Whether a career in fashion has been your lifelong dream or you’re still considering whether fashion is the right path for you, we’ll take a look at several different career choices in the industry, including fashion design, marketing, merchandising, public relations (PR), and journalism.
We’ll examine what each career entails and look at job outlook, average salary, and educational requirements. Lastly we’ll take a look at one of the best fashion staffing agencies in NYC. Let’s get started!
- What They Do: Fashion designers are the drivers of fashion trends, creating the clothing, footwear, and accessories people wear every day. These professionals study fashion trends, use computer-aided design (CAD) software to create designs, and work with other designers on prototype designs, among many other things. Fashion designers are at the forefront of the fashion trends. Artistic ability, creativity, and attention to detail are essential skills for fashion designers.
- Where They Work: Many fashion designers run their own businesses, but it can be difficult to get established and make a name in the very competitive world of fashion; many work for years before they are able to open their own business. Many designers choose to work for couture design houses, while others opt to work with larger retailers or apparel companies as part of a design team.
- Job Outlook: The number of jobs in fashion design is expected to decline slightly during the period from 2012 to 2022, according to the BLS.1
- Average Salary: The median salary for fashion designers was $62,860 per year, or $30.22 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.2
- Educational Requirements: Most designers have a bachelor’s degree in fashion design or merchandising. In school they learn about different textiles and computer-aided design (CAD), essential software that helps designers bring their concepts to life. Knowledge of CAD software helps prospective designers develop a collection of designs for their portfolios, which employers rely on heavily when making hiring decisions.
Fashion Marketing Professional
- What They Do: Fashion marketing professionals work with designers to promote the designers’ fashion lines. They examine fashion trends and help retailers promote their goods. Fashion marketing pros don’t design clothes; rather, they aid designers in ensuring an even more important part of the fashion equation—that the clothes, shoes, and accessories sell—and sell well.
- Where They Work: Fashion marketing professionals work for designers, fashion magazines, in department stores and boutiques, and for manufacturers, wholesalers, and importers.
- Job Outlook: The outlook for those in marketing is generally good, according to the BLS. Although there has been a decline in print media, it has been offset by the growth of Internet advertising.
- Average Salary: The median annual salary for a marketing specialist (not specific to the fashion industry) is $65,306, according the BLS.
- Educational Requirements: Generally, a bachelor’s degree is required to break into fashion marketing. If you have prior experience in the field, an associate’s degree may be sufficient. Prior experience in the fashion industry is highly sought after by employers, as are individuals who are creative and who have excellent communication, organizational, and problem-solving skills. Understanding the needs of customers and targeting them through social media and the Internet is an inextricable part of the marketing landscape today, making individuals with strong social media and digital marketing skills in high demand.
- What They Do: Fashion merchandising encompasses the entire process of fashion development, from product development to promotion and sales. Fashion merchandisers develop campaigns, displays, and ads, and create sales strategies for retailers. They understand market trends, as well as the cultural and economic aspects of textile production, and they often have a strong sense of local trends.
- Where They Work: These professionals may work for a textile manufacturer, a designer, or in a retail environment. Their job titles vary depending on the industry they work in—they may become fashion buyers, retail store managers, textile merchandisers, fashion directors, or catalog production managers.
- Job Outlook: Jobs for purchasing managers, buyers, and purchasing agents are projected to grow 4 percent from 2012 to 2022, according to the BLM. While this is slower than average for all occupations, fashion merchandising is nonetheless a promising career. Those who pursue the field should be prepared for competition, making education a valuable tool, which we’ll cover below.
- Average Salary: The mean annual salary for purchasing managers, buyers, and purchasing agents was $60,550 per year (or $29.11 per hour) in 2012, according to the BLS.3
- Educational Requirements: A high school diploma may be enough to find a position as a purchasing agent. Most stores and distributors will prefer applicants who have a bachelor’s degree and have some business or accounting knowledge/experience. For top-level purchasing manager positions, a master’s degree is likely required. Buyers and purchasing agents typically undergo on-the-job training for up to a year, during which time they’ll learn how to negotiate with suppliers and how to monitor inventory levels, among other skills.
Fashion PR Representative
- What They Do: Public relations representatives in fashion play the important role of marketing the latest fashions and creating buzz among journalists, bloggers, and other influencers. Fashion PR reps develop relationships with members of the press and work with editors who will write about their company’s products for fashion magazines, online publications, and other pieces. Fashion PR reps must have impeccable communications and diplomacy skills, as they can expect to frequently handle complaints from customers regarding problems with shipments, damaged merchandise, and other matters. In short—they should be strongly people-oriented.
- Where They Work: It’s a common misconception that a career in fashion PR is all about posh parties and mingling with VIPs. Fashion PR has its rewards, but it can also be grueling at times. Fashion PR specialists work with big name brands, for retailers, couture design houses, and in other environments, and the job often requires odd hours and overtime.
- Job Outlook: Job growth for PR specialists (not specific to fashion industry) is projected at 12 percent from 2012 to 2022, according to BLS.4 The prevalence and importance of social media and customer review sites make it even more critical for companies to maintain a positive public image. The PR specialists of today and tomorrow must make this a priority.
- Average Salary: The median annual pay in 2012 for PR specialists was $54,170, or $26.04 per hour.
- Educational Requirements: A degree in marketing, business, or communications is generally required, and internships are important for getting your foot in the door.
- What They Do: Fashion journalists work in many different capacities—as fashion reporters, fashion critics, fashion writers, bloggers, and in multimedia. Some may write books about fashion, give their commentary on televised fashion programs, and more. Like PR reps, a key part of success in fashion journalism is establishing connections with others in the fashion industry, including designers, photographers, and PR specialists. It’s important for fashion journalists to develop a distinct writing style that helps them stand out to editors.
- Where They Work: Fashion journalists may work for a specific publication or media outlet, either full-time or on a freelance basis.
- Job Outlook: Job growth is expected to decline for reporters, and correspondents in general, during the period from 2012-2022; however, this may not necessarily apply to journalists who work in fashion.
- Average Salary: The median annual salary for reporters and correspondents is $36,000, according to study.com.5 The BLS lists a slightly higher median annual salary of $37,090 per year as of 2012.6
- Educational Requirements: A bachelor’s degree in journalism, communications, or English is generally required for a job in fashion journalism. It’s important for fashion journalists to gain practical experience through internships and to develop their skills with online publication websites, social media,
- video recording and editing, and even graphic design. Journalists today are expected to use multimedia proficiently.
We hope this information has helped you decide which career in the exciting world of fashion is right for you!
About the Fashion Network
The Fashion Network is one of the leading fashion recruitment agencies in NYC. For more than 13 years we have serviced the fashion and retail industries, matching our clients up with the best candidates. We’re proud of the long-term relationships we’ve built with our clients over the years, and we look forward to working with you.