Finding Careers in the Fashion Industry

The vibrant, ever-changing fashion industry is always looking for brilliant minds with an idea of what comes next in design and merchandising. Could you be that visionary voice? What does the future hold for jobs in the fashion industry?

Check out some of the top fashion industry jobs, and learn what you can do to work your way into one of these exciting careers.

Fashion & Retail Management

If you love fashion and you’ve always wanted to own your own business, a degree in retail management could be right up your alley. You already know what shoes to pair with that little black dress for the perfect night out, but you need to learn the details of management as it relates to fashion. Courses in fashion sales, retail history, and more can give you the experience you need to enter the field with confidence.

Management Salary Points. In 2007, retail sales managers and supervisors saw mean annual earnings of $39,210, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Management positions at high-end boutiques and specialty stores might earn more, depending on location and experience.

Fashion Merchandising Careers

If you stand behind your brand, you have to be able to sell it. Fashion merchandising is an umbrella term that covers a range of careers, including: Merchandise managers ” Fashion buyers ” Fashion marketers ” Fashion sales

Even those who specialize in creating window dressings for department stores fall under the category of fashion merchandising.

Fashion merchandise managers see a lot of use in today’s fashion economy. “Today it’s the merchandise manager who carries the weight,” Marvin Traub, a retail consultant, told the New York Times. “He has an eye to the numbers.” While a degree or certificate in fashion merchandising may not be required for all careers, it can help to have the technical knowledge you can pair with you existing passion.

Merchandising Salary Points. Wholesale and retail buyers earned $53,580 in 2007, the BLS reports. That same year, purchasing managers across all industries earned mean annual wages of $90,430. While that figure goes well beyond the fashion industry, it should give you an idea of the kind of salary a skilled manager in the field might expect.

Fashion Designers

When you first think of jobs in the fashion industry, you might picture famous fashion designers like Donatella Versace or Michael Kors. While it’s true that most work can be found in fashion hubs California and New York, designers typically work all over the country, running small businesses and boutiques. Whether you’re dreaming of small-town success or a big-city dream, training in fashion design can get you there.

Fashion Design Salary Points. Fashion designers saw mean annual wages of $71,170 in 2007, according to the BLS. Most designers worked in New York or California, cementing the notion that your best chances for employment are on the opposite coasts.

While competition is keen for many careers and no degree can guarantee a job, graduates of fashion schools are still finding a viable job market. Research fashion schools to get a better idea of your potential future.

Education in Fashion Goes a Long Way

So you have an incredible passion for fashion – you’ve got the talent and what it takes to start your own clothing line, but unfortunately, you don’t possess the education needed to become a fashion designer. What to do? While it is possible to just jump into the waters feet-first and test your mettle by trying out your sketches on actual fabric, advertising them and selling them under a brand-new label you’ve created, sometimes it takes a bit more background for people to give you their trust and well, their money.

Most of the big names in fashion now got there through hard work and a lot of determination. But they also had the proper educational background and qualifications that allowed them to rise to the top. Face it – when you say you have a degree in fashion, more people will believe you and buy your clothes because they can be assured you know what you’re doing. So if you really want to go for it, why not earn yourself the education needed to become a fashion designer?

The Education

If you’re still in high school, you may want to start taking those fashion, design, textile and art classes as this will serve as your foundation later on. You can even try home economics classes because this is where you’ll learn to make patterns and sew. If you’re past that age, don’t worry, there are still plenty of options for you!

There are full-degree fashion courses where you undergo intensive studies in a college or university campus, and there are two-year courses you can take as well if you’re hard-pressed for time. Four years earns you a bachelor’s degree while two years an associate’s degree. There are numerous accredited fashion schools across the United States and across the globe, for that matter, that specialize in training students on the ins and outs of the fashion industry. Degrees in fashion include fashion and textile terminology, understanding consumer trends and behavior, marketing and merchandising, fashion and art history, pattern-making, sewing and tailoring, economics, sociology, even human anatomy. Most schools screen student applicants based on artistic ability, so if you want to get into a good school, you’ll have to have a portfolio ready showcasing your talents.

The Qualifications

Once you’ve earned a degree, that becomes your biggest claim to future fame and your weapon for whatever you intend to do next. After you’ve earned the education needed to become a fashion designer, you can choose to enter internship programs or enter the field as a stylist, personal shopper, tailor or seamstress or even by joining contests.

It would be good to add to your qualifications though, by going to trainings and seminars so that you not only broaden your knowledge and skills, you can always meet new people and make contacts who can aid you later on. Check out other fashion designers’ works as well, take inspiration from all aspects of life so that you have a variety of palettes to choose from and try working for and with big companies so that you’ll have hands-on experience regarding the fashion industry. With all these under your belt, rest assured that when you enter the fashion world with the education needed to become a fashion designer, you’ll take it by storm!

Breaking Into Fashion Public Relations

Publicists are masters of communication. They not only help to create an image for products and companies, they also spearhead efforts to get the word out and create buzz. If you love fashion and have stellar communication skills, you could enjoy great success in fashion public relations.

Retailers hire fashion publicists to develop and promote a certain image to the buying public. To the fashion publicist, it’s all about who you know. Those in fashion PR have important fashion editors and top designers on speed dial and collect contacts on a daily basis. The more people you know, the easier it is to promote something.

Not only do fashion publicists have to know important fashion players, they must also know the politics, economy and sociology of their target demographic. While you can learn about the ins and outs of PR by majoring in it, it is also wise to enroll in fashion courses to gain industry and technical knowledge. Not to mention, fashion school will also serve as a networking opportunity as you connect with classmates who are also entering the fashion world.

People skills are essential to those interested in fashion PR. Since the job is basically communicating constantly, it is important to know how to get a point across and how to be likable and graceful under pressure. Another important quality to have is ambition. Since fashion PR is a highly competitive field, only the most driven will make it through and get the job of their dreams in fashion PR.

Learn more about Careers in Fashion.