How Much Does a Fashion Designer Make?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 8, 2021

Published February 25, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Fashion design is an exciting career that allows you to combine technical knowledge with creativity and a love of art. If you're thinking about a career as a fashion designer, salary is likely one of your primary considerations. Learning about the average salary by state and the primary responsibilities of fashion designers can help you better assess whether this career is a good fit for you.

In this article, we discuss what a fashion designer does and how much money they earn in each state, as well as skills required, work environment and job outlook for fashion designers.

Related: 15 Careers in the Fashion Industry

What is a fashion designer?

A fashion designer is a professional who is responsible for designing, creating and merchandising clothing items, footwear and accessories. They use a variety of different materials and specify the measurements for their designs. During the design process, they select colors, fabrics, styles and accessories to wear with the outfit.

Some of the primary responsibilities for fashion designers are:

  • Managing the design process from conception to the final styling

  • Following market trends and researching to find new fabrics, techniques and design inspiration

  • Collaborating with members of a team to select themes for different seasons, create new concepts and make changes to a product line

  • Presenting story, color and mood boards as well as samples to buyers

  • Ensuring products are in alignment with the business strategy

  • Selecting colors, fabrics and trims

  • Creating production sketches for development

What is the average salary for a fashion designer?

The national average salary for fashion designers is $50,283 per year and ranges from $15,080 to $94,328 per year, according to Indeed salaries, where updated salary information can be found.

Salaries by state for fashion designers

Maryland, New York and Texas offer the highest-paying salaries for fashion designers in the United States. The salaries below were populated using state-specific data from Indeed Salaries, where updated salary information can also be found for the average salaries listed for specific regions. That being said, here are average salaries for fashion designers in each of the 50 states:

  • Alabama: $41,376 per year

  • Alaska: $44,400 per year

  • Arizona: $43,200 per year

  • Arkansas: $40,812 per year

  • California: $35,006 per year

  • Colorado: $44,280 per year

  • Connecticut: $45,600 per year

  • Delaware: $42,924 per year

  • Florida: $27,685 per year

  • Georgia: $29,682 per year

  • Hawaii: $29,682 per year

  • Idaho: $39,396 per year

  • Illinois: $44,868 per year

  • Indiana: $41,388‬ per year

  • Iowa: $41,736‬ per year

  • Kansas: $41,184 per year

  • Kentucky: $40,608 per year

  • Louisiana: $3,463 per year

  • Maine: $41,244 per year

  • Maryland: $53,585 per year

  • Massachusetts: $47,148 per year

  • Michigan: $42,552 per year

  • Minnesota: $23,234 per year

  • Mississippi: $39,168 per year

  • Missouri: $43,020 per year

  • Montana: $39,492 per year

  • Nebraska: $41,292 per year

  • Nevada: $42,588 per year

  • New Hampshire: $42,300 per year

  • New Jersey: $38,542 per year

  • New Mexico: $41,664 per year

  • New York: $52,139 per year

  • North Carolina: $42,792 per year

  • North Dakota: $42,372 per year

  • Ohio: $42,456 per year

  • Oklahoma: $40,776 per year

  • Oregon: $43,896 per year

  • Pennsylvania: $43,668 per year

  • Rhode Island: $43,092‬ per year

  • South Carolina: $41,436 per year

  • South Dakota: $40,428 per year

  • Tennessee: $41,964 per year

  • Texas: $57,595 per year

  • Utah: $41,124 per year

  • Vermont: $41,580 per year

  • Virginia: $44,964 per year

  • Washington: $41,600 per year

  • West Virginia: $39,696 per year

  • Wisconsin: $42,408 per year

  • Wyoming: $40,968‬ per year

Ways to increase salary as a fashion designer

Here are three main ways to increase your salary as a fashion designer:

Education: Fashion designers who have a formal education and are knowledgeable about technologies like computer-aided design (CAD) will be the strongest candidates for openings in the fashion industry that lead to higher salaries, as they are best positioned for growth.

Industry experience: Industry experience and building a strong portfolio to demostrate will also have a big impact on your ability to earn more. As fashion designers gain more experience, they will qualify for more advanced positions and earn more money.

Geographic location: If you intend to pursue a career as a fashion designer, you may want to consider relocation. The greatest employment opportunities for fashion designers are concentrated in California and New York, where this industry is most concentrated. However, more opportunities does not necessarily translate into higher incomes, particularly in relation to cost of living.

Related: 14 Careers for People Who Like To Draw

Important skills for fashion designers

Some of the most important skills required of a successful fashion designer include the following:

  • Artistic ability: Fashion designers must have artistic skills to sketch their initial design ideas and use them to create prototypes of their clothing.

  • Communication: Fashion designers need to be able to give clear and concise instructions to their teams about how the garment should be constructed and communicate with retailers in order to pitch their designs.

  • Detail-oriented: Fashion designers have to be detail-oriented to look for small differences in color and fabric design to determine what will make their designs sell successfully.

  • Computer skills: Designers must be proficient with computers and be able to use CAD programs.

  • Creativity: Fashion designers must be highly creative in order to create designs that are unique, stylish and functional.

  • Decision-making skills: Fashion designers are exposed to different trends and ideas in their industry. They must be able to evaluate the different options and choose which ones will work best in their designs.

Work environment for fashion designers

Fashion designers often work in-house for manufacturers or wholesalers. They sell apparel and accessories to retailers or other marketers for distribution to online retailers, individual stores and other companies. Self-employed fashion designers generally create one-of-a-kind apparel and may sell them online or in individual boutiques.

Many designers travel several times throughout the year to fashion shows or trade shows to learn about the latest trends. They may also travel to other countries to meet manufacturers and material suppliers.

Related: 6 Different Work Environment Types and Example Career Roles

Job outlook for fashion designers

The employment outlook for fashion designers is expected to show little or no change from 2018 to 2028. As apparel companies continue to move their manufacturing overseas, employment for designers in the manufacturing industry is expected to decline by 31% over the next decade. However, employment for fashion designers in the retail industry is expected to grow. The increase in demand is being driven by everyday clothing retailers who are selling more fashion-inspired clothing that has mass-market appeal. Because of the large number of candidates vying for jobs, strong competition for openings is anticipated.

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