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Fashion Buyer: Education Requirements and Career Information

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a fashion buyer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and salary expectations to find out if this is the career for you.

Fashion buyers often have a bachelor's degree in marketing, business, or merchandising, although this is not a professional requirement. They are responsible for analyzing consumer and market trends, and purchasing apparel based on these trends. A lot of travel is involved in this position, as a fashion buyer is required to visit in person with various clients.

Essential Information

Fashion buyers are responsible for choosing apparel and related products for retail companies to sell. Buyers analyze fashion and sales trends to predict which items will be in highest demand and purchase them at the lowest possible prices. This job often involves travel, and long hours are common. Education requirements aren't standard for fashion buyers, but most employers prefer workers who hold at least bachelor's degrees in business, marketing or a relevant field.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in marketing, business or related field recommended
Projected Job Growth 2% from 2014-2024 for all buyers and purchasing agents*
Median Salary (2016) $71,215 annually**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), *PayScale.com.

Fashion Buyer Education Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are no strict education requirements for becoming a buyer, but employers typically prefer applicants with a college degree. Candidates with bachelor's degrees in business, marketing or merchandising may enjoy higher employment opportunities. Students should select courses that focus on sales forecasting, business operations, commerce and inventory.

Buyers new to the industry often continue their education in the field by participating in training programs led by experienced buyers. Beginning buyers generally start out as assistant buyers and work their way up by completing a variety of tasks, such as selling, processing invoices and managing inventory.

Fashion Buyer Career Information

A fashion buyer's main duty is to select and purchase products, according to market trends, customer demands and sales forecasts, which a retailer will sell. Buyers also try to maximize profits by obtaining the highest quality products at the lowest costs. Public relations skills are important because buyers work closely with fashion designers, manufacturers and wholesalers. Buyers are often required to travel extensively to visit clients and vendors.

According to the BLS, buyers employed by small retailers are usually responsible for deciding the store's entire merchandise assortment, whereas buyers for large retailers may specialize in one type of merchandise, such as women's outerwear or men's suits.

PayScale.com reported that fashion buyers earned a median salary of $71,215 as of 2016. Buyers may also earn bonuses based on job performance and retailer profits. Other benefits include vacation and sick time, pension and insurance plans and employee discounts on merchandise.

According to the BLS, employment for buyers and purchasing agents is expected to increase only two percent from 2014-2024. Candidates with master's degrees and professional certifications may experience more job opportunities.

In addition to finding apparel that reflects consumer demands, fashion buyers need to have a keen eye for cost-effective fashion merchandise that can turn a profit. Excellent communication skills are also very important in this role, due to the amount of interaction fashion buyers have with various other professionals, such as vendors, wholesalers, and designers.

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