What is this career about?
The majority of fashion jobs are currently retail jobs, and this makes sense. There is a far greater need to sell clothes and other items than there is a need to design and create them. Without sales, this industry would be nonexistent, so the retail part of this job is extremely important. Employees in this career path need to have a firm understanding of what the hottest and most current trends are, and they should have a good knack for helping others to see which trends work best for them and which do not. Because this is such a retail heavy career, having great people skills is also a big part of this job.
What growth is likely?
There are about 1.5 million individuals in the U.S. that work in this industry in some capacity. Growth is likely, although it is not expected to be moving as quickly as some other careers. Still, for someone that has a love of looking good and up to date, there are still plenty of chances for a great career in this field.
Many department stores have downsized recently, but the fashion industry is far from disappearing. There will always be a demand for clothing, shoes, jewelry, and accessories, and this goes for everyone across the board. Even if the demand for higher end goods goes down, there is still a need for basics, making this an essential industry. Online sales have changed the outlook of the range of careers here, but it has also created a number of new jobs and will continue to keep doing so.
Those starting out as sales associates or cashiers can expect to make a starting pay somewhere between minimum wage and $9 per hour. Sales associates do have opportunities to earn commissions for any sales made, especially at the higher end stores. This can help boost wages considerably. For nonsupervisory positions, pay is generally capped at about $12 per hour, although this may vary from location to location. For those in management roles, pay typically begins at about $16 an hour or the salaried equivalent of this. This may go up depending upon experience, and bonuses may be available depending upon job performance. In other words, your success in this field can largely be dependent upon your skill and your work ethic, which leaves the door wide open for profit potential. And because there are no formal education requirements within this career, it is easy for a skilled entry level employee to work his or her way up into management roles as they gain knowledge of the industry and experience.
How to succeed?
The first step in your success is to have a standout application. Many companies have their applications online right now, but not all, especially smaller or local companies. For these, it is important that you create a great first impression. When you go in, ensure that you are wearing brands that would be found in the store, or things of similar style. This shows that you have an eye for their products right off the bat. On top of this, be sure to act professionally and be polite. The hiring manager may be busy, and if so, don’t expect them to take time out of their day for you. Take an application, say thank you, and go home to fill it out. Be sure that you spend time thinking your answers out thoughtfully and answer everything completely and honestly.
Those that are most successful in this industry are those that have a good eye for fashion trends and are able to share that knowledge with others. This will help a lot for commission based jobs, especially if you have a great personality and are comfortable talking with a wide variety of people. Being friendly and upbeat is a key trait for success in this field, and being able to help other people look their best is a rare quality, but one that will help you to stand out over all of your peers in the field. This goes for every position in the industry, ranging from cashiers to associates, to customer service positions, and on upward.
Finally, be sure that you are doing what you can to keep up to date on the latest in fashion and keep tabs on any emerging trends. Having a subscription to fashion magazines can help you achieve this, as can reading some of the ever growing number of fashion blogs that currently exist. Ambitious people in this field may even want to consider starting their own blog to help keep themselves ahead of the crowds and gain more respect within the industry.
Who should apply?
There are no formal education requirements within the fashion industry, especially on the retail side of things. Some employers may require managers to have a college degree, but this is not a standardized role and is completely dependent upon the company itself. Most places prefer that employees be 18 years old and have a high school diploma or a GED, but there are many part time workers in this field as young as 16. Having a diploma can be helpful, but again, it is not a steadfast rule. If you have an interest in fashion and/or retail, there are plenty of job openings that you may want to consider. Having great people skills is also a plus for being considered in this field as there is a lot of interaction with others required in the majority of positions.
Being flexible in this career is a must. Many companies will prefer it that you have weekend and evening availability, so if you do have these open, you will have a bigger edge over others when applying for a job.