It's been an exciting couple of months for the fashion industry. The kickoff of awards season in January had fashion lovers glued to their TV screens, critiquing the best- and worst-dressed on the red carpet.
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week had fashionistas everywhere going gaga over designers' fall 2012 ready-to-wear collections. And while the average fashion lover doesn't get to hobnob with celebrities at awards soirées or rub elbows with fashion's finest at designer runway shows, that doesn't mean a career in fashion is unattainable.
1. Retail salesperson: A good way to get some fashion experience is to start by working as a salesperson at a clothing store. As a salesperson, you have exposure to the buying, styling and customer-service sides of the business. And while having a background in retail can help when pursuing other fashion-related jobs, it's not to say you can't build a successful career in retail. Salespeople can go on to management or corporate positions within the company.
National average salary: $25,557*
2. Visual merchandiser: If you have a good eye and are interested in how a visual display can help sell a product, consider a career in visual merchandising. According to occupational information source O*Net, visual merchandisers plan commercial displays, develop and create window decorations and coordinate with the communications and sales teams to ensure cohesion across all campaigns, among other duties. Education usually includes either a bachelor's or associate degree in visual or fashion merchandising. Prior experience in retail is also helpful.
National average salary: $36,865
3. Stylist: If you're a fan a Rachel Zoe or her former-assistant-turned-stylist-competition Brad Goreski, you have a sense of what a stylist is. As a fashion stylist, you may be in charge of such things as identifying the location for a photo shoot, picking the wardrobe for a magazine's fashion spread, and pulling outfits for clients to wear at events. Most stylists start by becoming an assistant or apprentice to an independent stylist or a company. Once they have more experience, many become independent stylists themselves. While a degree in fashion design or marketing is helpful, having prior retail or fashion work experience can also help you get a foot in the door.
National average salary: $66,986
4. Personal shopper: According to the retail section of About.com, the typical job of a personal shopper involves being up on the latest trends while also having a deep understanding of their clients' style. Personal shoppers need to establish and foster relationships with their clientele to ensure they get repeat business, and many rely on word of mouth from satisfied clients to grow their business. Personal shoppers may own their own company or work for a retail or department store that offers such services.
National average salary: $38,514
5. Writer for fashion website, magazine or blog: If you love both writing and fashion, consider seeking out opportunities with a fashion magazine, website or blog. In this role, you could do anything from interviewing designers, to writing trend reports, to attending and reviewing fashion shows. One way to dip your toe into this field is to pursue freelance work. With media outlets shrinking the size of their staffs, they've had to rely on freelancers to help fill their pages or posts. The education of a fashion writer may include a bachelor's degree in journalism, with some previous fashion background or experience.
National average salary: $60,493 (writer at a magazine)
6. Fashion-focused public relations specialist: Another way to satiate your fashion craving is to conduct public relations work for a fashion label or clothing store. Such roles can be found in the marketing or communications department at a fashion company or at a public relations agency. Some agencies specialize in fashion PR, while others have a variety of clients, including fashion and retail. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the public relations field is expected to grow much faster than average, but competition for entry-level jobs is high.
National average salary: $60,379
7. Fashion photographer: A photograph, whether used in advertising or editorial, has the power to define a brand, state a point of view and sell a product. As a photographer for the fashion industry, assignments may vary from magazine editorial photo shoots, to print advertisements for a brand, to images for a company's catalog or look book. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, "photojournalists or industrial or scientific photographers generally need a college degree. Freelance and portrait photographers need technical proficiency, gained through a degree, training program or experience."
National average salary: $52,499 (general photographer)
8. Interior designer: Interior designers need many of the same skills as someone in fashion -- a creative eye; an understanding of how to mix colors, shapes and styles; and the ability to bring a client's vision to life. According to O*Net, interior designers, "plan, design and furnish interiors of residential, commercial or industrial buildings. Many specialize in a particular field, style or phase of interior design."
National average salary: $58,779