Fashion designing is an exciting career choice that allows designers to create clothing and accessories. They study fashion trends, sketch designs, select colors, fabrics and styles, and create prototypes. There are many advantages to choosing a career in fashion design, including the salary range and the freedom to create cutting-edge designs. Fashion designing also provides opportunities for travel and exposure to fashion trends and ideas.
Fashion designers earned a mean annual wage of $72,620 as of May 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is much higher than the average $45,790 annual mean wage of all U.S. occupations. However, the median annual wage for fashion designers was $62,860, which means that 50 percent of these professionals earn more and 50 percent earn less than this amount. The difference between the median and mean shows that fashion designers at the high end of the pay spectrum inflate the overall average. The top 10 percent of earners made $126,290 a year or more, while the bottom 10 percent of workers made $34,110 or less.
Minimum Formal Education
Those who don’t like school will be glad to know that there are no extensive educational requirements to pursue a career in fashion designing. A high school diploma is the minimum requirement, although some designers earn a 2-year or a 4-year degree in fashion merchandising or a related field. Fashion designers who display the creativity to produce imaginative and practical designs, and also have the artistic ability to sketch initial design ideas, are most appealing to employers.
Exciting Work Environment
More than half of U.S. fashion designers are concentrated in the New York and Los Angeles metro areas, both of which are leading centers of culture, entertainment and commerce. Most fashion designers travel to trade and fashion shows several times a year, and sometimes they travel to other countries to meet with manufacturers and suppliers. In addition, fashion designers get to express their vision and creativity in ways that professionals in many other jobs can't. Although the BLS expects stagnant job growth in fashion design from 2010 to 2020, there will be opportunities in specialized design firms and for fashion designers who are self-employed. The need for comfortable, functional, budget-friendly styles, as well as designs that utilize new fabrics such as moisture-wicking material, will help drive demand for new jobs.
Trendsetting and Entrepreneurship
Fashion designing offers the opportunity to be a trendsetter and an entrepreneur. As an example, the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s website features a monthly spotlight highlighting designers. The October 2013 spotlight was Eugenia Kim, who went from designing hats for “bad hair days” to winning the CFDA Award for Accessories Design for avant-garde headwear that graces the cover of Vogue, ELLE and other fashion magazines. In addition, Entrepreneur magazine published a list of the new faces of fashion entrepreneurship. These individuals were successful in creating niche markets, some of which resulted in annual revenue ranging from $20 million to $100 million.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2012: Fashion Designers
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wage News Release
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Fashion Designers
- Council of Fashion Designers of America: The CFDA and Editorialist Spotlight: Eugenia Kim
- Entrepreneur Magazine: The New Faces of Entrepreneurship
- Siri Stafford/Photodisc/Getty Images