Top Jobs in the Fashion Industry

Best Fashion Career Options to Consider

Most Common Fashion Job Titles: Market researcher, art director, model, fashion designer, purchasing agent

Image by Jaime Knoth © The Balance 2019

Have you always had an eye for what makes an outfit work or a style choice into a personal statement? You might have a bright future in the fashion industry, where a cerulean sweater is never just a cerulean sweater, and a flair for design can translate into a rewarding career.

The money is nothing to scoff at, either. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that fashion designers earn a median annual salary of $73,790, with the top 10% of earners raking in $149,010 or more per year.

Fashion Industry Career Options

Fashion designer is far from the only option in the field. Depending on your interests and aptitudes, you might consider a career as an art director, buyer, or marketing researcher, among other job titles.

If you are interested in fashion but don’t know what specific career you might want, check out this list of fashion job titles. You might also use this list to encourage your employer to change the title of your position to fit your responsibilities better.

Also use the list of fashion skills when writing your resumes and cover letters, and at job interviews. Include some of these skills in your job materials to demonstrate that you have the skills it takes to succeed in the fashion industry.

Common Fashion Job Titles

Art Director

An art director is responsible for the visual styling of a particular product. An art director in the fashion industry might work for a fashion magazine, a public relations firm, or a retailer. They have to be very creative and have a sense of what images will help sell a product.

Salary: According to the BLS, art directors earn a median annual income of $94,220.

Related Job Titles:

  • Commercial Photographer
  • Creative Director
  • Display Designer
  • Editorial Photographer
  • Graphic Artist
  • Graphic Designer
  • Graphic Production Artist
  • Studio Photographer
  • Window Stylist

Buyer/Purchasing Agent

Buyers and purchasing agents select clothing, shoes, and/or accessories from clothing manufacturers and wholesalers to sell in retail stores. They work for retail fashion and department stores, selecting items they think will be attractive to customers. Buyers and purchasing agents typically have to travel a lot, visiting manufacturing sites and attending fashion shows. They often have degrees in fashion, marketing, and/or business.

Salary: The BLS reports that purchasing managers, buyers, and agents earn a median annual salary of $69,600.

Related Job Titles:

  • Account Executive
  • Apparel Production Coordinator
  • Area Brand Coordinator
  • Assistant Buyer
  • Assistant Merchant
  • Fashion Buyer
  • Merchandiser
  • Sales Associate
  • Sales Manager
  • Showroom Manager
  • Store Manager

Fashion Designer

fashion designer creates clothing, shoes, and/or accessories. Fashion designers work in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, clothing companies, theaters, and design firms. Along with artistic skills, most designers need computer skills to use computer-aided design and graphics editing software.

Salary: According to the BLS, fashion designers earn a median annual salary of $73,790.

Related Job Titles:

  • Associate Designer
  • Bedding Designer
  • Fashion Director
  • Style Specialist
  • Stylist
  • Technical Designer
  • Textile Fabric Colorist

Market Researcher

A fashion market researcher studies the fashion market to get a sense of what types of clothing and shoes and accessories people want, as well as who will buy what items, and at what price. They need strong analytical skills – they have to read and understand large amounts of data, and convey their findings to retailers, manufacturers, and designers.

Salary: According to Glassdoor, fashion market researcher and analyst jobs pay an average annual salary of $53,712.

Related Job Titles:

  • Brand Strategist
  • Marketing Coordinator
  • Marketing Manager
  • Media Planner
  • Sales Inventory Analyst
  • Trend Forecaster

Model

A model poses for photographers or the public to help advertise clothing, shoes, and/or accessories. They might also walk in a runway fashion show while wearing a designer’s clothing. Models work in a variety of conditions, from indoor studios to fashion shows. They often have unpredictable schedules and have periods of unemployment.

Salary: Per the BLS, models earn a median annual salary of $28,350.

Related Job Titles:

  • Art Class Model
  • Fashion Coordinator
  • Fashion Model Agent
  • Fitness Model
  • Modeling Coach
  • Showroom Model

Top Fashion Skills

Attention to Detail

Whether you are sewing clothing or ordering products for your boutique, an attention to detail is critical in fashion. Clothing has to be meticulously made to impress buyers. Storeowners need to keep careful track of their products and prices. Marketing researchers need to keep a close eye on changes in their data. Models need to make sure the products they are modeling are meticulously displayed. Focus and a keen eye are necessary for almost any job in the industry.

Related Skills:

  • Color sense
  • Focus
  • Pattern grading
  • Photogenic
  • Time management
  • Visualization

Business Knowledge

Anyone with a hand in the fashion industry needs to understand the ins and outs of the business. This requires more than just knowing the latest fashion trends. Designers need to know costs of materials and labor, and buyers and storeowners need to keep an eye on the market when purchasing items. Without a sense of market and business trends, a talented designer can struggle financially.

Related Skills:

  • Advertising
  • Fundraising
  • Management
  • Manufacturing
  • Market research
  • Merchandising
  • Product development
  • Prototyping
  • Retailing
  • Sales

Communication

Nearly every job in the fashion industry requires working with others. Designers need to be in constant communication with their team about everything from cost to production to display. Buyers need to communicate with others in their organization to decide on a budget. Art directors for magazines need to communicate with their editors to make sure they have a clear vision for their work. For all these reasons, people in the fashion industry need to have strong verbal and written communication skills.

Related Skills:

Creativity

Almost every job in the fashion industry requires some creativity. Designers need to be able to visualize clothing that has not yet been created. Art directors must create visual strategies for modeling products. Storeowners have to think of creative ways to display and sell their products. An open mind and a clear vision for how to market, display, and sell products are important in the industry.

Related Skills:

  • Flexibility
  • Imagination
  • Initiative
  • Sketching
  • Styling
  • Textiles
  • Versatility

Information Technology Skills

People in the design and fashion industry increasingly rely on information technology (IT). Designers might use computer-aided design and graphics editing programs to sketch out designs or to share design ideas with clients. Marketing researchers work with various software to collect and manage data. When applying for a job in fashion, be sure to highlight any relevant IT knowledge that you have.

Related Skills:

  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Computer Aided Design (CAD)
  • ECommerce
  • InDesign
  • Microsoft Office Suite
  • Photoshop
  • PrimaVision
  • Quark
  • WebPDM

Article Sources

  1. W Magazine. “That The Devil Wears Prada Monologue Was Almost Very Different.” Accessed Aug. 18, 2020.

  2. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. “Fashion Designers.” Accessed Aug. 18, 2020.

  3. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. “Art Directors.” Accessed Aug. 18, 2020.

  4. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. “Purchasing Managers, Buyers, and Purchasing Agents.” Accessed Aug. 18, 2020.

  5. Glassdoor. “Fashion Market Research Salaries.” Accessed Aug. 18, 2020.

  6. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. “Models.” Accessed Aug. 18, 2020.