What Is the Salary Range for Entry-Level Fashion Designers?

If you're lucky enough to launch your own clothing or accessory line and establish yourself as a powerhouse designer in the fashion industry you could possibly earn hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions. However, a very small percentage of talented fashion designers achieve that kind of financial success. Read on for information on what you could bring in as an entry-level fashion designer. Schools offering Fashion Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Salary Overview

Fashion designers utilize their creativity to create the apparel, shoes and accessories that we wear every day, as well as designing the elite fashion ensembles seen during high-profile runway shows. The salary range for entry-level fashion designers is pretty expansive and depends upon your individual ability, your design specialty and your employer. Self-employment and freelance opportunities are also available.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as an aspiring fashion designer, you can expect to face keen competition within the field due to the amount of individuals drawn to the industry because of its 'glitz-and-glamour' quality (www.bls.gov). A tough job market often leads to lower salaries; however, successful designers can earn a six-figure income with persistence and dedication. The BLS reported that the average wage for fashion designers of all levels was $73,690 in May 2014.

Important Facts About Fashion Designers

Job Outlook (2012-2022)-3%
Required EducationBachelor's degree
On-the-Job TrainingInternship
Similar OccupationsGraphic designer, buyer, art director

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Salaries for Entry-Level Opportunities

Completing a degree program in fashion design can provide the foundational knowledge needed to begin your career. Common entry-level job opportunities include positions as design room assistants, pattern makers or assistant designers. According to PayScale.com as of September 2015, the middle 80% of assistant fashion designers earned an annual income between $26,674 and $51,520. The same source reported that the middle 80% of all fashion designers with between one and four years of experience made $34,655-$98,819 in September 2015.

Salaries by Industry

According to the BLS, fashion designers working for apparel, piece goods and notions merchant wholesalers earned an average wage of $69,940 in May 2014. Those working in cut and sew apparel manufacturing earned a higher average wage of $82,630. The company and enterprise management industry paid a much higher average wage of $90,020, while specialized design services paid an average wage of $68,460. Those employed by clothing stores were paid an average wage of $71,490.

Salaries by Location

Most fashion designers worked in New York and California in May 2014, and the BLS reported average salaries for these locations of $80,890 and $73,270, respectively. Both of these states were included in the five top-paying states in the country at that time. Other states with high average wages included Massachusetts ($76,870), New Jersey ($74,070) and New Hampshire ($73,210). Average pay was $80,970 in the New York City metro area and $74,340 in the Los Angeles, CA, metro area.

Career Advancement

With experience under your belt and a demonstrated ability to succeed within the fashion industry, you may advance to supervisory positions, such as chief fashion designer. Most chief fashion designers earned an annual income between $43,609 and $189,473 in September 2015, according to PayScale.com.

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:

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  • Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design

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      • Bachelor - Interior Design
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  • Remington College

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  • Iowa State University

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  • Howard University

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

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    • Michigan: East Lansing
  • Texas Tech University

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    • Texas: Lubbock