If you are a creative thinker with a flair for putting outfits together, then a career as a fashion specialist may be a good fit for you. Read on for more information about areas of specialization, employment and education for fashion professionals.
Fashion is a highly-competitive field that can be rewarding for individuals who are passionate about the industry and willing to work long hours, often under the pressure of deadlines. In addition to designing apparel and accessories, fashion specialists may also market and merchandise clothing for women, men and children.
You can often tailor your fashion career based on your personal interests and talents. If you're skilled in designing and sewing your own clothes, you could pursue a career as a fashion designer, specializing in apparel, accessories or footwear. Fashion designers are involved in every aspect of the design process, from coming up with an idea to overseeing its manufacturing. Fashion designers should also be on top of the latest trends and be able to predict the next big thing.
On the other hand, if you'd rather work on the business side of the industry, perhaps a career as a fashion public relations specialist or a fashion merchandiser might be a good fit. In general, your activities might include marketing a designer's clothing, producing fashion shows, selecting clothing for stores and boutiques, and designing window displays.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has projected a 3% decrease in jobs nationwide for fashion designers between 2012 and 2022. In May 2012, there were approximately 22,300 fashion designers employed in the United States who earned median annual salaries of $62,860. By comparison, merchandise displayers and window trimmers, who earned median annual salaries of $26,410 in May 2012, can expect an average growth of 10% in jobs nationwide through 2022. An average increase in employment is also expected for public relations specialists who had a median salary of $54,170 a year, as of May 2012 (www.bls.gov).
If you're hoping to become a fashion specialist, you'll most likely need 2- or 4-year degree in fashion design, fashion merchandising or a related field. Many fashion education programs, particularly those in design, will require hands-on training in sewing, alterations and visual design.
As a fashion student, you may take courses in apparel construction, illustration, pattern drafting and textiles, as well as receive training in computer-aided design. Many programs also include instruction in fashion marketing, merchandising, retailing and business. You can also learn how to put together a portfolio and produce a fashion show.