What Are the Highest Paying Fashion Jobs?

If you have an eye for style, are creative and are willing to pay your dues in order to gain experience, then you can take advantage of job opportunities with potentially large financial gains in the fast-paced fashion industry. Read on to learn about some career options in the field, as well as finding out how much you could make in each role. Schools offering Fashion Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Options

The fashion industry employs professionals in design, advertising, manufacturing, retailing and more. Your particular earnings in the fashion industry could be high or low, depending on a variety of factors, including occupation, years of experience, area of expertise, employer and location. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and PayScale.com, you'll find the highest-paying fashion jobs in Los Angeles and New York City. Job opportunities with the potential for a high level of earnings include designer, model, photographer, merchandiser and stylist.

Important Facts About the Fashion Industry

Designer Model Photographer Merchandiser (Purchasing Managers) Stylist
Job Outlook (2012-2022) 3% decline 15% growth 4% growth 4% growth Not specified
Similar Occupations Art Director, Graphic Designer, Industrial Designer Acting, Hairdressing, Cosmetology Desktop Publisher, Architect, Camera Operator Financial Manager, Advertising/Promotions/Marketing Manager Public Relations Specialist, Agent, Manager
Key Skills Artistic ability, creativity, detail oriented Being photogenic, having style, listening Artistic ability, interpersonal skills, detail oriented Negotiation, analytical, decision-making Creativity, fashion knowledge, staying up-to-date
On-the-Job Training Internships available Nothing specified Available as a photographer's assistant Available usually for the first year Internships available at design schools

Source: United States Bureau of Labor Statistics


As a fashion designer, you not only keep up with the latest fashion trends, but you often set them by creating new designs for clothing and accessories. The BLS notes that employers often prefer designers with an associate or bachelor's degree in fashion design. Although the BLS reported the median annual income of fashion designers to be $64,030 as of May 2014, the top 10% of designers earned $129,380 or more that same year. However, the bottom 10% of these professionals made $33,260 or less. Your salary could be on the lower end of this spectrum until you become somewhat established in the field.

The BLS reported in May 2014 that the apparel, piece goods and notions merchant wholesalers industry had the highest fashion designer employment level and offered an average wage of $69,940. New York employed the highest number of these professionals and offered an average wage of $80,890, while California offered an average wage of $73,270.


Models strut down runways, showing off clothing and accessories to potential buyers, and pose for photos used for promotional activities, such as catalog spreads and advertising pieces. If you are lucky enough to break into the A-list of the modeling world, you can expect to rake in some serious cash. According to Forbes Magazine's 2010 list of the world's top-earning models, the number one earner took home an estimated $25 million (www.forbes.com).

The median wage for models, however, was $19,970 as of May 2014, according to the BLS. Wages were $16,920 or less a year for the bottom 10% of workers and $49,630 or higher for the top 10%. Clothing stores employed the most models and paid them an average wage of $20,310. Texas was the top state of employment and offered an average wage of $19,830. Wisconsin offered the highest average wage of $57,870.


In a fashion photographer role, you work closely with art directors, models and makeup artists to create the perfect image for your client. Once you're known as an established photographer, you might get to work with some of the top fashion designers and travel to exotic locations for fashion shoots. In September 2015, PayScale.com showed that reporting fashion photographers had an income range of $24,148-$362,245, with the median salary being $48,165.

The BLS reported that the other professional, scientific and technical services industry employed the highest number of photographers in May 2014 and offered an average wage of $33,820. On the other hand, those working in radio and television broadcasting earned a higher average wage of $44,370. California and New York, which were the states employing the most photographers, offered respective average wages of $52,750 and $54,030.


Your main purpose as a fashion merchandiser is to promote fashion merchandise by analyzing target markets, creating attractive visual presentations, determining customer demand and distributing fashion products. With a focus more on the business aspect of the fashion industry, this role requires completion of a degree program within the field. Most fashion merchandisers reporting to PayScale.com in September 2015 had a salary range of $19,661-$99,666. The median salary at that time was $49,032.


You could be responsible for the look of your local news anchor or the hottest actor on a hit television show. Fashion stylists coordinate the fashion, accessories and sets for visual media, including movie productions, television shows and catalog spreads. As of September 2015, personal fashion stylists reporting to PayScale.com earned between $20,408 and $129,142 annually. The median salary for these professionals was $39,235. In addition, the same source reported that assistant fashion stylists earned between $15,712 and $59,180 in September 2015. The median salary for them was $38,793.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:

Popular Schools

  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Penn Foster Career School

    Penn Foster Career School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster Career School:

    Online Programs Available

  • Independence University

    Independence University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Independence University:

    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Penn Foster High School

    Penn Foster High School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

  • Visual College of Art and Design

    Visual College of Art and Design responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Visual College of Art and Design:

    • Certificates

    Campus Locations:

    • Anywhere: Vancouver
  • CDI College

    CDI College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at CDI College:

    • Certificates

    Campus Locations:

    • Anywhere: Abbotsford, Calgary, Edmonton, Laval, Longueuil, Mississauga, Montreal, North York, Point Claire, Quebec, Scarborough, Surrey, Toronto, Winnipeg
  • Michigan State University

    Campus Locations:

    • Michigan: East Lansing
  • Howard University

    Campus Locations:

    • Columbia (D.C.): Washington
  • Iowa State University

    Campus Locations:

    • Iowa: Ames