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Custom Tailor: Job & Career Info

Custom tailors create customized clothing and mend damaged clothes. They may work for dry cleaners, leather workers, and fabric designers. If working in clothing design sounds interesting, read on to learn more about custom tailoring!

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Career Definition of a Custom Tailor

Custom tailors work with clients to create customized clothing tailored to a client's body type and needs. After taking measurements and discussing design with clients, custom tailors select and purchase fabric and additional materials. In addition to making clothing from scratch, custom tailors modify or mend existing garments. Some custom tailors specialize in certain types of tailoring, like men's clothing, while others mostly mend garments.

Education Apprenticeship, internship, or vocational program in tailoring
Job Skills Communication and intuition skills, attention to detail, and hand-eye coordination
Average Salary (2015)* $28,630 (for all tailors, dressmakers, and custom sewers)
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 9% decrease (for all tailors, dressmakers, and custom sewers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Most custom tailors have a high school diploma or a GED; they may also complete a 1- to 2-year vocational training program in tailoring at a community college or technical school. Students interested in becoming a custom tailor take home economics, sewing, and fashion classes. Many prospective custom tailors apprentice or intern with established tailors.

Skills Required

Custom tailors need strong interpersonal and communication skills since they interact with clients on a daily basis. Some clients with specific tastes may have trouble communicating what they want, so custom tailors should be skilled at intuiting what a customer wants. Since tailoring is a precise art, custom tailors should be detail-oriented and have strong hand-eye coordination.

Occupation and Fiscal Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the average annual wage of custom tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers in 2015 was approximately $28,630 per year. The field of custom tailoring is expected to decrease by 9% in 2014-2024, due to several factors, including the increasing reliance on imports and machinery. Custom tailors who can maintain a loyal customer base and provide superior quality will ensure continued employment.

Alternate Career Options

Other careers to check out in this field include:

Interior Designer

By earning a bachelor's degree and securing licensure in some states, these professionals beautify interior spaces in homes, offices, restaurants and shopping malls, with careful selection of colors, fabrics and lighting. Employment growth of 4% was predicted by the BLS from 2014-2024, and this profession paid an average annual salary of $55,510 in 2015.

Fashion Designer

Although a college degree isn't required for fashion designers, formal education in design skills and computer-aided design (CAD) technology might be beneficial. These professionals sketch clothing designs, select the fabrics and provide directions for how the products are to be made. Strong competition is expected by the BLS, from 2014-2024, and little growth is expected overall. However, an increase in jobs is expected in specialized design services and for those designing for the performing and spectator sports and related industries. In 2015, the BLS reported an average annual wage of $73,180 for fashion designers.

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