How Much Do Clothing Designers Make?
Fashion design is often associated with runway models and extravagant outfits, but most clothing designers work in areas other than high fashion. Apparel companies, theater or dance companies, and retailers are just a few of the employers that hire fashion designers to create original clothing, accessories and footwear. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that formal education is not required to become a clothing designer and that creativity, technical skills and knowledge of clothing production are highly valued in the industry.
Data provided by the BLS show that the average annual income of clothing designers was $73,930 in May 2011. The average wage of workers in the occupation was $35.54 an hour. The bottom 10 percent of clothing designers earned less than $32,700 a year, while the top 10 percent of designers made more than $127,820. Half of all workers in the occupation had annual incomes between $44,500 and $90,060.
Jobs for clothing designers tend to be concentrated in large cities like New York and Los Angeles. According to the BLS, almost 75 percent of salaried fashion designers worked in New York or California in May 2010. Designers in New York earned $80,650 a year on average in May 2011, and workers in California made $72,910 on average. Other high-paying states included Maine, where workers made $80,650 on average and Wisconsin, where workers earned $71,960 on average.
Clothing designers work for a variety of different types of companies in the apparel industry, and pay varies from one area to the next. Designers working for apparel wholesalers made $72,450 a year on average in May 2011, workers involved in cut-and-sew apparel manufacturing made $73,650 on average, and those providing specialized design services earned $70,050 on average. Clothing designers in the motion picture industry earned $101,040 on average and designers involved in the management of companies and enterprises made $80,140 on average.
The BLS projects that employment for fashion designers will remain unchanged from 2010 to 2020. Employment in apparel manufacturing, which accounted for 6,330 of 16,010 design jobs in May 2011, is expected to fall by 58 percent. Candidates with formal training in design and a strong portfolio of past design work are likely to have the best job prospects in the face of stagnant job growth and fierce competition.
2016 Salary Information for Fashion Designers
Fashion designers earned a median annual salary of $65,170 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, fashion designers earned a 25th percentile salary of $46,020, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $92,550, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 23,800 people were employed in the U.S. as fashion designers.