Should I Become a Personal Shopper?
The main task of a personal shopper is to shop for their clients. While people may think of fashion and accessories when they hear the term personal shopper, this service also encompasses other types of shopping. Your skills, interests and experience will determine the type of personal shopper that you want to become. In general, a college degree isn't required to become a personal shopper. However, those becoming fashion personal shoppers may come from a fashion background and have studied design, merchandising or fashion-related subjects at the college level.
|Degree Level||None; associate/bachelor's degree available|
|Degree Field||Fashion design and/or merchandising|
|Licensure and Certification||Voluntary|
|Salary||$38,000 (2015 median for personal shoppers)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Payscale.com (August 2015)
Though not required, personal shoppers might have an associate's or bachelor's degree in fashion design or merchandising. Voluntary certification is also available. According to 2016 data from Payscale.com, personal shoppers earn a median salary of $38,000.
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Steps to Become a Personal Shopper
Step 1: Determine Your Niche
Professional personal shoppers are not only in the fashion industry. Many work with the elderly or others in the community to perform errands, such as going to the grocery store. Personal shoppers could also work for law firms or Fortune 500 companies. Even if you'd like to work exclusively in fashion, you could specialize in a specific area, such as shoes, women's clothing or business suits.
Step 2: Seek Training
Prospective fashion personal shoppers could follow trends in magazines and on blogs or visit shops and online stores to determine product availability and pricing. Those who plan to focus on clothing should learn about various body types and find out how to camouflage flaws and enhance positive attributes with clothing to help clients shop for flattering outfits. There are also training programs specifically geared toward image consulting and personal shopping that provide education and training in the field. Many organizations also offer continuing education programs and workshops to help established personal shoppers build their knowledge base.
Completing internships with established personal shoppers or fashion-related firms, such as magazines or design houses, or working with a mentor in the field is a great way to gain experience. The Association of Image Consultants International (AICI) is one organization that offers coaching and is for those who want to work as consultants in personal appearance and other image-focused areas.
Step 3: Gain Experience
If you'd like to work with the elderly or for businesses and community members, you may gain experience by helping friends or relatives before building clientele. Fashion personal shoppers can gain experience by working in a retail environment, where they'll develop an understanding of pricing and interact with customers. Some stores actually offer shopping advisers and services to customers, and working in that capacity is a good way to build experience for shoppers who want to start their own businesses. Volunteer work with an organization that provides clothing or professional image development for job seekers can also add to a personal shopper's skills and experience.
O*NET Online groups personal shoppers in the category for all other sales representatives of services, and it reports that average growth between 5% and 8% is expected for these representatives over the 2014-2024 decade.
Step 4: Market Your Services
Personal shoppers should have an extensive online presence, with a website, social media account and a blog devoted to their services. Advertising personal shopping services in appropriate publications and attending networking events can also help build a client base. If trying to work as a fashion personal shopper, developing a professional personal image and style shows potential clients the caliber of work they can expect.
Step 5: Consider Certification
Fashion or imaging personal shoppers with experience qualify for certification with the AICI. Certification is optional, but achieving the designation gives a shopper more credibility and may increase earning potential. There are several levels of certification, based upon the applicant's amount of experience and education. Depending on the level of certification sought, the designation may require passing a written exam, having a minimum number of hours of professional experience or presenting a portfolio of work and industry recommendations. Maintaining certification requires completing continuing education coursework.
Though not required, personal shoppers might have an associate's or a bachelor's degree in fashion or merchandising, and the median salary for these professionals was $38,000 in 2016.