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Top 10 Merchandiser Certifications

This article provides an overview of the top certifications for merchandisers, including what they are, how to obtain them, and their benefits.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 16 min read

Certifications for a merchandiser are important in the job market because they provide evidence of professional knowledge and skills. They demonstrate that a merchandiser has the necessary training and expertise to perform their duties effectively, which can be an attractive quality to employers. Certifications also provide recognition from industry leaders and can help a merchandiser stand out from other applicants. Additionally, certifications can open up opportunities for advancement within the field and provide networking opportunities with other professionals.

This article reviews some of the top certifications for Merchandisers and explains how they can help to advance a merchandiser's career.

What are Merchandiser Certifications?

Merchandiser certification is a formal program designed to develop and assess the skills of individuals who work in the field of visual merchandising. This certification recognizes professionals who have achieved a certain level of expertise in merchandising, and provides them with opportunities to advance their career. It can help individuals gain a better understanding of the principles and techniques involved in creating effective visual displays, which can be used to attract customers and increase sales. Additionally, certified merchandisers are more likely to be considered for higher-level positions within the industry. Certification also sets an individual apart from others in the field by demonstrating their commitment to excellence and providing proof that they are knowledgeable about the latest trends and practices related to merchandising.

Pro Tip: When obtaining a Merchandiser Certification, make sure to research the certification requirements in detail and look into any available resources or courses that can help you understand the materials better. Additionally, always keep up-to-date on changes to applicable laws and regulations in order to stay compliant.

Related: What does a Merchandiser do?

Top 10 Merchandiser Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Merchandisers today.

1. Certified Professional Merchandiser (CPM)

Certified Professional Merchandiser (CPM) is a certification program designed to recognize professionals in the field of merchandising. This certification is offered by the International Association of Certified Professional Merchandisers (IACPM). The CPM designation is a way for individuals to demonstrate their knowledge and expertise in the field of merchandising.

To become a Certified Professional Merchandiser, an individual must complete an approved course of study that covers topics such as product selection, pricing strategies, visual merchandising, and customer service. Upon completion of the course, applicants must pass an exam administered by IACPM.

The length of time it takes to obtain the CPM certification varies depending on how quickly an individual completes the required coursework and passes the exam. Generally speaking, it can take anywhere from six months to one year to obtain this certification.

To get started on obtaining your CPM certification, you will need to find an accredited training provider that offers courses in merchandising. You can find these providers through IACPM’s website or by doing a simple online search. Once you have identified a provider, you will need to register for their courses and pay any associated fees.

The cost of obtaining your CPM certification depends on which training provider you choose and what type of course they offer. Generally speaking, most courses range from $500-$2,000 USD depending on how comprehensive they are. Additionally, there may be additional costs associated with taking the exam such as registration fees or travel expenses if you need to take it at a testing center outside your area.

2. Certified Visual Merchandiser (CVM)

Certified Visual Merchandiser (CVM) is a professional certification that demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of the principles and practices of visual merchandising. It is designed to recognize professionals who have achieved a high level of proficiency in the field and are committed to staying current with industry trends.

Getting certified as a CVM requires passing an exam administered by the International Visual Merchandising Association (IVMA). The exam covers topics such as product presentation, store layout, display design, customer service, marketing strategies, and retail operations. It takes approximately two hours to complete the exam and it must be taken at an IVMA-approved testing center.

The cost of taking the CVM exam varies depending on the country in which you take it. In the United States, it costs $200 for members of IVMA and $400 for non-members. Other countries may have different fees.

Once you pass the exam, you will receive your CVM certificate from IVMA. This certificate is valid for three years and must be renewed every three years in order to maintain your certification status.

3. Certified Retail Merchandiser (CRM)

A Certified Retail Merchandiser (CRM) is a professional certification that recognizes the expertise and knowledge of retail merchandisers. It is designed to help retail professionals demonstrate their commitment to excellence and stay ahead of industry trends. The CRM certification is administered by the National Retail Federation (NRF), the world’s largest retail trade association.

To become a Certified Retail Merchandiser, you must have at least three years of experience in retail merchandising or related fields, such as buying, planning, visual merchandising, store operations or marketing. You must also pass an exam that covers topics such as product knowledge, customer service, sales techniques and inventory management.

The CRM exam takes approximately four hours to complete and costs $400 USD. To get started, you can register online at NRF’s website or contact an NRF representative for more information. After registering for the exam, you will receive study materials and other resources to help you prepare for the test. Once you have completed the exam successfully, you will be awarded your CRM certification and can begin using it to demonstrate your skills in the retail industry.

4. Certified Apparel Merchandiser (CAM)

Certified Apparel Merchandiser (CAM) is a professional certification program for individuals in the apparel industry. It is designed to recognize those who have achieved a level of expertise in the field of apparel merchandising and marketing. The program focuses on the knowledge and skills needed to successfully manage an apparel business, including product development, sourcing, pricing, promotion, sales, distribution, and retailing.

The CAM program consists of three courses: Principles of Apparel Merchandising & Marketing; Advanced Apparel Merchandising & Marketing; and Professional Practices in Apparel Merchandising & Marketing. Each course is offered online or in person at various locations throughout the United States. The entire program typically takes between 8-12 months to complete depending on the student's availability and commitment to completing the coursework.

In order to become certified as an Apparel Merchandiser, applicants must pass all three courses with a grade of 70% or higher. Applicants must also submit a portfolio demonstrating their mastery of the material covered in each course. Once all requirements are met, applicants will receive their official CAM certificate from the American Association of Textile Chemists & Colorists (AATCC).

The cost for completing the Certified Apparel Merchandiser program varies depending on whether you choose to take it online or in person. Online courses typically range from $400-$600 per course while in-person courses may be more expensive due to additional fees associated with travel and lodging expenses.

5. Certified Retail Sales Professional (CRSP)

The Certified Retail Sales Professional (CRSP) is a professional certification program developed by the National Retail Federation (NRF). It is designed to recognize retail professionals who demonstrate excellence in customer service, product knowledge, and sales skills. The CRSP certification is an industry-recognized credential that provides retail professionals with the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to professionalism and excellence in the retail industry.

It takes approximately 3-5 months to complete the requirements for CRSP certification. To become certified, applicants must first attend an approved NRF training course and pass a written exam. After completing the course, applicants must submit an application for review by NRF staff and then take a final exam.

To apply for CRSP certification, applicants must provide proof of completion of an approved NRF training course, payment of all applicable fees, and submission of a completed application form. The cost of the certification varies depending on the type of training course taken and other factors such as location and length of time spent studying for the exam. Generally speaking, however, it costs between $500-$1,000 USD to become certified as a CRSP.

6. National Retail Federation Certification (NRF-C)

The National Retail Federation Certification (NRF-C) is a comprehensive program designed to recognize retail professionals who have achieved a high level of competency in the areas of retail operations, customer service, and business management. The NRF-C was developed by the National Retail Federation (NRF), the world’s largest retail trade association.

In order to receive the NRF-C certification, candidates must complete an online course and pass a final exam. The online course consists of five modules that cover topics such as store operations, customer service, sales and marketing, financial management, and technology. Each module includes interactive activities and quizzes that allow candidates to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the material.

It typically takes about four weeks for candidates to complete the program. Candidates must also submit a completed application form with their resume and pay an application fee of $150 before they can take the final exam.

Once they have successfully passed the exam, candidates will receive their NRF-C certification. This certification is valid for three years from the date it is issued. After three years, certified individuals must renew their certification by completing additional coursework or attending seminars related to retail operations and customer service.

7. Certified Store Manager (CSM)

Certified Store Manager (CSM) is a professional certification program offered by the National Retail Federation (NRF). It is designed to recognize and validate the skills of retail store managers. The certification is intended to demonstrate that a store manager has the knowledge and skills necessary to lead, manage, and motivate their team in order to achieve success.

The CSM program requires applicants to complete an online application and assessment, as well as a series of courses and exams. The program consists of four courses: Retail Management Fundamentals, Leadership & People Management, Financial Management & Analysis, and Merchandising & Operations. Each course must be completed within six months of enrollment in the program.

The cost for the CSM program varies depending on the number of courses taken. The full program costs $1,495 USD for all four courses, or $395 USD per course. There are also discounts available for NRF members and students enrolled in college or university programs.

Once all four courses have been completed successfully, applicants will receive their Certified Store Manager certificate from NRF. This certificate is valid for two years and can be renewed by completing additional courses or attending NRF-sponsored events.

8. Global Professional in Merchandising Management (GPMM)

Global Professional in Merchandising Management (GPMM) is a certification program offered by the International Textile and Apparel Association (ITAA). It is designed to recognize individuals who have achieved a high level of professional excellence in the field of merchandising management. The GPMM certification is intended to demonstrate an individual’s commitment to developing their knowledge and skills in the areas of product development, marketing, retailing, consumer behavior, and global business strategies.

The GPMM program consists of four core courses: Global Merchandising Strategies, Product Development & Management, Marketing & Retailing Strategies, and Consumer Behavior & Business Strategies. Each course requires a minimum of 30 hours of study time. Upon successful completion of all four courses and passing the final exam, individuals are awarded the GPMM designation.

To be eligible for the GPMM program, individuals must have at least three years of professional experience in merchandising management or a related field. They must also be current members of ITAA or become members prior to enrolling in the program.

The cost for the GPMM program varies depending on whether you choose to take all four courses at once or one course at a time. Taking all four courses at once costs $1,500 plus applicable taxes; taking one course at a time costs $400 plus applicable taxes per course.

Overall, it takes approximately six months to complete all four courses and obtain your GPMM designation if you are taking one course at a time. However, if you choose to take all four courses simultaneously it can take as little as two months to complete them and receive your certification.

9. International Council of Shopping Centers' Accredited Professional Designation (APDC)

The International Council of Shopping Centers' Accredited Professional Designation (APDC) is a professional designation that recognizes individuals who have achieved excellence in the field of shopping center design and development. The APDC provides a comprehensive program for professionals to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and experience in the field.

To obtain the APDC designation, applicants must complete an application process that includes an online assessment and a written exam. Applicants must also have at least five years of experience in the shopping center design and development industry. The process typically takes three to six months to complete.

The cost of obtaining the APDC designation is $1,000 USD. This fee covers the cost of the online assessment and written exam as well as administrative costs associated with processing applications and issuing certificates. Additionally, applicants must pay an annual fee of $100 USD to maintain their APDC status.

10. American Marketing Association's Digital Marketing Certificate Program

The American Marketing Association's Digital Marketing Certificate Program is a comprehensive program designed to help professionals develop their digital marketing skills. The program consists of four courses that cover the fundamentals of digital marketing, from understanding consumer behavior and leveraging analytics to creating effective campaigns and managing online channels. Each course is self-paced, allowing participants to complete them at their own speed.

The program typically takes about six months to complete, although some participants may finish in less time depending on their prior knowledge and experience. To get started, participants must register for the program on the AMA website. Once they have completed registration, they will be given access to the four courses which can be taken in any order.

The cost of the Digital Marketing Certificate Program is $1,299 USD. This includes access to all four courses as well as an exam voucher that can be used to take the final exam upon completion of the program.

Do You Really Need a Merchandiser Certificate?

When it comes to a career in merchandising, there is no single answer as to whether or not you need a merchandiser certificate. The decision largely depends on the type of job you are looking for, and what level of experience and education you have.

For entry-level positions, such as sales associate or cashier, a merchandiser certificate is typically not required. However, more advanced positions such as visual merchandiser may require this certification. In addition to providing evidence of your knowledge and training in the field of retail merchandising, having a certificate can make you stand out from other applicants and give you an advantage over those without one.

For those who want to pursue higher-level roles in the field of retail management or buying, having a merchandiser certificate can be beneficial. It can demonstrate to employers that you have the necessary skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the role. Additionally, some employers may prefer candidates with a formal education in retail merchandising or may even require it for certain positions. Having a certificate in this area can also open up additional opportunities for promotions and advancement within your organization.

Ultimately, whether or not you need a merchandiser certificate will depend on your individual goals and preferences. If you are just starting out in the industry and do not plan to pursue higher-level positions then it may not be necessary; however if you are looking for more advanced roles then having this certification could give you an edge over other applicants.

Related: Merchandiser Resume Examples

FAQs About Merchandiser Certifications

1. What is a Merchandiser Certification?

Answer: A Merchandiser Certification is a professional credential that demonstrates a person's knowledge and skills in the field of merchandising. It is designed to show employers that the individual has the necessary qualifications to work effectively in this industry.

2. How do I become certified as a Merchandiser?

Answer: To become certified as a merchandiser, you must complete an accredited program or course in merchandising, such as those offered by universities or professional organizations. You may also need to pass an exam and/or complete specific on-the-job training requirements.

3. What are the benefits of becoming certified as a Merchandiser?

Answer: Becoming certified as a merchandiser can provide many benefits, including increased job security, higher wages, greater career opportunities, and recognition for your expertise in the field. Additionally, certification can help you stay up-to-date with new trends and technologies within the industry.

4. What types of jobs can I get with a Merchandiser Certification?

Answer: With a Merchandiser Certification, you may be eligible for positions such as store manager, visual merchandiser, product manager, buying director, sales associate, or marketing specialist.

5. How long does it take to get certified as a Merchandiser?

Answer: The amount of time it takes to become certified as a merchandiser depends on your experience level and the type of program or course you choose to pursue. Generally speaking, most programs can be completed within one year or less if taken full-time.