What Is the Average Salary of a Dressmaker?

A dressmaker creates hand-sewn apparel for customers, including bridal and evening gowns. Many also craft other types of custom clothing and offer alteration services. Read on to find out about average salaries for this career, including the factors that affect your earnings. Schools offering Fashion Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

As of May 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that around 20,200 Americans were employed as tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers. A dressmaker may own a small business or work part time on a contract basis. Some find additional employment making costumes for performing arts groups or providing alterations for department stores. The BLS expects little to no change in tailor, dressmaker and custom sewer employment from 2012-2022.

Important Facts About Dressmakers

On-the-Job Training One to two years
Key Skills Coordination, time management, critical thinking, close listening, clear oration
Work Environment Specialty clothing stores, bridal shops, haberdasheries, dry cleaners, alteration shops
Similar Occupations Fashion designer, seamstress, sewing machine operator, upholsterer, alterations specialist

Average Salary Overview

Due to increasing competition from large-scale apparel manufacturers that use automated processes and offshore workers, pay for dressmakers is relatively low. According to the BLS, the national average salary of a tailor, dressmaker or custom sewer in May 2014 was $29,170 per year, or about $14.03 an hour. The highest-paid ten percentile earned $42,240 or more, while the lowest-paid ten percentile earned $18,1500 or less annually.

Salary by Industry

In May 2014, the BLS reported that clothing stores employed the highest number of tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers, and the average wage for this industry was $30,070. Dry cleaning and laundry services paid an average wage of $26,910, while personal and household goods repair and maintenance companies paid an average wage of $26,870. The industries with the highest average pay at that time included department stores ($37,910); warehousing and storage industries ($36,280); and traveler accommodation industries ($34,660).

Salary by Location

According to May 2014 data by the BLS, the highest concentration of tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers were in New York, Texas, California, Pennsylvania and Virginia. These states had mean annual earnings of $34,180, $24,190, $35,090, $34,270 and $26,140, respectively. California and Pennsylvania were also among the states with the highest average pay at that time. The highest average wages were also in the District of Columbia ($41,750), Arizona ($37,140), and Minnesota ($36,310). Professionals working in some states made below-average wages of $16,870-$25,250. These areas included Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, New Mexico, Indiana and Iowa.

Career Advancement

Dressmakers may increase their earning potential by providing services related to dressmaking, like tailoring and patternmaking. The BLS reports that apparel patternmakers, who use designers' drawings to create fabric sections that are sewn together to produce the final product, earn an average wage of $22.73 per hour or $47,280 a year. In addition, you may increase your earnings by gaining experience. In September 2015, PayScale.com showed that tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers made $32,000 with 20 years of experience or more.

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