How to Advance (Advancement)
Beginning fashion designers usually start out as pattern makers or sketching assistants for more experienced designers before advancing to higher level positions. Experienced designers may advance to chief designer, design department head, or another supervisory position. Some designers may start their own design company, or sell their designs in their own retail stores. A few of the most successful designers can work for high-fashion design houses that offer personalized design services to wealthy clients.
Fashion designers held about 22,700 jobs in 2008. About 31 percent of fashion designers worked for apparel, piece goods, and notions merchant wholesalers; and 13 percent worked for apparel manufacturers. Many others were self employed.
Employment of fashion designers tends to be concentrated in regional fashion centers. In 2008, the highest numbers of fashion designers were employed in New York and California.
Little or no change in employment is projected. Competition for jobs is expected to be keen as many applicants are attracted to the creativity and glamour associated with the occupation.
Employment of fashion designers is projected to grow by 1 percent between 2008 and 2018. Some new jobs will arise from an increasing population demanding more clothing, footwear, and accessories. Demand is increasing for stylish clothing that is affordable, especially among middle-income consumers which will increase the need for fashion designers among apparel wholesalers. However, job opportunities in cut and sew manufacturing will continue to decline as apparel is increasingly manufactured overseas. Employment of fashion designers in this industry will not decline as fast as other occupations because firms are more likely to keep design work in house.
Job competition is expected be keen as many applicants are attracted to the creativity and glamour associated with the occupation. The best job opportunities will be in design firms that design mass-market clothing sold in department stores and retail chain stores, such as apparel wholesale firms. Few employment opportunities are expected in design firms that cater to high-end department stores and specialty boutiques as demand for expensive, high-fashion design declines relative to other luxury goods and services.
Median annual wages for salaried fashion designers were $61,160 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $42,150 and $87,120. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $32,150, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $124,780.
Earnings in fashion design can vary widely based on the employer and years of experience. Starting salaries in fashion design tend to be very low until designers are established in this occupation. Salaried fashion designers usually earn higher and more stable incomes than self-employed or freelance designers. However, a few of the most successful self-employed fashion designers may earn many times the salary of the highest paid salaried designers. Self-employed fashion designers must provide their own benefits and retirement.
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