One way to explore this career is to arrange for a personal visit to an image consultant. The Association of Image Consultants International, for example, offers lists of qualified consultants throughout the world at its Web site, https://www.aici.org/search/custom.asp?id=1140. Contact a few to see if they will participate in an information interview. Here are some questions to ask:
Read books on color, fabrics, style, etiquette, and body language. Ask your school librarian to suggest some titles.
Any part-time job working with the public is valuable. You can gain excellent experience from selling clothing or cosmetics in department stores, from working in beauty salons or spas, or from working as a waitperson. Volunteer work that involves working with people will also help you hone your people skills.
Image consultants work with clients that range from individuals who are interested in improving their image (to increase their chances of landing a job or getting promoted) to some of the country's largest corporations (offering corporate programs and interactive workshops to their employees). They may also provide services to nonprofit organizations or government agencies that seek to improve their employees' overall presentation and professionalism. Training sessions deal with such topics as making a good first impression, everyday etiquette, developing self-esteem and confidence, verbal communication, body language and facial expression, overall appearance, and visual presentation. Consultants also may learn to coach clients on dealing with the public and the media.
The Association of Image Consultants International says that the field of image consulting has grown to include the following specialties:
It can be very satisfying to help others look better and feel good about themselves. Clients who receive professional image consultations have experienced such benefits as stronger executive presence, improved business and social etiquette, healthy awareness of their verbal and nonverbal presence, and an increase in professional and social networks.
Many image consultants are entrepreneurs, meaning that they own and manage their businesses. There are many advantages to owning your own business, such as flexible hours, controlling your own time, and opportunity for personal growth and development. On the other hand, it can be challenging to constantly be on the hunt for new clients while providing quality services to their existing clientele. Self-employed individuals also do not have the security of a regular paycheck.