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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.

  • Avg. Salary N/A
  • Avg. Wage N/A
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Lower
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: Exhibit Designers (5243.3) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Theatre, Fashion, Exhibit and Other Creative Designers (F143) 
  • 2011 NOC: Theatre, fashion, exhibit and other creative designers (5243) 
  • 2016 NOC: Theatre, fashion, exhibit and other creative designers (5243) 
Interest Codes
The Visual Merchandiser is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Exhibit Designers

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


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


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

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 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 More

Updated Mar 31, 2019

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 co-ordinate clothes racks and counter displays
  • Work as part of a merchandising team, which may include advertising and promotion staff
  • Attend training sessions and corporate planning meetings to get new ideas for fall and spring launches

They also may:

  • Prepare floorplans to scale
  • Co-ordinate 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 be aware of the store’s layout in intimate detail. 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 is responsible for the overall look and colour flow of displays. The other is in charge of maintaining window and other displays from day to day.

Displays usually are planned two to four weeks in advance to co-ordinate with special promotions and advertising campaigns. Large companies or chains most often provide signage and prop packages for merchandisers who work exclusively for them. Products may be specified for display and guidelines usually are tight. This ensures store presentations are uniform throughout the company.

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

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2019

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. Peak times vary depending on the store’s target audience. For example, back-to-school time may be busy for a children’s store. A jewellery store may be busier at Valentine’s Day.

Lifting heavier items and climbing ladders routinely is required.

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

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Visual merchandisers need:

  • Artistic ability and imagination
  • Fashion sense
  • 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.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Visual merchandisers may acquire 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.

Artists Within Makeup Academy

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019

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

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Visual merchandisers work for:

  • Department stores and retail chains
  • Media promotion companies
  • Independent display companies
  • Fashion show co-ordinators
  • 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.

Visual Merchandisers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 5243: Theatre, Fashion, Exhibit and Other Creative Designers. In Alberta, 75% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook (pdf) in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • Size of the occupation

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

In Alberta, the 5243: Theatre, fashion, exhibit and other creative designers occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 0% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 0 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Visual merchandisers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 5243: Theatre, fashion, exhibit and other creative designers.

According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Theatre, fashion, exhibit and other creative designers occupational group earned on average from $17.89 to $25.47 an hour. The overall average was $21.04 an hour. More recent data is not available.

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

Updated Mar 31, 2019. 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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