Skip to Main content

Retail/Merchandising Major Careers

Manager of Product Specialists and Product Development Coordinators Job Description

Video By:

Retail/Merchandising Career Information




  • Product Development
  • Planning and Allocation
  • Discount stores
  • Mass merchants
  • Grocery stores
  • Specialty stores (e.g., clothing, home furnishings, jewelry, books, electronics, etc.)
  • Department stores
  • Grocery stores
  • Pharmacy retailers
  • Obtain sales and retail experience through part-time jobs and internships.
  • Prepare to work under pressure in fast-paced environments.
  • Develop organizational skills and attention to detail to monitor inventory and compare products, prices and markets.
  • Acquire analytical and mathematical skills to operate within a budget and to evaluate sales data including competitors’.
  • Develop excellent interpersonal and communication skills for negotiating with vendors.
  • Be prepared to travel frequently in order to visit markets and search for new merchandise.
  • Expect to work with overseas suppliers. Knowledge of languages, customs and cultures will be helpful.
  • Develop a competitive drive with the understanding that a buyer’s goal is to beat the sales and profit records of the previous year.
  • Be prepared to begin as a buyer trainee. Training periods can range from 1 to 5 years.


  • Industrial
  • Wholesale
  • Direct Marketing
  • Consumer Product
  • Financial Services
  • Services
  • Advertising
  • E-commerce
  • Customer Service
  • Profit and non-profit organizations
  • Product and service organizations
  • Manufacturers
  • Financial companies
  • Insurance companies
  • Print and electronic media outlets
  • Software and technology companies
  • Retail stores
  • Obtain a part-time job or internship in sales to gain experience, as these positions are often stepping stones to higher-level positions.
  • Demonstrate initiative, organization and problem solving skills.
  • Enjoy working with people.
  • A commitment to customer satisfaction is imperative.
  • Learn to communicate effectively with a wide-range of people. Take additional courses in interpersonal communication and public speaking.
  • Develop persuasion skills and extensive knowledge of merchandise for sale.
  • Cultivate a competitive drive to reach sales quotas and break sales records under pressure.


  • Corporate
  • Regional
  • Store
  • Store Assistant
  • Store Department
  • Discount stores
  • Mass merchants
  • Grocery stores
  • Specialty stores
  • Dealerships
  • Department stores
  • Grocery stores
  • Pharmacy retailers
  • Seek retail experience through internships or part-time jobs.
  • Get involved in student organizations and seek leadership roles.
  • Be prepared to start in entry-level management trainee positions.
  • Learn to work well on a team and to motivate and direct others.
  • Develop quick decision-making, problem solving skills and communication skills to assist customers, manage employees, monitor promotions and sales goals and work with buyers.
  • Excellent organizational skills are necessary to oversee the daily operations of a store or a department.
  • Plan to work long and/or irregular hours, including holidays.

Human Resources

  • Recruiting/Staffing
  • Compensation
  • Benefits
  • Orientation/Training
  • Safety/Health
  • Employee Relations
  • Employee Services
  • Discount stores
  • Mass merchants
  • Grocery stores
  • Specialty stores
  • Department stores
  • Grocery stores
  • Pharmacy retailers
  • Supplement degree program with classes in psychology, sociology and human resource development.
  • Gain relevant experience through internships.
  • Develop strong verbal and written communication skills.
  • Learn to solve problems creatively, and build conflict resolution skills.
  • Develop strong computer skills, as many human resource systems are automated.
  • Join the Society of Human Resource Management and other related professional associations.
  • Seek endorsements such as the Professional Human Resource Certification (PHR).
  • Earn a master’s degree for career advancement or a law degree for employment law.

Small Business

  • Ownership
  • Independent Consulting
  • Self-employed
  • Companies that utilize independent consultants (e.g., Mary Kay Cosmetics, Tupperware)
  • Entrepreneurial spirit, including self-discipline and perseverance, are keys to success.
  • Develop an excellent knowledge of and belief in a particular product or service.
  • Supplement program with courses in accounting, advertising or computers.
  • Obtain extensive sales and business experience by working for a company or retailer in a related product area before launching a small business.
  • Build relationships with potential investors and customers.

Visual Merchandising

  • Department stores
  • Specialty stores
  • Demonstrate creativity and knowledge of design concepts (lighting, color, etc.); knowledge of fashion and sales trends is also helpful.
  • Seek retail sales experience and plan to shadow or intern with a visual merchandiser.
  • Supplement degree with courses on buying behavior, consumer psychology, interior design, art, fashion design and/or interior decorating.
  • Develop mechanical aptitude to set up displays, build props and adjust lighting.

Non-Store Retailing

  • E-commerce
  • Direct Marketing
  • Catalog:
    • Sales, Management, Fulfillment/Distribution, Production
  • E-tail companies (e.g.,,
  • internet retailers (e.g., Spiegel, JC Penney)
  • Home shopping networks
  • Advertising agencies
  • Magazine, book and record companies
  • internet marketing companies
  • Supplement program with courses in marketing, advertising or communications.
  • Obtain sales experience through a retail or telemarketing position.
  • Develop strong computer skills.

General Information and Strategies


* = Recommended Sites

© 1992 - 2009 The University of Tennessee