Business Administration

Want to Work at Patagonia? Here Are the Degrees You’ll Need.

Want to Work at Patagonia? Here Are the Degrees You’ll Need.
Patagonia knows that the better they treat their employees, the happier and more productive they’ll be. Image from Unsplash
Mairead Kelly profile
Mairead Kelly January 23, 2020

Candidates should have a plan of action to support causes surrounding the environmental crisis, and ideally be doing something about it already.

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“No young kid growing up dreams of someday becoming a businessman. He wants to be a fireman, a sponsored athlete or a forest ranger,” writes Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard in his autobiography, Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman. “The Lee Iacoccas, Donald Trumps, and Jack Welchs of the business world are heroes to no one except other businessmen with similar values,” he continues.

Long story short, Chouinard did become a businessman—and an industry icon at that. Today, the outdoor and adventure-wear brand he founded in 1973 holds the title of the world’s ultimate do-good-and-do-well company.

As Patagonia has spent nearly half a century growing into a billion-dollar global brand, Chouinard and his company have put equal time and millions of dollars toward the fight for environmental causes around the globe while investing in increasingly more sustainable business practices.

The apparel company has also embraced and promoted the B Corporation movement, while Chouinard led efforts like 1% for the Planet, a collective of companies that pledged to donate 1 percent of sales to environmental groups and has raised more than $225 million since 2002.

What’s more, Patagonia knows that the better they treat their employees, the happier and more productive they’ll be. Most days, Patagonia employees leave the company’s Ventura, California headquarters at lunchtime to go surfing for two hours, while a half-dozen others take a 27-mile bike loop in the hills overlooking the Pacific.

Four days a week, the company offers yoga and Pilates sessions, and occasional fly fishing classes. Once a year, Patagonia allows 40 employees to take paid two-month internships with an environmental group. And year round, they permit eight weeks of paid maternity and paternity leave and cover 100% of insurance premiums for both full- and part-time workers.

With all this in mind, it’s not at all surprising that the outdoor-outfitter has landed on a wide range of “best workplace” lists over the years. In 2019 alone, they managed #100 in Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For, #7 in PEOPLE Companies that Care, #8 in Best Workplaces in Retail (Large Companies), and #94 in Best Workplaces for Diversity, Fortune Profile.

Want to work at Patagonia? If so, you’ll need to prove yourself in both a professional and personal sense. Before that, learn more about the company’s slightly non-traditional hiring process—and some of the degrees that can help you get your hiking boot-clad foot in the door.

A Bird’s-Eye View of Patagonia

An avid rock climber, Chouinard launched his namesake climbing gear outfit, Chouinard Equipment, when he was just 19 years old. The enterprise took shape when Chouinard was so frustrated with European climbing spikes that he created his own, teaching himself blacksmithing skills along the way. In the early days, he would tow his anvil with him up and down the West Coast, peddling his products as he climbed and surfed. By 1970, Chouinard Equipment was the largest supplier of climbing equipment in the U.S.

As his climbing equipment gained a following, Chouinard grew interested in apparel’s ability to improve the climbing experience. With the discovery that his fellow climbers liked the breathable material of rugby shirts in the early 1970s, he started importing them and other items that could provide comfort while absorbing moisture to sell to his peers. Demand was so high that he started designing clothing of his own—and here, Patagonia was born.

Patagonia now has an estimated 2,262 employees working at its Ventura headquarters, as well as at offices in Sausalito, California, Reno, Nevada, and a number of retail stores across the U.S. Today, Forbes values Patagonia (which Chouinard owns outright) at a projected $1.2 billion.


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Working at Patagonia

Patagonia employees work within teams across a range of departments, including product design, sportswear sales, and digital strategy.

According to PayScale, the average salary for Patagonia employees at the company’s California headquarters is $87,000 per year. This pay is significantly higher than the average employee salary at competitor companies’ headquarters like Columbia Sportswear, which offers an average of $63,000 per year, and L.L Bean, which offers an average of $50,000.

Some of the highest-paid jobs at Patagonia include the following, listed by average base salary:

  • Technical Product Line Director: $157,000 – $170,000
  • IT Director: $156,000 – $166,000
  • Product Manager: $155,000 – $171,000
  • Senior Solutions Architect: $145,000 – $158,000
  • Solutions Architect: $137,000 – $149,000
  • Director: $127,000 – $136,000
  • Product Development Manager: $108,000 – $115,000
  • Planning Manager: $105,000 – $113,000
  • Human Resources Business Partner: $95,000 – $102,000

Want to Work at Patagonia? Here Are the Degrees You’ll Need.

A closer look at Patagonia’s job site indicates various open positions in areas such as global merchandising, marketing, eCommerce, and information technology.

Global merchandising jobs at Patagonia

In the global merchandising space, Patagonia is looking for product line managers, associate product line managers, as well as category sales leads. In any of these roles, you’ll combine your intuition for fashion trends and consumer needs, and a shrewd understanding of business management, to bring Patagonia’s vision to life in all retail environments—from in-store to online.

In global merchandising roles, a bachelor’s degree in business, fashion merchandising, or a related field will equip you with the necessary skills for the job. A master’s of business administration (MBA) degree is sometimes preferred, but not required.

Marketing jobs at Patagonia

The company is also accepting applications for a wholesale regional marketing coordinator, digital communications and community engagement – workwear position, marketing – sportswear position, as well as positions that focus on community content engagement in the “trail” and “climb” areas of their market.

Degrees in marketing, communications, or a business-related field are all feasible paths to gain the necessary training to pursue Patagonia’s openings in the digital, community engagement, and marketing sphere.

The company’s wholesale regional marketing coordinator doesn’t call out a degree requirement but does note a need for experience in marketing and event development, visual merchandising, wholesale, and project management.

eCommerce jobs at Patagonia

When it comes to online retailing, Patagonia has space to fill in the areas of digital merchandise support, eCommerce merchandising and marketing management, digital strategy, and email marketing.

Half of the job opportunities within this department only list a college degree when referencing educational requirements. However, management openings in this area may benefit from a master’s degree in marketing, marketing analytics, merchandise management, or a related field.

Information technology jobs at Patagonia

With the IT and information security realm comes opportunities in enterprise resource planning, as well as IT analytics in the areas of business operations, IT systems, and finance and accounting. The company also has listings for a senior software developer and master data management lead.

Job seekers interested in enterprise resource planning will need a bachelor’s degree with a focus on business administration or computer science, while IT analytics candidates will benefit from postgraduates degrees like a master of science in business analytics, an MBA with a concentration in information systems, or a master’s in information technology.

Other degrees that would give you a competitive edge in this domain include a master’s in software engineering, information services, and data management.

Other Paths to Become a “Patagoniac”: Internships at Patagonia

Every summer, Patagonia offers college students the chance to pursue internships in a variety of departments throughout the company. These 12-week paid positions allow students to learn the ins and outs of jobs that include product development, finance, material sciences, and marketing—and offer an inside look at the company’s unique corporate culture.

Internship opportunities differ every year, and are available at Patagonia’s headquarters, Patagonia Provisions in Sausalito, and Patagonia’s Service Center in Reno.

Help Save the Planet at Patagonia

In a 2012 interview with AOL, former Patagonia PR manager Jess Clayton says, “We’re kind of a tribe here. People have been here for a long time. We want to hear: What is it about Patagonia that you like?”

The interview process can happen one-on-one or with a panel of up to ten people, during which interviewers want to get a sense of a candidate beyond their work and what Clayton calls, “job stuff.” Ultimately, it’s about figuring out what they love and what their passions are.

Clayton also stresses that candidates should have a plan of action to support causes surrounding the environmental crisis, and ideally be doing something about it already. It’s also typical for interviewees to field questions about important environmental issues in their area.

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About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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