THE ULTIMATE IMAGE CONSULTING CAREER GUIDE
What is an image consultant?
An individual who works with people to change, refine or enhance their appearance, behavior, communication or digital footprint. Through a variety of services, they utilize these concepts of image to pull together an authentic and cohesive personal brand to serve the clients personal or professional goals. Ever wondered what an image consultant actually does, or how to become an image consultant?
An image consultant strategically assesses some or all of the ABCD’s of a clients’ image:
Appearance is an important factor and where we often start when looking at the overall image. You would think this would be as simple as telling a client to wear this and not that, but there is so much more to this step. Color consulting, style that matches your current profession and your personality, fabric types and care, menswear and suits, boardroom attire, cost and your current closet, hairstyles and makeup and so much more all make up the appearance that a client puts out into the world and uses to their advantage. There is a lot to learn in this arena.
This is where Image Consulting starts to take on a much different thread than your typical Wardrobe or Personal Stylist because it is beginning to shape and cultivate an overall image and not just the one that shows up on the outside and is seen by all. Behavior is just as important as your outside image because the outside image only breaks the surface of what you put out into the world.
Behavior is all about attitude. Does your attitude reflect the position that you are in? Are you leading by example? Examining a client’s current behaviors and realigning them with the image they want to create and project is where the Image Consultant comes into play. This leads us into the next step that any good Image Consultant will follow up with.
Communication is another factor in making sure your clients image is in line with the position they have now, but also the position they want to aspire to be in. One of the best things about communication is that while it may not be something your client does well now, it is something that can be taught and learned and this is where any good Image Consultant comes in.
Teaching communication skills is not as easy as saying “Hey, just say it this way.” You must get to know your client so you can effectively find ways to improve on the communication skills they already have and also help them find new ways to contribute and set themselves apart from the pack.
In the digital age we live in, many do not understand the importance of maintaining a footprint on the web that reflects an image they want to show to the world. One post, one comment, one share or one photo can damage a reputation quickly. It is up to the Image Consultant to round out their client’s overall image by hitting on this specific target.
They can help their clients review what currently is being seen online by others and how they can be sure what they are sharing and how they are sharing it is part of the larger picture that is their image and often what others may be seeing before they even meet them in person. Google can be your friend or your worse enemy.
Career Requirements to become an Image Consultant
|None; training programs and degrees available|
Common Degree Fields
|Image consulting, marketing, mass communications, or public relations|
|Experience varies by position; some jobs may be entry-level|
|Strong communication skills & the ability to easily understand clients' needs and construct action plans to fulfill those needs.|
Median (US) Salary
|$56,474 (2016 median salary for all PR consultants). Yearly pay depends largely on individual rates and how much a fashion consultant works|
Sources: Association of Image Consultants International, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, PayScale.com
Other Industry Stats:
- Hourly rates range from $50 – $500 – Bureau of Labor Statistics
- 2016 Growing Niche Market for Consultants – TheBalance.com
- Personal Shopping Services alone is a $762 million market – IBISWorld Research
Education & Experience Requirements to become an Image Consultant
There is no education requirement to become an image consultant. However, relevant synonymous degrees and/or a specialized certification in image consulting is highly desirable to establish value and credibility. It is important you cultivate the necessary business and entrepreneurship skills as the vast majority fo image consultants are in business for themselves. This career is not typically offered as a position within companies or organizations.
Other titles and/or areas of service under the Image Consulting umbrella:
- Wardrobe Consultant
- Corporate Consultant
- Workshop Speaker
- Body Language Expert
- Fashion Editorial Stylist
- Etiquette Consultant
- Personal Coach
- Lifestyle Development
- Personal Branding Specialist
- Public Speaking Coach
- Political Consultant
- Celebrity Stylist
The problems image consultants are solving for their clients:
- Lack of style.
- Hate Getting Ready.
- Hate Shopping.
- Spending Too Much on Clothes They Don’t Love.
- Don’t know their colors.
- Lack of self-confidence.
- Body Image Issues.
- Needing Exposure.
- Needing Revenue.
- Poor Social Skills.
- Networking Help.
- Speech help.
- Poor Grooming.
- Lack of Professional Etiquette.
- Minimal Social Media Skills.
- Poor First Impression.
- Lacking Audience Connection.
A detailed look at some of the skills needed to become an image consultant and for the job
- Professional Communication.
- Body, Line & Proportion Theory.
- Color Theory.
- Streamlined process and system for closet editing, personal shopping and styling.
- Personal Style Definition.
- Life Coaching.
- Political Experience.
- Body Language Education.
- Etiquette Education.
- Public Speaking.
- Traditional Marketing.
- Digital Marketing.
- Social Media Marketing.
- General Accounting.
- Project Management.
- Business Administration.
- Legal Requirements.
- Website & Graphic Design.
- Copywriting and Blogging.
Working hours and environment
The majority of image consultants do their administrative work from home and travel to visit their clients at their home or work. Many image consultants travel outside their region to work with clients and/or perform seminars or training.
Working hours as an image consultant vary, depending on if they are part-time or full-time. As an image consultant, you are operating your own business so setting a schedule is highly dependent on your personal work style.
On average, most full-time image consultants are working with clients 1 – 2 days a week and spend the rest of their week traveling, marketing, and managing their business.
Steps to become an Image Consultant
1. Market Research and Competitor Analyses
Start your career by first researching the industry and identifying active image consultants in your region. Often, many aspiring consultants reach out to experienced consultants for interviews and/or to job shadow them. Occasionally, there may be internship or apprenticeship opportunities available with existing image consultants and image consulting firms.
2. Acquire the Necessary Training or Credentials
It is highly recommended that aspiring image consultants seek and acquire an industry specific certification in image consulting. There are several trainers across the globe and certification training varies from short hands-off 3-day programs to months-long intensive training. We recommend finding a credible trainer who can show successful case studies and testimonials from previous students. We also recommend that you find a trainer whose mission, outlook, and experience in the industry resonates with your own values and professional goals.
3. Start your Business
It is expected that if you want a successful career in image consulting, you are to become self-employed and start a business. Upon successful completion of a certification or training program, you are ready to start a business and begin taking on clients. Several certification providers (including the Studio For Image Professionals) have built in the necessary business-building skills and training into their courses so that while you are getting your credentials, you are simultaneously setting up your business with the assistance of professionals. There are also endless resources, tools, and experts at your disposal online and offline who can assist you in setting up your business, through paid assistance or through free offerings.
4. Network through your local community and/or by joining relevant organizations.
The most important next step after you have acquired your credentials and have started your business is to begin building your network. We recommend looking into your region for networking opportunities or ways to engage in your community. There are also professional organizations nationally and internationally for those interested in joining image-specific industry associations or public speaking associations, for example.