Opportunities for Advancement for Fashion Designers

Jun 26, 2018

Fashion designers must have a creative sense of design and be business savvy. After working as a designer, some may wish to grow their careers to other fields in the fashion world.

Career Growth Opportunities for Fashion Designers

Fashion designers play an important role in the fashion industry. They create the clothing and other accessories that are then sold for customers to purchase. Fashion designers must have a high degree of creativity and understanding of market trends. After working as a fashion designer, some individuals may wish to undertake other roles in the industry. They might consider a management position overseeing the designs of publications as an art director, or of textile production as a textile design manager. Others may wish to review the designs of others as a fashion buyer. Those that have built connections in the fashion industry may also consider moving into a role as an agent. Descriptions of these careers are provided below.

Job Title Median Salary Job Growth (2016-2026)* Education or Experience
Art Director $92,500 (2017)* 5% growth Bachelor's degree and portfolio
Fashion Buyer $67,407 (2018)** -3% (purchasing managers, buyers, and purchasing agents) Bachelor's degree
Textile Design Manager $70,493 (2018)** 3% growth (fashion designers) Master's degree
Agents $64,940 (2017 median salary for agents and business managers of artists, performers, and athletes)* 5% growth (Agents and business managers of artists, performers, and athletes) Bachelor's degree and experience

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **PayScale.com

Career Information

Art Director

Fashion designers must have an excellent eye for design. One avenue to use this skill at the next level in their career would be to consider a career as an art director. Art directors supervise the design of publications, films, or other media requiring a specific visual theme. They supervise others who create artwork, such as graphic designers. Art directors may be responsible for a specific budget for their area of work. Typically, one would move into an art director role with a bachelor's degree, after developing a portfolio through another position within the fine arts field. A Master of Fine Arts degree may also be helpful in securing a position.

Fashion Buyer

Fashion designers need to have a strong sense of popular trends. Those who enjoy researching and understanding such trends may enjoy work as a fashion buyer. These individuals must predict what fashions will be appealing to the customers of their employer. They must choose suppliers to ensure that merchandise will be in the stores on time. Fashion buyers are then responsible for negotiating and executing contracts with the suppliers. They may make recommendations as to what price the retail store should offer the items for. Fashion buyers typically have a bachelor's degree.

Textile Design Manager

Fashion designers may enjoy creating apparel out of beautiful fabrics. Those that wish to focus more on designing the textiles themselves might consider a role as a textile design manager. Textile designers develop fabrics, balancing the creative appearance with important safety and durability concerns. They may focus on the textiles used for clothing, housewares, or specialized items such as bulletproof vests. They may design with pen and paper or using computer-aided design software. In addition to the design tasks, textile design managers must manage the personnel on a team and ensure that budget requirements are met. Textile design managers typically hold a master's degree.


Fashion designers may have experience working with models who display their designs during runway fashion shows or in the pages of magazines. Those who enjoy working with these individuals may consider a career as an agent. Agents represent models or other professional performers in finding gigs. They prepare clients for auditions and negotiate the terms of the contract. Agents typically have experience and contacts within the industry where they are representing clients. They typically have at least a bachelor's degree, and many have a master's degree or law degree. Some states may require licensure of agents.

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