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Visual Merchandiser

Visual merchandisers capture consumers’ attention through the placement of merchandise, signage, and interior displays in retail stores and shopping malls.

Also Known As

Display Designer, Merchandise Presentation Specialist, Visual Presentation Specialist

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used.

Here is how this occupation has been classified over time.

2006 NOC

  • 5243.3: Exhibit Designers

2006 NOC-S

  • F143: Theatre, Fashion, Exhibit and Other Creative Designers

2011 NOC

  • 5243: Theatre, fashion, exhibit and other creative designers

2016 NOC

  • 5243: Theatre, fashion, exhibit and other creative designers

2021 NOC

  • 64100: Retail salespersons and visual merchandisers

2023 OaSIS

  • 64100.02: Visual merchandisers
Duties
Updated Mar 27, 2023

Most visual merchandisers work for large department stores and retail chains. Their responsibilities and position titles vary from one employer to another. In general, they:

  • Arrange showcases, clothes racks, counters, and display fixtures
  • Design lighting and colour range of merchandise
  • Teach sales staff how to colour-coordinate clothing racks, fold items properly, and create counter displays
  • Work as part of a merchandising team, which may include advertising and promotion staff
  • Dress interior and window mannequins
  • Attend training sessions and corporate planning meetings to get new ideas for fall and spring launches

They also may:

  • Prepare floorplans to scale
  • Coordinate construction contractors for major floor changes
  • Unpack, sort, and tag incoming merchandise for display
  • Monitor the condition of products on display
  • Oversee the general cleanliness of the store inside and out
  • Track rates of sale on the commodities they display
  • Design planograms (diagrams or models showing the placement of products) based on store size and stock

Visual merchandisers must become intimately aware of the store’s layout. Frequent shifts of large quantities of merchandise require merchandisers to solve problems and anticipate customers’ needs.

Some organizations have two levels of visual merchandising. One takes charge of the overall look and colour flow of displays. The other maintains window and other displays from day to day.

Visual merchandisers usually plan displays two to four weeks before they’re needed. This allows them to prepare for the arrival of new merchandise and coordinate displays with special promotions and advertising campaigns. Large companies or chains most often provide signage and prop packages for merchandisers who work exclusively for them. Specific products may be chosen for displays that will be created according to tight guidelines. This ensures the uniformity of store presentations throughout the company.

Freelance merchandisers who work for smaller chains and independent stores may work with fewer or less stringent guidelines. Some do everything from building props to producing signage with computers.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 27, 2023
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

Visual merchandisers ensure stores present a strong corporate image that appeals to their target market. Due to constant changes in the retail and fashion market, they must work under tight deadlines. Sometimes merchandising is done outside of business operating hours, such as early morning or late evening. Peak seasons vary depending on the store’s target audience. For example, back-to-school season may be busy for a children’s store. A jewellery or lingerie store may be busier leading up to Valentine’s Day.

Lifting heavier items, using assembly tools, and climbing ladders routinely is required.

Some visual merchandisers travel from store to store, either as employees of retail chains or as freelancers.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Exhibit Designers

2006 NOC: 5243.3

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
INNOVATIVE

Interest in synthesizing information to develop new ideas and esthetic and practical solutions to meet customers' requirements; and in planning and developing permanent and temporary or moveable exhibits and displays for museum exhibitions, trade shows, conventions, retail spaces and for other exhibitions

METHODICAL

Interest in precision working with drafting equipment and computer-aided design (CAD) software to prepare final designs; and in submitting designs to supervisors and clients for approval

DIRECTIVE

Interest in speaking to direct workers who are erecting displays, making working drawings and models of displays, and positioning spotlights, coloured lighting and other illumination; and in evaluating information regarding developments in materials and styles

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 27, 2023

Visual merchandisers need:

  • Artistic ability and imagination
  • Fashion sense
  • The ability to tap into what appeals to a particular customer type
  • Attention to detail
  • The ability to visualize in 3D
  • Problem-solving and communication skills
  • The ability to work independently and on a team
  • Confidence in their ideas, and flexibility to accept other people’s suggestions
  • Understanding of basic floor plans and planograms

They should enjoy synthesizing information to develop new ideas and find practical solutions to problems. They should like taking a methodical approach to precision tasks. They should be comfortable directing the work of others.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Theatre, fashion, exhibit and other creative designers

2016 NOC: 5243

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 42 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Feb 02, 2022 and Jul 15, 2024.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Tasks: Exhibit designers plan and develop permanent and temporary or moveable exhibits and displays for museum exhibitions, trade shows, conventions, retail spaces and other exhibitions
Tasks: Fashion designers design and create clothing and accessories for men, women and children
Construction Specialization: Reliability
Attention to detail
Tasks: Theatre designers design and create settings, scenic environments, properties, costumes and lighting for theatre, film and video productions, operas and ballets
Construction Specialization: Team player
Construction Specialization: Organized
Women's clothing
Construction Specialization: Dependability
Men's clothing
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 27, 2023
  • Minimum Education Varies

Visual merchandisers may be taught the knowledge and skills they need by:

  • Working with established merchandisers who are willing to share their time, knowledge, and experience
  • Working in related fields such as set design or interior decoration (for more information, see the Set Designer and Interior Decorator occupational profiles)
  • Taking related post-secondary education

Most employers prefer to hire applicants with related post-secondary education.

Art and design programs are offered by post-secondary schools throughout Alberta.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 27, 2023
  • Certification Not Regulated

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 27, 2023

Visual merchandisers work for:

  • Department stores and retail chains
  • Media promotion companies
  • Independent display companies
  • Fashion show coordinators
  • Shopping mall owners
  • Marketing and media firms

Experienced merchandisers who work for large retail stores may advance to senior designer positions. Further advancement opportunities are limited.

Most self-employed display designers establish themselves in the profession before trying to freelance.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 5243: Theatre, fashion, exhibit and other creative designers occupational group, 81.9% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 5243: Theatre, fashion, exhibit and other creative designers occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 2.1% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 13 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Related Alberta Job Postings
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Business, Management and Administrative Studies
  • Communications
  • Fine Arts and Performing Arts

Updated Mar 27, 2023. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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