Fashion Buyer: Education Requirements and Career Information

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a fashion buyer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and salary expectations to find out if this is the career for you.

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Essential Information

Fashion buyers are responsible for choosing apparel and related products for retail companies to sell. Buyers analyze fashion and sales trends to predict which items will be in highest demand and purchase them at the lowest possible prices. This job often involves travel, and long hours are common. Education requirements aren't standard for fashion buyers, but most employers prefer workers who hold at least bachelor's degrees in business, marketing or a relevant field.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in marketing, business or related field recommended
Projected Job Growth7% from 2012-2022 for all non-farm product wholesale and retail buyers*
Median Salary (2014) $70,000 annually*

Sources: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), PayScale.com**.

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 relations 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.

PayScale.com reported that fashion buyers earned a median salary of $70,000 in September 2014. In May 2013, all wholesale and retail buyers except those who buy farm products earned a median salary of $52,370, according to the BLS. Buyers may also earn bonuses based on 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 2012-2022. Candidates with master's degrees and professional certifications may experience more job opportunities.

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