Dressmakers spend most of their careers either producing new garments or repairing old ones; those who do not work on their own are often employed by clothing manufacturers, tailors, dry cleaners, or retail stores. Although people have been practicing the craft for thousands of years, today’s distinct, expensive fabrics and designs require a bit of study to master. Many choose to learn how to manage these new materials and techniques in online fashion certificate programs.
Students of this craft generally find they can complete dressmaking certificate programs online in one year or less. The best programs offer a wide variety of classes covering both technical methods and design principles. Upon completion of the certificate, dressmakers are qualified to work in the industry or open their own shop; according to data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 20,200 people employed as tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers in 2014.
With most online certificates in dressmaking, students will learn the fundamentals of creating and altering a wide variety of garments. Working directly with their customers, some dressmakers, like those who work on bridal gowns, perform several fittings with the client and make many alterations before the work is completed. Others, who work for manufacturers, use large industrial machines to finish their work. Those who use expensive, fragile materials frequently do much of their work painstakingly, by hand. To enroll in a certificate program, dressmakers usually need to graduate from high school or hold a GED; most programs require a high school GPA of 2.0 or higher.
The typical dressmaking program will provide thorough instruction in a variety of techniques. At least one course in knitting and several in sewing will be required. The best programs offer specific courses that cover men’s, women’s, and/or children’s clothing design and construction. Alterations and custom tailoring is also usually covered. Many schools offer courses in business management, as well, to address the increasing number of dressmaking entrepreneurs.
What's Next for Dressmaking Certificate Holders?
Dressmakers who work for manufacturers and retail stores can expect an average annual salary of $29,170, according to data provided by the BLS. For those who successfully open their own shop with unique designs, however, the median salary in 2014 was $64,030. Clearly, these entrepreneurs were rewarded for the risk of striking out on their own.
Many certificate holders choose to continue their education and obtain an associate degree. Those who go even further in college and obtain a bachelor’s degree will earn even more money and have an even easier time getting a job.