Be an Assistant Clothing Buyer: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become an assistant clothing buyer. Research the education and career requirements, training information and experience required for starting a career in the fashion buying field.

Should I Become an Assistant Clothing Buyer?

Assistant clothing buyers help clothing buyers by analyzing fashion trends and sales, creating reports, managing inventories, promoting merchandise, developing relationships with brands, and finding new clothing suppliers. Assistant clothing buyers make less money than clothing buyers, and they sometimes work long hours in stressful situations. However, the assistant position can prepare individuals for promotion to buyer or purchasing manager positions.

Career Requirements

Degree Level High school diploma required, but a bachelor's degree is preferred for clothing buying positions
Degree Fields Fashion merchandising, fashion merchandising management, retail management
Experience A background in retail and merchandising is necessary
Key Skills Detail-oriented, organized, able to work under pressure and meet tight deadlines, an eye for fashion trends
Salary (2015) $42,864 per year (Median salary for all assistant buyers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; job posts (July 2012). PayScale.

Step 1: Gain Work Experience

Prospective assistant buyers need to have experience in a retail environment. When applying for entry-level positions in a clothing store, applicants will find jobs as sales associates working on the floor or as part of the inventory team working in the back. Gaining experience in a clothing store provides individuals with on-the-job training, teaches them how the merchandising world works, and how displays, marketing, and sales affect customer purchasing behavior.

Step 2: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

A job as an assistant buyer is a stepping stone to a buyer position; however, to become a buyer, an individual needs to have experience in the field and a bachelor's degree. Students working in the fashion industry planning to apply for entry-level assistant buyer positions benefit from a fashion merchandising management or related degree program. In addition to taking business-related courses, students in a fashion merchandising management program learn about inventory management, selling strategies, apparel merchandising, accounting, fashion promotion, and merchandising strategies.

Success Tip:

  • Complete an internship. An internship provides students with an opportunity to develop experience in the field and work in a corporate environment. Even those with clothing store experience benefit from working in this type of environment. Interns learn how decisions about clothing and merchandising are made and how to find new and affordable suppliers. While the duties may not relate specifically to buying, interns get the chance to sit in on meetings and travel to fashion shows. They also have the opportunity to network with industry professionals, helping them to obtain contacts which lead to future employment.

Step 3: Pursue Career Advancement

Once an assistant buyer gains enough experience in a retail environment, he or she can look for promotion opportunities. Many clothing stores promote from within, since current employees already have a basic understanding of polices and procedures. Having management experience gives individuals an advantage over competitors and offers them the chance to demonstrate organizational and administrative skills.

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