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Degree Overview: Associate of Arts (A.A.) Degree in Retail Merchandising

Majors Overview October 31, 2013

Associate of Retail merchandising programs trains’ students on business concepts and the importance of sales. Although some retail merchandising employers expect a bachelor’s or master’s degree, an A.A. in retail merchandising can open up the doors to careers in many industries.

A.A. Programs in Retail Merchandising

Students enrolled in Associate’s degree programs in Retail Merchandising are taught about effective buying techniques, marketing and aesthetics. Program coursework covers various disciplines such as management, supervision and business. Retail establishments rely on retail merchandisers who select products and devise marketing strategies for these organizations. Design, organizational and promotional skills are necessary attributes for individuals who seek to become successful retail merchandisers who perform managerial roles and help in evaluating potential deals. Internships are offered in some programs whereby students work in a retail environment supervised by experienced professionals. Admission criteria in Associate’s Degree Programs in Retail Merchandising typically require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma.

Coursework Topic Areas

The retail merchandising program Coursework focuses extensively on the buying and selling process. Core coursework is augmented by communications, business math and computer skills. These topics may include:

•Business law
•Accounting
•Selling techniques
•Customer service
•Supervision principles
•Distribution principles
•Buying methods

Career Choices

Retail merchandisers can seek entry-level occupations in both the private and public sectors. These professionals are commonly employed by manufacturing industries, farming companies, hospitals and government organizations (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). They can also contract with larger companies who outsource their services. These professionals can choose from various career options such as:

•Buyer
•Wholesale buyer
•Purchasing manager
•Procurement specialist
•Purchasing agent

Continuing Education Choices

Seeking voluntary professional certifications can benefit retail merchandisers by attracting high-paying job givers. Certifying organizations offer credentials related to specific industries or concentrations within retail merchandizing. The Certified Professional in Supply Management certification is offered by the Institute for Supply Management. The Certified Professional Purchasing Manager and the Certified Purchasing Professional designations are offered by the American Purchasing Society.

Most credentials are offered to individuals who satisfy minimum experience or education requirements and pass a certifying exam. Once they obtain certification, such credentials have to be maintained through continuing education. Some job givers seek bachelor degree holders while hirers for management positions prefer master’s degree holders.

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