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Tailor: Educational Overview for a Career in Sewing

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a tailor. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and salary information to find out if this is the career for you.

A tailor could work making uniforms or costumes, or repairing clothing. Many types of industries employ these professionals, and although a degree is not necessarily required, certificate, associate's degree, and bachelor's degree programs all exist in fields related to sewing and tailoring.

Essential Information

Tailors create, alter or repair clothes and accessories. They may work for a manufacturing company or create costumes for the performing arts. Some may work in stand-alone tailor shops or provide a service for a related store, such as a dry cleaners. Tailors typically learn the skill through on-the-job training. Degree programs in related fields are also available.

Required Education On-the-job training; formal education options available
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 9% decline
Median Salary (2015) $25,830*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements for Tailors

Some workplaces may require a high school diploma or its equivalent to work in this field. Many high schools offer introductory training for tailors. Some elective possibilities may include family and consumer sciences, textiles, fashion design or sewing.

While an associate's or bachelor's degree is not necessary, undergraduate programs in fashion design or sewing techniques may be beneficial to tailors. Training programs offer classes in the latest technologies and techniques, as well as knowledge of the business side of the industry. An education program also gives students a chance to practice in a guided and supervised environment, usually with equipment and resources students might not otherwise have access to on their own.

Aspiring tailors will learn techniques for breaking down designs into patterns, adjusting sizes according to proportion, rendering patterns for use by other technicians, as well as alteration techniques, style enhancements, repair/replacement methods and more.

Coursework involved in becoming a tailor may include computer-aided design (CAD), pattern-making, textile design elements, accessory design and fashion technology.

Tailor Job Description

A tailor makes his living with a needle and thread. Tailors might create costumes, uniforms or other kinds of custom clothing for individuals, fashion houses, theater or film organizations, performing artists and more. Most tailors and sewing professionals are employed by the manufacturing industry and perform specific tasks in some aspect of garment production.

Careers for Tailors

Pattern-making occupies the talent of a large segment of the tailoring profession. Pattern-makers would need to understand the various cuts and approaches to clothing design used by their clients. They would then take their design and convert it into a pattern for mass production.

Another way to find work is to affiliate with a laundry or dry cleaner that offers tailoring services such as repair or alteration. Some other workplaces that employ tailors can be found in clothing or department stores.

Salary and Career Outlook Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that job growth for sewers and tailors would decline by 9% in the years 2014-2024. In May 2015, tailors, custom sewers and dressmakers earned $25,830 as a median annual wage.

Although the number of jobs for tailors is expected to decline from 2014-2024, tailors are needed by companies and individuals to create and mend clothing and accessories. A tailor can learn on the job, or attend classes to gain the necessary skills. Associate's degrees and bachelor's degrees also exist that cover sewing and tailoring as one component of a more thorough education in textile production or design.

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