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 57,500 people employed as dressmakers in 2010.

Types of Dressmaking Certificates

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 a median annual salary of $25,850, according to data provided by the BLS; similarly, those who work for tailors and in drycleaners can expect a similar wage. For those who successfully open their own shop with unique designs, however, the median salary in 2010 was $64,530. 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. According to a report by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, those who obtain an associate degree will earn roughly $180,000 more over their lifetimes than an individual with a certificate as his/her highest education. Associate degree holders are also more likely to be employed; in 2012, those with associate degrees had a 20% greater chance of finding work over those with vocational certificates.

Likewise, those who go even further in college and obtain a degree inĀ fashion design will earn even more money and have an even easier time getting a job. In 2012, bachelor’s degree holders had an unemployment rate of only 4.5%, compared to the unemployment rate of 7.7% for those who held vocational certificates. Furthermore, in 2012, bachelor’s degree holders earned a median weekly salary that was 47% higher than their neighbors who stopped their education with a certificate.