Fashion Apprenticeships: How Do They Work?

Fashion apprenticeships often serve as a stepping stone toward a career in the industry. Opportunities are available through school programs or with fashion designers.

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Aspiring fashion professionals can complete apprenticeships to prepare for successful careers in the competitive field of fashion.

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How Fashion Apprenticeships Work

Individuals aspiring to work in the fashion industry can start out by participating in fashion apprenticeships. Like interns, apprentices work under seasoned professionals to learn the trade; however, apprenticeships are marketed toward people who have a clear career path. Non-profit organizations, independent designers and apparel design companies, such as Reebok, offer fashion apprenticeships. Some colleges and universities also include apprenticeship experiences as part of their certificate and degree programs in fashion design. Students often can find additional apprenticeship opportunities through their college's career services department.

Who Applies For Fashion Apprenticeships?

Fashion apprenticeships are available for the following groups:

  • Recent college graduates
  • Current college students
  • High school students interested in the industry

College graduates might function as junior designers or learn how global design firms work, depending on the fashion apprenticeship program and where their interest lies. Current college students can take advantage of apprenticeship courses offered by their schools, where they'll receive hands-on training in apparel production. This includes learning to cut, draft and construct apparel. High school students can participate in programs such as In True Fashion, where mentors take them on factory tours and teach them about planning businesses.

What Are the Prerequisites?

Qualifications for fashion apprenticeships vary by program, but applicants might find it beneficial to have a formal education in fashion. Whether currently enrolled in or recently graduated from a degree program in fashion, aspiring fashion design apprentices might want to assemble a portfolio of their work to demonstrate their ability and creativity. Employers generally look for familiarity with textiles and colors, as well as sketching and design skills. For business- and marketing-focused apprenticeships, possible prerequisites vary by program, but they can include:

  • Enrollment in an undergraduate or graduate program
  • A specific major
  • A minimum undergraduate GPA
  • Physical fitness
  • Communication and organization skills

What Are the Career Prospects?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that fashion designers earned a median annual salary of $65,170 in May 2016. They held about 19,230 jobs that year, with the highest percentage of fashion designers working in New York and California. Employment growth was predicted to be slow for fashion designers. Between 2014 and 2024, they could expect a 3% increase in jobs, according to the BLS.

In order to launch a career in the fashion industry, it can be helpful to get hands-on training through a fashion apprenticeship.

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