6 Online Degree Programs Available in Fashion, Retail & Merchandising

Earning an Online Fashion Merchandising Degree

Fashion doesn't start on the runway, in a retail shop or even in a manufacturing facility. It starts in the minds of the most knowledgeable fashionistas. There are brilliant people in charge of designing next season's most stylish apparel, but informed store owners and style professionals have to decide what... looks will be the hottest trends months in advance. From there, they put their resources on the line to purchase these goods and hope for the best when customers flock in.

For many, becoming a fashion expert doesn't come naturally. It takes hard work, a tremendous amount of studying and a keen eye. More than that, becoming an accomplished professional in retail and merchandising requires more learning and care. The stakes are higher when you're purchasing inventory and using company funds to find products that will sell the best due to consumer behaviors. Luckily, studying retail, merchandising and fashion may give you a general overview of style history, basic retail market trends and can teach you about the best way to market your products to potential clients.

A glimpse into the realm of fashion, retail and merchandising
The fashion industry is filled with aspiring Calvin Kleins and Coco Chanels, and the competition can be very difficult to overcome. Only the most accomplished and highly qualified individuals may be able to stand out in the future of fashion design as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the employment of fashion designers will decline in coming years.[i] However, this does not mean other areas of the fashion industry are decreasing in size. Fashion professionals are still needed in retail shops to inform managers about upcoming trends and lucrative supply options. These professionals are expected to know what is going to be the next big style trend well in advance. Sometimes, they may be expected to know months in advance to predict seasonal trends and stock accordingly.

Possible salaries for a career in fashion, retail and merchandising
Your salary as a fashion, retail and merchandising professional is largely decided by your specific job title, your responsibilities and your ability to predict trends and invest in popular apparel. Consider the following careers, with statistics compiled by the BLS in 2012.

  • Fashion designers: 2012 Median annual salary of $62,860 (-3 percent projected growth through 2022)[i]
  • Models: 2012 Median annual salary of $18,750 (15 percent projected growth through 2022)[ii]
  • Retail sales workers: 2012 Median annual salary of $21,410 (10 percent projected growth through 2022)[iii]

Additional skills important for a career in fashion, retail and merchandising
While studying fashion trends, history and style may be the most important part of a career in this field, customer service and consumer analysis is also critical. The fashion industry depends on the style choices made by A-list celebrities and the average consumer. Analyzing those trends can give you a notable advantage against the competition. Moreover, maintaining a cordial and friendly attitude with all of your prospective clients is also necessary to running an effective retail business.


[i] bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/fashion-designers.htm
[ii] bls.gov/ooh/sales/models.htm
[iii] bls.gov/ooh/sales/retail-sales-workers.htm

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