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Fashion Buyer: Education Requirements and Career Information

Fashion buyers are responsible for choosing the products retail companies sell. Buyers analyze fashion and sales trends to predict which items will be in highest demand and purchase them at the lowest possible prices.

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Fashion Buyer Education Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are no strict education requirements for becoming a buyer, but employers typically prefer applicants with a college degree (www.bls.gov). Candidates with bachelor's degrees in business, marketing or merchandising may enjoy higher employment opportunities. Students should select courses that focus on sales forecasting, business operations, commerce and inventory.

Buyers new to the industry often continue their education in the field by participating in training programs led by experienced buyers. Beginning buyers generally start out as assistant buyers and work their way up by completing a variety of tasks, such as selling, processing invoices and managing inventory.

Fashion Buyer Career Information

A fashion buyer's main duty is to select and purchase products, according to market trends, customer demands and sales forecasts, which a retailer will sell. Buyers also try to maximize profits by obtaining the highest quality products at the lowest costs. Public relation skills are important because buyers work closely with fashion designers, manufacturers and wholesalers. Buyers are often required to travel extensively to visit clients and vendors.

According to BLS, buyers employed by small retailers are usually responsible for deciding the store's entire merchandise assortment, whereas buyers for large retailers may specialize in one type of merchandise, such as women's outerwear or men's suits.

In May 2012, purchasing managers who worked in the apparel industry earned a mean income of $73,240 per year, according to BLS. Buyers may also earn bonuses according to job performance and retailer profits. Other benefits include vacation and sick time, pension and insurance plans and employee discounts on merchandise.

According to BLS, employment for retail buyers is expected to increase only seven percent from 2010-2020. Candidates with master's degrees and professional certifications may experience more job opportunities.

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