How to Become a Tailor

Tailor Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $27,880
Avg. Pay / hour $13.40
Education 2-4 Years
Job Outlook -10%

The majority of clothing is created for the masses and uses standard measurements based on the average client.

This can mean that a consumer may have to buy an article of clothing not suited to their exact measurements.

Tailors are experienced in making modifications and alterations to make better fitting clothes for their clients.

Their experienced hands can help their clients feel more comfortable in the clothes they wear.

A professional Tailor is a perfect person to fix and alter clothing that fits their clients better.

They know the different types of fabrics and know the best techniques to use on them to make alterations.

Tailors may also make clothing for their clients from scratch using patterns and a client’s measurements.

A Tailor is experienced in determining the best fit for a client and making the best fitting clothes for individuals.

Continue reading the information below to learn how to become a Tailor.

You will find information regarding the education requirements, a general job description, salary and wage data, and the projected job outlook.

Education Requirements to Become a Tailor

Students who want to become a Tailor need a minimum of a high school diploma or its equivalent such as a GED.

The majority of Tailors learn their skills with on-the-job training.

Some candidates learn their skills while in high school take elective courses to improve their skills.

In addition, candidates wanting to enter this profession can take classes at community classes to enhance their background.

Students who want to pursue this career while learning on the job will need to work on a certain skill set in order to be competitive in the field.

Custom Tailors typically gain their experience by working in design, apparel production, or alteration.

Tailors who perform alterations also gain experience by observing more experienced workers.

Other important skills a Tailor must have include having extensive knowledge regarding design, apparel construction, and extensive knowledge of fabric.

Because the majority of Tailors are self-employed, having an understanding of some basic business principles such as marketing should help some Tailors succeed.

In addition, Tailors should have the ability to take a client’s request and make alterations based on the given information.

Tailor Job Description

These professionals begin their work by performing measurements of their clients.

Depending on the article of clothing they are altering, they will provide measurements for the following body parts:

  • Shoulders
  • Arms
  • Inseam
  • Waist
  • Neck

For creating new articles of clothing, these measurements will give a Tailor an idea of how to cut the fabric.

For simple alterations such as fixing the hem of a sleeve or pant leg, a Tailor will have the client put on the clothes and then determine the best fit that would make them comfortable.

Because the majority of Tailors are self-employed, they may also have to do their own administrative and marketing work in order to attract more clientele.

Tailor Salary and Career Path

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median hourly wage in 2019 for Tailors was approximately $16.60.

That is an annual salary of $34,530 assuming a Tailor works a 40-hour workweek.

The exact wage and annual salary will depend on several factors including geographical location, expertise in the field and the number of hours or clothing produced.

In addition, employees who are a part of unions typically make higher wages than those who are not represented.

Job opportunities for those who want to become a Tailor are expected to experience little to no change; the rest of this industry, however, is projected to decline rapidly.

The industry as a whole will lose roughly 34 percent of job opportunities.

Through the year 2018, tailoring jobs will decrease by about 2 percent.

Lowered consumer demand for handmade clothing is affecting the job prospects for these professionals.

However, candidates who still want to become a Tailor should look for employment or jobs through high-end stores or personal clients who have the expendable income to afford this luxury service.

Job prospects should be good for Tailors that look for clients interested in one-of-a-kind clothing or handmade apparel.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
New Hampshire$31,270
New Jersey$40,540
New York$51,830
North Carolina$27,800
South Carolina$23,750
Puerto Rico$21,610

The top earning state in the field is New York, where the average salary is $51,830.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

New York - $51,830
Washington - $43,750
Connecticut - $42,490
Hawaii - $41,880
Arizona - $41,620
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Tailors, Dressmakers, and Custom Sewers, OCC Code 51-6052, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a tailor do?

A tailor is someone who creates a new item of clothing or alters existing garments so that they fit the clients perfectly.

Tailors might work for dry cleaners, manufacturers, and department stores.

Professionals know exactly how to measure the client; after that, they measure and cut fabric, hem garments, sew by hand or using a sewing machine, and ensure that the clothing piece sits well.

Some tailors might specialize in one type of clothing (like men’s suits, for example).

Tailors can also specialize in a certain type of material (like fur).

If a professional works for a client or a designer, he has to ensure that the finished pieces translate the idea and the vision of the customer.

How much do tailors make?

In the United States, tailors annually earn $31.000 on average.

If you are just getting started you can expect to make a little more than $20.000 per year.

Top-level tailors earn over $53.000 and more.

Typically, a mid-level tailor can expect to make around $15 per hour.

Your salary would certainly depend on who you work for.

Tailors working for well-known designers can earn much more than the average wage.

How much does it cost to become a tailor?

You can acquire a degree in one of the related fields (like fashion or fashion and textiles, for example).

An associate’s or bachelor’s degree will cost you up to $21.000 per term.

However, the majority choose to take a certification course as it will provide you with more specific knowledge.

The costs will differ depending on the state.

In New York, for example, you can get a certificate in ladies tailoring for anywhere between $470 and $1.470.

The books and supplies will additionally cost you $600-$900.

You can also go for an online school that would end up being a bit cheaper.

The whole course can cost you around $800.

What is the demand for tailors?

Unfortunately, the tailor job market is expected to decrease by 10% (between 2016 and 2026).

There are only a few states where the industry is heavily concentrated (New York, Texas, California).

The competition is high and the overall employment opportunities are quite poor.

Nowadays, there are a little more than 44.000 tailors in the USA.

The number will continue to decrease and in only a decade, the nation will lose around 800 tailors and over 3.700 of existing tailors will retire.

How long does it take to become a tailor?

An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in one of the related fields will take you 2-4 years to acquire.

You might want to go for certification programs that typically last for a few semesters and offer more specific knowledge (like sewing and textiles or pattern cutting, for example).

Consider entering one of the apprenticeship programs.

An advanced apprenticeship in tailoring can take 2-6 years to complete, but you will have the opportunity to get a job in a tailoring company straight away.

You can always try working as an assistant and gain the necessary experience as you go.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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