Working as a fashion assistant is a good career choice for someone interested in both the creative and business sides of fashion. Some knowledge of the fashion industry--which can be learned through certificate or degree programs--is often the minimum requirement for getting started in this field.
Fashion designers and retail companies are some of the employers who hire fashion assistants. Many fashion certificate and degree programs successfully prepare candidates for a career in these positions. Fashion assistants can occupy entry-level positions in many different realms of the fashion industry. Some employers prefer candidates who graduated from a certificate or degree program, while some positions don't require any formal education.
|Required Education||Coursework in fashion design or related field|
|Other Requirements||Excellent communication skills|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||3% (for fashion designers)*|
|Median Annual Salary (2016)||$39,358 (for assistant fashion designers)**|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com
Some positions require applicants to have formal education in fashion design or a related field, like fashion merchandising. Certificate programs in fashion design and merchandising teach students about making patterns, choosing textiles and constructing clothes. Aspiring fashion assistants can learn about sewing and drawing techniques in a fashion design degree program, in addition to topics learned at the certificate level. Some courses included in degree programs in fashion merchandising focus on retail buying and fashion forecasting. Students can pursue fashion degree programs at the associate's and bachelor's degree levels.
Job listings indicate that many employers expect fashion assistants to be familiar with the field and have some experience in the industry. Fashion assistants benefit from having good communication skills and being able to efficiently multi-task. Problem-solving skills also lend themselves to the fashion industry. Fashion assistants must work well independently and as part of a team. They need to be flexible and willing to commit to the time required to finish a quality finished product.
Assistant designers lend both creative and practical support to fashion designers. According to job listings posted on CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com in February 2011, some of their duties involve researching current trends, crafting new product ideas, attending fittings, and preparing color boards. Assistant designers may also schedule and organize things to ensure that projects get finished in time for meetings and seasonal sales.
Fashion assistants may also function as assistant buyers. They work for retail companies and keep track of the purchase-order process. The job listings show that this involves planning inventory and tracking sales, as well as interacting with vendors. Assistant buyers need to be knowledgeable about the product and participate in competitive shopping.
A production assistant holds a largely administrative position. Employed by fashion designers and retailers, production assistants also handle purchase orders and juggle multiple deadlines. They act as a liaison with distribution centers and communicate details with many teams and vendors, based on the job listings. Production assistants may also organize fashion events, such as runway shows.
Salary and Career Information
According to PayScale.com, most assistant fashion designers earn a median annual salary of $39,358 for 2016. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) indicated that the employment of fashion designers is projected to grow 3% between 2014 and 2024, which is slower than the average of all jobs. It is likely that the employment of designers' assistants will follow a similar trend.
In summary, a fashion assistant's job is often mostly administrative, but can afford the opportunity to make creative decisions or help with practical projects. No formal education is required, but certificate programs and degree programs both exist in different areas of fashion. Organizational and communication skills are essential for these professionals.