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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. Apprenticeships are more commonly found in cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, where fashion schools and fashion designers are frequently located.

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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 to recent college graduates, current college students and even 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 (www.intruefashion.org).

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 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.

What Are the Career Prospects?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that fashion designers earned a median annual salary of $62,860 in May 2012 (www.bls.gov). They held about 22,000 jobs that year, with the highest percentage of fashion designers working in New York and California. Employment growth was predicted to decline for fashion designers. Between 2012 and 2022, they could expect a three percent decrease in jobs, according to the BLS.

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