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Dressmaker: Job Description & Career Requirements

Dressmakers are typically employed as seamstresses or pattern makers, either independently or for private businesses and design firms. Learn what types of skills and training are needed to become a dressmaker, as well as what to expect in terms of earnings and job growth.

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Career Definition for a Dressmaker

Dressmakers combine the skills of a seamstress with the talent and eye for design possessed by fashion designers. Day-to-day duties generally include fitting, altering and constructing made-to-measure clothing, according to the specific requests of a customer or manufacturer.

Education Formal education is not commonly required
Job Skills Communication, creative, detail oriented, problem-solving
Median Salary (2015)* $25,830 (for dressmakers, tailors and custom sewers)
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 2% (for art and design workers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Although a degree is not necessary to become a dressmaker, individuals must possess strong sewing skills and an acute understanding of dress design and construction. Dressmakers study fashion trends, sketch designs of clothing, select various fabrics and implement or supervise the production of garments.

Skills Required

In addition to knowledge of sewing techniques, dressmakers should have a firm understanding of garment design, construction, styling and fabric. Key skills also include attention to detail, creativity and the ability to communicate clearly with clients.

Career and Salary Prospects

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported dressmakers, tailors and custom sewers earned a median salary of $25,830, as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov). States with the highest levels of employment during this same month included California, Washington, New York, Texas and Virginia, with California paying some of the highest wages in the nation. The number of jobs in the art and design field is expected to grow 2% from 2014 to 2024, according to the BLS.

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Alternate Career Options

Individuals skilled in dressmaking may consider other occupations in fashion design, including designing fashion and fiber art.

Fashion Designers

Fashion designers use computer-aided programs or traditional hand techniques to create accessories, apparel and footwear. Education and training requirements include completion of a bachelor's degree program in either fashion design or merchandising. Employment opportunities for fashion designers across the country are expected to grow by 3% between 2014 and 2024, as reported by the BLS. Those employed in May 2015 earned median annual wages of $63,670, also according to the BLS (www.bls.gov).

Fiber Artists

Fiber artists use different materials, such as fabrics and yarns, to create crocheted, knitted, sewn or woven works of art. While a degree is not required to pursue a career as a fiber artist, aspiring professionals can acquire formal training through credit and non-credit classes, fine arts programs or private lessons. According to the BLS, employment opportunities for craft and fine artists nationwide are expected to increase by just 2% nationwide from 2014 to 2024. The BLS also reports that, as of May 2015, craft and fine artists earned median annual wages of $30,720 and $46,460, respectively (www.bls.gov).

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