He graduated magna cum laude from N.P. Ogarev Mordovian State University in 1973, as an electronics engineer.
1986 – First Secretary, Tengushevo District Committee of the CPSU.
In January 1995, he took up the post of Chairman of the State Assembly of the Republic of Mordovia.
On 22 September 1995 he was elected Head of the Republic of Mordovia.
In 2003, once more he became Head of the Republic of Mordovia. On 10 November 2005, upon the recommendation of the RF President he elected by the State Assembly of the Republic of Mordovia to the office of Head of the Republic of Mordovia for the 3rd time.
On 10 November 2010 he again took up the office of Head of Mordovia.
On 12 May 2012 he entered upon the office of Governor of the Samara Region.
From 1995 to 2001 he represented the Republic of Mordovia in the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, was Chairman of the Commission for Standing Order and Parliamentary Procedure and Vice-chairman of the Committee on Economic Policy Matters. Represented the Russian Federation in the Council of Europe as a member of the Russian governors group.
At present – Member, State Council of the Russian Federation; Head, Commission for Agro-industrial Complex Development and Social Reconstruction of Rural Areas; Member, Presidium of the Physical Culture and Sport Council under the President of the Russian Federation.
In January 2006, by the edict of the RF President, he was appointed Deputy Head of the Interdepartmental Working Party attached to the Council for Implementation of the Top-priority National Project “Agro-industrial Complex Development” under the President of the Russian Federation. In April 2008, by the decree of the Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation he was included in the Government Commission for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Development.
Member, Bureau of the Supreme Council, All-Russian Political Party United Russia. He is decorated with the Orders of the Red Banner of Labor and Peoples’ Friendship, Medals For Labor Valor and For Transformation of the Nonblack Earth Belt of the RSFSR.
Member of the Russian Informatization Academy.
In 2000, for great contribution to the region social and economic development and conscientious work of many years, he was decorated with the Order of Merit for the Fatherland of IV class.
In 2009, he was decorated with the Order of Merit for the Fatherland of III class.
He was decorated with the Orders of the Russian Orthodox Church: of Faithful Prince Daniel of Moscow of II class, Saint Grand Prince Vladimir Equal to the Apostles of II class, Blessed Sergius of Radonezh of II and I class.
He was decorated with a number of public awards, including the Order of Peter the Great of I class.
In 2001 he was named Man of the Year for successes in the economy development. In 2002, the Russian Biographical Institute named Nikolay Merkishkin Man of the Year among the best seven governors of Russia.