Tailors repair or modify articles of clothing for clients, either by hand or with machines. At the time of publication, most tailors make an average salary of under $30,000 a year, but some tailors make closer to $40,000. Despite fairly low pay, tailors enjoy helping clients get the perfect fit that improves appearance and can be creative in how they alter clothes.
In 2010, the average compensation for a tailor was $28,360 a year, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Viewed hourly, the average was $13.36. This represents an increase from 2009 to 2010 of 1.6 percent. The bureau further indicates that the lowest earners made $17,630 annually in 2010. The top-paid tailors made $42,030. These figures translate to hourly rates of $8.48 to $20.21, respectively.
The majority of tailors worked in clothing stores in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In this sector, pay was $29,790, which was above the national average. Other high-employing sectors included drycleaning and laundry services, personal and household goods repair and maintenance, cut and sew apparel manufacturing and department stores. Salaries ranged from $24,030 to $35,960 in these sectors.
Top-pay in 2010 for tailors was in the management of companies and enterprises sector, where pay was $38,980 per year. Department stores, local government, colleges, universities and professional schools, and miscellaneous durable goods merchant wholesalers also gave good rates for the industry, providing salaries between $32,310 and $35,960.
The top pay for tailors in 2010 was in New York, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Annual pay in this state was $33,460. New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware and California rounded out the top-paying list with salaries between $31,520 and $33,210 in these regions. The lowest pay was in Montana, which saw an average salary of $18,720. Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Alabama had rates between $19,990 and $21,540.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the overall textile, apparel and furnishings industry will decline much faster than average -- by 14 percent -- from 2008 to 2018. Although it does not expect tailors to be as hard-hit by the decline of the industry, the bureau still expects the tailor sector to see a decline of two percent. Only upholsterers and laundry and dry-cleaning workers have better projections.
Even though salaries and wages for tailors are on the low end, many larger employers offer significant discounts to their tailors. Tailors who are self-employed, which represented about 43 percent of the field in 2008, have better control over their rates and how many clients they take, but must provide their own benefits. The high rate of turnover in the industry means that it is still possible to get a job as a tailor even as growth of the industry slows.