Seamstress Careers: Job Description & Salary Information

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What are the pros and cons of a career as a seamstress? Get real career prospects and salary information to decide if becoming a seamstress is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career as a Seamstress

Seamstresses, who may be required to sew by hand or use a sewing machine, have access to a variety of career opportunities after developing their sewing and design skills. Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of this career.

Pros of a Seamstress Career
Entry-level jobs require a high school diploma*
Workers have an opportunity to learn from skilled professionals*
The skills employed by a seamstress could lead to careers in theater and television costume design*
Demand for custom jewelry is high*

Cons of a Seamstress Career
A seamstress, tailor or garment assembler may be required to stand 7-8 hours per day**
Employment of seamstresses and tailors is expected decline (two percent employment decrease projected between 2012 and 2022)*
A career as a seamstress or tailor could be stressful, as these professionals are commonly self-employed*
Seamstresses can work irregular hours, including evenings and weekends with tight deadlines**

Sources: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Career job posting

Career Information

Career Paths

In the field of apparel manufacturing, there are multiple jobs that encompass the skills of a seamstress, including tailors and custom sewers. These professionals may sew by hand or use a sewing machine. Often, these careers require nothing more than a high school diploma.

For custom seamstresses who often sew their creations by hand, manual dexterity, steadiness and attention to detail are very important skills. These professionals must be comfortable using a variety of tools - a needle and thread or an industrial sewing machine.

Salary Info

The BLS reported that in May 2013, there were 21,400 individuals working as tailors, dressmakers or custom sewers in the United States. In the same year, the BLS reported that the average salary for these positions was $29,330. The BLS also noted that there was 5,700 hand sewers employed across the country, with an average salary of $24,720.

Job Postings From Real Employers

From everyday casual wear to wedding dresses and suits, any garment may need alteration or repair. Professional seamstresses and tailors work on a variety of clothing items in tailor shops, boutiques or even industrial facilities. When it comes to employment advertisements, you may see companies looking for seamstresses, hand sewers or tailors. Here are some advertisements published in March 2012:

  • A Minnesota company is looking for sewers and to work on garments for medical patients. The ideal candidate will pass a pre-employment screening and have hand sewing experience.
  • An Arizona company wants a seamstress with experience using industrial sewing machines and measuring patterns to work as a production seamstress.
  • A Pennsylvania boutique is looking for someone with more than five years experience to work as a part-time seamstress.

How to Maximize Your Skills

Continuing Education

A job as a seamstress doesn't require more education than a high school diploma, but for those wishing to stand out, one option is to earn a certificate in garment construction, tailoring or custom dressmaking from a community college. These short-term certificate programs require anywhere from 12-42 credit hours and may be completed in as little as two years. Common courses in these programs include fashion sketching, patternmaking and study of textiles.

Develop Your Skills and Gain Experience

Employers often seek seamstresses with general sewing skills or experience with industrial sewing machines. They also want individuals with a background in tailoring and sewing. Some school programs require that students complete internships in costume design or tailoring.

Alternative Career Paths

Fashion Designer

Fashion designers have a hand in shaping cultural trends - if you want to be part of that, and if you're willing to attend school a bit longer, a career in fashion design could indulge your desire to work with clothing and create new designs for individuals to wear. Colleges and universities offer bachelor's degree programs in fashion design that require presentation of a portfolio and completion of an internship.

Students learn about topics like 2-D patternmaking, draping and use of computer programs to aid in fashion design. They learn about running a fashion-oriented company and show their fashions as well. Although the BLS predicted no change in employment for these professionals from 2010-2020, but you could earn a higher salary with an average of $73,930 reported in 2011.


If jewelry is your passion and you're an independent sort of person, you might consider a career as a jeweler. You could make your own jewelry or design custom pieces for clients, or, you could find a position as a bench jeweler, working in a retail outlet.

Jewelers often need just a high school diploma and have skills similar to a seamstress. A jeweler must have manual dexterity, hand-eye coordination and patience. Although the field is expected to experience a five percent decline in employment, this profession also offers a higher salary and the average was $38,200 in 2011.

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