Embroidery Professions: Job Description and Career Requirements

Read on to learn about a career in embroidery. Find out about education and training requirements, career prospects, and earning potential to decide if this job is right for you.

Career Definition for an Embroiderer

Professional embroiderers are masters of detail, applying a range of traditional stitching techniques to produce intricate designs on clothing, accessories, and home décor items. Professional embroiderers combine traditional sewing skills with current software programs to design and construct embellishments on an item. Embroiderers often are employed by large-scale clothing labels, retailers or design companies, or they may work independently as freelance artists.

Education Certificate or bachelor's degree
Job Skills Detail oriented, sewing, computer design, creative
Median Salary (2017)* $28,600 (for tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers)
Job Growth (2016-2026)* -10% (for tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

A career as a professional embroiderer requires a firm understanding of needle arts, which can be achieved by way of a certificate program or a Bachelor of Arts degree with a specialization in embroidery. Successful embroiderers have a firm understanding of the various computerized embroidery programs need for the stitching and fabric manipulation process. Such information can be obtained through a seminar, private lessons, an institution that offers a certificate, or a college or university. Typical coursework for a certificate or degree in embroidery will include beading, canvas embroidery, color for needlework, counted thread embroidery, design for needlework, quilting silk, and metal thread embroidery.

Skills Required

Professional embroiderers are comfortable manipulating various types of sewing machines and are knowledgeable of both traditional hand sewing techniques as well as computer design programs such as Adobe Illustrator, Acrobat, and Photoshop. These individuals are dedicated to details and possess a strong sense of creativity and applied design.

Career and Economic Outlook

During the 2016-2026 decade, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) predicts a 10% decline in employment for tailors, dressmakers, and custom sewers. The median salary earned by sewing machine operators, such as most embroiderers, was recorded as $24,320 in May 2017 by the BLS. Tailors, dressmakers, and custom sewers earned slightly more, with the median reported as $28,600 by the BLS for the same year.

Alternative Career Prospects

Those seeking to become embroiderers may consider occupations in photography and cosmetology.


Photographers capture images on film. They use a combination of technical skills and creativity to take a picture and modify it for aesthetic or editorial purposes. Photographers may specialize, such as in portrait, commercial, scientific, fine arts or news photography.

According to the BLS, about two-thirds of photographers owned their own businesses in 2016. Photographers who specialize in business-related areas, such as news, commercial or scientific photography, usually have a 4-year degree, while those who specialize in portrait or fine art photography may or may not need a 4-year degree in preparation for entry-level work. Photographers may benefit from classes in business-related subjects like accounting or marketing. The BLS reports that photographers can expect job decline 6% from 2016-2026, and that photographers earned a median salary of $32,490 in 2017.


Barbers use their eye for detail and knowledge of cosmetology to provide grooming services for men. Barbers may cut or trim men's hair or prepare and fit hair pieces. Barbers are also usually trained in performing facial shaves. A barber must complete a state-approved postsecondary program in cosmetology and then earn a state license; state licensing requirements vary but often include a written and practical test. The BLS predicts that jobs for barbers will increase 13% from 2016-2026; barbers' median pay was $25,650 in 2017.

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