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How to Start a Career in Visual Merchandising

Doris Benitez
Reading time: 3 min

Being a visual merchandiser is about much more than creating eye-catching displays, though that is one of the most alluring parts of the job. There are other duties that go along with the job and you should have some training and experience before you can find the job of your dreams. That may be for an independent boutique or could be for a large chain of department stores.

Job Basics

• Entry salary: £12,000 to £16,000 per year
• Experienced salary: £20,000 to £25,000 per year
• Highly experienced: £25,000 to £55,000 per year
• Average hours: 37 to 40 hours per week

What’s Involved in this Job?

This isn’t an entirely comprehensive list but outlines the most common job duties of a visual merchandiser. Depending on where you work, there may be additional responsibilities that will be part of your job description.

• Design store floor plans and displays or follow plans from an authority
• Draw plans or design them using a computer
• Make creative use of space and lighting
• Source materials, including models, props, equipment and signs
• Dress dummies and arrange store displays
• Coach and mentor sales staff in how to display merchandise
• Create brand guidelines so all stores look and feel the same
• Travel to different stores to implement designs and ideas

What Qualities Should I Have?

There are several skills and qualities you should possess to be successful as a visual merchandiser. There are no set entry requirements, but you’ll likely be most successful if you have some sales or retail experience. Art skills are also handy on the job as is being able to visualise and carry out the plans you want to make.
• Imagination
• Creativity
• Drawing skills
• Design skills
• IT and computer skills
• Attention to detail
• Organisation
• Ability to perform heavy lifting and climbing

How do You Become Qualified?

As mentioned above, there are not set requirements for this job, but you should possess some art, creativity and imagination skills. Retail and sales experience is also a helpful thing to have under your belt. You’ll need to understand what drives sales and how people respond to visual displays. The best way to get a job as a visual merchandiser is to find an apprenticeship. This enables you to work with experienced staff who already understand the job, gain on the job skills and enroll in classes specific to the occupation. You’ll also be able to earn some money as you work toward your own position. Search local visual merchandiser companies in your area and ask if they are offering any apprenticeships. This is also a great way to network with companies you might be hired to work for when your training is finished.

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