Becoming a Tailor: Job Description & Salary Info

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A tailor's average income is about $29,000. Is it worth the training requirements? Read about real job descriptions and get the truth about career prospects to find out if becoming a tailor is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Becoming a Tailor

Clothing and other garments are changed or made by tailors. You can read about the pros and cons to becoming a tailor below.

PROS to Becoming a Tailor
No formal education is required*
A variety of job training options to choose from*
Large room for self-employment (44% of tailors were self-employed)*
Opportunity to think creatively while working**

CONS to Becoming a Tailor
Typically, longer work hours are required if you're operating your own business*
Weekends, evenings and nights might have to be worked depending on the schedule of your clientele*
Little employment growth (two percent employment decline from 2012 to 2022 is expected)*
May be required to meet strict deadlines **

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*Net OnLine

Vocational Information

Job Description

A tailor typically meets with a customer and discusses what he or she needs as far as the design or modification of clothes. The tailor might make various fashion suggestions to the client before something is determined; this gives a client an opportunity to weigh-in on his or her options. After taking the customer's measurements, a tailor can begin to alter existing clothing or create a unique outfit. If it is for a custom piece, you'll show patterns, colors and fabrics to the client to see what works best. A tailor might specialize in a specific material or garment like fur or wedding gowns. If you own a business, you might have to take care of other duties like managing your staff or company's finances.

Salary Info

In May 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that tailors made about $14.00 per hour on average ( At $14.00 an hour, the average yearly salary of tailors was roughly $29,000. Tailors in the top ten percentile earned around $42,000. District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, California and Arizona were the top five paying states for tailors in 2013. The top-paying industry for tailors is department stores with an average salary of $38,000 per year.

Career Requirements


Although there aren't any formal education requirements to be a tailor, educational training programs are available. You may find a few classes offered at community colleges and high schools. These courses provide an excellent introduction to the field of tailoring. In some circumstances, you might even find a school that offers a certificate program. Certificate programs will teach you how to construct pants, jackets and coats for a person's fit and style. By possessing post-secondary education, you'll demonstrate an added level of proficiency that many tailors haven't earned. If you're planning on opening your own shop, then you can also complete business courses to help prepare you for running your own establishment. Completing a certificate program allows graduates to transfer their credits into an associate's or bachelor's degree program.

However, the majority of tailors learn the trade by working under an experienced tailor. You'll normally receive informal training after you've been hired on as an assistant. Many aspiring tailors start out performing routine tasks around a business like cleaning floors or collecting supplies. In rare circumstances, you might be able to find a formal apprenticeship in tailoring.

What Are Employers Looking For?

Employers who are hiring tailors want someone with experience in the field. Tailors must also be willing to learn new techniques and help train new employees. Below you can find some information from real employers who posted job advertisements for tailors in April 2012.

  • A Minnesota tailoring business is interested in hiring someone with 1-2 years of previous tailoring experience.
  • A retailer in Florida wants a tailor willing to teach pressing and tailoring skills to other employees.
  • A tailor opening in Georgia requires applicants to be able to lift upwards of 25-50 lbs.
  • In Virginia, a tailoring job requires someone who is willing to learn new tailoring techniques on the job.

How Do You Stand Out?

Customer sensitivity is an important trait most employers want in tailors. Many people are uncomfortable being physically close to strangers, so a tailor has to put customers at ease in order to take measurements. Making someone feel comfortable can create a positive experience, which can lead to repeat business from the client. Additionally, possessing a precise eye for details is important for employers who want to maintain a quality reputation.

Other Career Paths

If you're interested in cleaning and maintaining clothes rather than making them, you could consider becoming a laundry worker. Employed in dry cleaners, hotels and other settings, a laundry worker takes clothing from a client and inspects the condition and cleanliness. The color and the stains of an item help decide which cleaning methods to use. After washing by hand or by using a laundry machine, the worker then dries the clothing and hangs it until the customer picks it up. The BLS reported in May 2011, that the average income of laundry workers was about $21,000. From 2010-2010, growth in employment opportunities for laundry workers was expected to be very limited.

If you're interested in designing your own clothes, you can become a fashion designer. In this occupation, you make preliminary sketches of your designs. With your initial idea in mind, you'll begin to select various patterns and fabrics to see what works best. Once you've showcased a created product, you'll try to market the item to retailers and oversee the final production of your clothing line. On average, fashion designers made about $74,000 per year, according to the BLS in May 2011. Fashion design careers were also expected to see little to no change in career opportunities from 2010-2020.

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