Careers in Fashion Journalism: Job Options and Requirements

Jan 16, 2020

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a fashion journalist. Get a quick view of the requirements, as well as details about schooling, job duties, and necessary skills to find out if this is the right career for you.

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  • 0:01 Fashion Journalists
  • 0:40 Fashion Writer
  • 1:48 Fashion Editor
  • 2:50 Fashion Photographer
  • 3:59 Art Director

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Fashion Journalists

Fashion journalists use their creativity and knowledge of quality fashion to keep aficionados up to date on the latest news and trends in the industry. Writers, editors, photographers, and art directors play key roles in communicating fashion information to people with personal or professional interests in style.

A degree is not always required to work as a fashion journalist, however a combination of experience, aptitude, and talent is key to getting a job and working in the field. Let's take a look at the responsibilities, educational requirements, job outlook, and salaries associated with the different types of fashion journalists.

Career Degree Level Degree Field Job Outlook Median Salary (2018)
Fashion writer Associate or bachelor' degree English, communications, or journalism 0% growth $62,170
Fashion editor Associate or bachelor' degree English, communications, or journalism 3% decline $59,480
Fashion photographer Certificate, associate, or bachelor's degree Photography or related field 6% decline $34,000
Art director Bachelor' degree (master's plus) Art or graphic design 1% growth $92,780

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Fashion Writer

The fashion writer uses gathered information to compose articles and in-depth analyses for print and online magazines, metropolitan newspapers, and fashion blogs. Although most professional writers begin their journalistic careers with undergraduate degrees in English, communications, or journalism, a fashion writer usually enters the profession with a strong background in fashion and a talent for writing. Some fashion writers major in fashion design or merchandising. There are also some colleges that prepare students to become fashion journalists by offering courses or concentrations in fashion writing or communication.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for writers and authors in general are predicted to increase by just 0%, or slower than average, from 2018 to 2028. In May of 2018, the BLS reported that writers and authors earned a median salary of $62,170.

Fashion Editor

A fashion editor reads writers' submissions with a critical eye, correcting errors in spelling, grammar, and style. Editors work with writers to make sure articles are precise, informative, exciting, and free of errors, while conforming to established guidelines governing taste and style. Fashion editors are involved in the overall planning of publications, including the development of story ideas and the assigning of articles to specific writers.

A fashion editor must have expert knowledge about the fashion industry as well as a clear understanding of a publication's mission. Seasoned writers who have demonstrated proficiency in their craft and shown an aptitude for working with writers, other members of the creative team, and business managers may qualify for editorial positions.

The BLS expects to see a 3% decrease in the employment of editors in general between 2018 and 2028. According to the BLS, editors received a median salary of $59,480 in May 2018.

Fashion Photographer

A fashion photographer uses images to enhance the telling of fashion stories. They combine knowledge of style with the creative ability to photograph models and clothing in aesthetically pleasing ways. Fashion photographers may be employed by fashion publications, or they may offer their services as freelancers.

A fashion photographer must possess technical knowledge of both film and digital photography, which may be obtained from formal coursework at a college, community college, or trade school. But more than just being proficient in the technical aspects of photography, the fashion photographer must be creative and imaginative in deciding how a fashion subject will be presented. The high expectations that go with fashion photography require the use of high quality camera equipment, including a camera body, different lenses, and lighting accessories.

The BLS projected a 6%, or slower than average, decrease in job growth rate for photographers in general during the 2018-2028 decade. As reported by the BLS, the median salary for photographers was $34,000 in May 2018.

Art Director

An art director at a fashion periodical reviews all images, both photographic and graphic, that are available for use and decides which ones should be published. The art director carefully considers the likely impact that each and every image or combination of images would have on the reading public. He or she then selects the strongest visual elements to tell the story. An art director makes sure the publication stays true to its aesthetic concept.

Requirements for obtaining a position as an art director for a fashion publication can include a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design, a strong knowledge of the fashion industry, and proficiency in software design programs. An art director must exhibit the energy and confidence to manage tight production schedules and collaborate effectively with talented photographers, editors, and designers.

Art directors can expect to experience a 1%, or slower-than-average, increase in employment from 2018 to 2028, as reported by the BLS. According to the BLS, art directors earned a median salary of $92,780 in May 2018.

If you decide to pursue a career in fashion journalism, keep in mind that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected a slower-than-average increase in employment for writers and art directors in general from 2018-2028, with a decrease in opportunities expected for editors and photographers during the same ten year period.

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