the largest retail chains will probably require both education and experience.
  • Training: If you have acquired on-the-job training or expertise, you may be able to obtain an entry-level Visual Merchandising job by demonstrating a thorough understanding of marketing principles and retail merchandising fundamentals. Supervisory experience may be necessary for a Visual Merchandising Associate position in a large store.

Visual Merchandising Associate Skills & Competencies

In addition to education and other requirements, candidates that possess the following skills may be able to perform more successfully in the job:

  • Organized: You'll excel if you have excellent organizational skills
  • Efficient: Good design work takes planning, project management, and time management expertise
  • Communication: You need excellent communication and interpersonal skills for this position to convey design ideas to your supervisor and others.
  • Design ability: A strong creative flair and effective problem-solving abilities will help you create stunning visual displays.
  • Computer knowledge: Stores will be willing to train you with their specific systems and software, but they will want you to bring a basic knowledge of computer functions with you into the position. A working knowledge of Microsoft Office will probably be required as well.

    Job Outlook

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not report specific job outlook information for the position of visual merchandising associate, it notes that merchandising displayers can expect slow job growth between 2016 and 2026. New jobs are expected to grow by 3%, or about 4,600 positions. This compares ot 7% growth for all occupations.

    Work Environment

    Because you will be responsible for creating and changing visual displays, you will need to be able to push, lift, and carry 30-50 pounds of merchandise and fixtures. The Visual Merchandising Associate position is physically demanding, and you can expect to be on your feet and walking for eight or more hours per day.

    Work Schedule

    Visual display work often occurs at times when it is the least disruptive to the sales floor and the customer experience. So Visual Merchandising Associates should be prepared to work early morning and late night hours, as well as weekends and holidays.

    How to Get the Job

    PREPARE

    Brush up your resume to highlight relevant skills and previous experience. Prepare your experience using ideas from this list of retail skills


    NETWORK

    You can network your way to a new job by attending events organized by various retail industry trade organizations. Check the Visual Merchandising and Store Design Associations online site to find visual display associations that appeal to you.


    APPLY

    Look at job-search resources like Indeed.com, Monster.com, and Glassdoor.com for available visual merchandising associate positions. You can also visit the websites of retail store chains and physical retail stores to apply to open job positions. Play up any useful experience that can help set you apart, such as coursework in design or artistic hobbies.

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