Fashion design is a career choice desired by many. The glamour, creativity, and earning potential, along with names such as Tommy Hilfiger, Prada, Mark James, and Yves Saint Laurent, convey visions of glamorous clothes, red carpet events, celebrities, fame, and big bucks. However, the reality could not be farther from the truth. Those who choose careers in fashion design have beginning salaries below $30,000 a year; however, hard work, resolve, creativity, and the ability to stand out, can result in earning millions during the course of a career.
People associate fashion design with high profile designers who lend their name to the clothes we wear. Those who enjoy the world of fashion, but require job and income stability, have more secure opportunities available. Employment abounds in mass marketing and manufacturing. These garments are designed for retail and discount chains. As middle class demands increase for fashionable, yet affordable, clothing, these designers and manufacturers continue to grow in popularity. Beginning salaries in mass marketing average $30,000 a year; however, creating designs that are unique and functional, leads to potential income of $78, 000 or more per year.
Designer salaries are often dictated by employment. As mentioned above, designers who work for manufacturers can expect to make between $56,000 and $73,000 a year.
Design firms, franchises, universities, and design houses offer middle road salaries; somewhere between, $45,000 and $51,000 annual income.
Designers who choose the path of self-employment begin with a salary of $35,000 a year, but it is often these designers who have the greatest earning potential. While rare, these designers often create have their own label and design houses; their name brand label will command millions.
Employment location influences the salary of fashion designers. Unlike other industries, fashion design is focused in major U.S. cities. The greatest earning potential is found in cities such as San Francisco ($69,000 a year), Dallas ($67,000 a year), Los Angeles ($57,000 a year), Seattle ($56,000 a year) Miami ($45,000) and Chicago ($43,000 a year). Interestingly, although considered the design capital of the world, New York has third place honors with salaries averaging $63,000 annually. New York is inundated with new designers each year. Salaries are kept low, especially for those new to the industry, to test their mettle, and commitment to the industry.
Other factors that determine salary are education and experience. Designers, who have graduated from esteemed universities and design schools, garner higher salaries. Creativity, talent, and reputation allow a designer to stand out amongst competitors, and further increases income potential. Designers who respect their clients and employees have higher incomes and do not forget a client base of well known celebrities and headliners will boost a designer to the top of the salary scale.
As with any career choice, many factors including education, drive, creativity, location, and just plain hard work, will ultimately determine lifetime income for a fashion designer. For those willing to take risks, and search for prime opportunities, life time income is only limited by creativity and imagination.