The basic fashion designer salary in the US is $63,700 while its Canadian counterpart is C$49,906 ($39,231). In the UK, the salary ranges from £42,000 (approx. $54,133) to £85,000 (approx. $109,557). Australian fashion designers currently make on average AU$58,940 ($45,284) while Swiss and Norwegian designers make CHF66,831 ($69,327) and NOK520,576 ($62,911) respectively.
If you are an aspiring fashion designer read on to learn more about how geographic location, specific or in demand skills sets, and other aspects of the job can influence your salary and career prospects.
Fashion Designer Salary Influencers
Fashion designer salaries, like those of other creative professionals, are often subject to prevailing industry trends and vary widely across geographical locations, individuals, and skills in demand. We will expand on the specific determining factors below.
A career as a fashion designer requires a mix of boldness, industry knowledge, and creativity. Designers looking for a way into the industry should focus on current industry trends and their own creative value in order to pinpoint how best to gain traction within the industry.
Understanding seasonal design trends are crucial to success within the industry. Because consumers tend to wear drastically different clothing in the winter versus the summer (ie. heavy coats and jackets versus swimwear), designers can charge premium prices based off of consumer demand according to the season.
In recent years, social media has proven to have a widespread effect on the industry as a result of influencers modeling certain brands to their thousands or millions of followers. The savvy designer will partner with the right influencers to reach these potential customers and gain higher returns.
Popular skills associated with fashion design include pattern making, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Computer Aided Design (CAD) with individuals having Adobe Illustrator skills averaging a median salary of $63,000. Individuals with CAD skills average $61,000 while those with Photoshop skills average $62,000.
2. Geographical Area
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Fashion Designer Salary in the US
Average hourly wages for fashion designers in the US typically start at $15.95 and can increase with more experience to approximately $60.23. Salaries typically vary in range from $33,170 to $125,270 with bonuses ranging from $705 to $10,295.
Fashion Designer Salary in Canada
The median fashion designer hourly rate in Canada is C$22.00 with a potential for a C$4.00 hourly overtime increase. The mean annual salary ranges from C$32,532 to C$83,073. In addition, a yearly bonus of roughly C$1,987 can be earned.
Fashion Designer Salary in the UK
Starting salaries for design assistants are low and range from £16,000 to £17,000. Junior designers can earn up to £25,000 per year with bonuses ranging from £484 to £8,000. Senior and executive level designer salaries can range from £42,000 to more than £85,000.
Fashion Designer Salary in Australia
The Australian fashion designer salary ranges from AU$38,544 to AU$87,457 per year. The hourly rate can be anywhere from $19.77 for entry level designers to AU$55.00 for more experienced veterans. Designers can typically make yearly bonuses of up to $10,067.
Fashion Designer Salary in Switzerland
Fashion designers in Switzerland average CHF66,831 per year while Executive Assistants average CHF41,275. Bonus earning can range from CHF3,822 to CHF12,800 commensurate with the designers experience.
Fashion Designer Salary in Norway
Entry level designers in Norway with one to three years of experience can expect to make an average of NOK380,020 while senior level and creative executives with more than eight years of experience average NOK599,815 per year.
Fashion designers typically enter the industry as design assistants and make low wages (roughly $15,000 annually) before moving onto junior level designers after one to three years with average salaries of a little more than $30,000 in the US and Canada and slightly more at roughly $40,000 in the UK and Australia.
Senior level status is typically achieved after five to nine years with most designers moving onto another position after 20 years. As a result, designers can expect to make forty to sixty thousand more per year as they gain more experience with the highest US and UK salaries averaging at roughly $125,000 while the highest Norwegian and Swiss salaries average at $75,000. However, outliers in the industry exist with prominent individuals making more than $50 million a year.
Designers typically work from 9 am to 5 pm during the week but hours can vary and may be longer due to preparing samples for buyers or fashion shows. Travel is often required which means hours may be unpredictable and may depend on external circumstances (clients, travel delays, fashion show preparations etc.)
Bonuses and Benefit Packages
Bonus structures and benefit packages can vary according to company with most offering annual bonuses according to number of years experience the designer has and some including healthcare coverage and 401K options.
Most of the job openings for fashion designers are concentrated in New York and London with fewer jobs in Canada, Switzerland, and Norway. Fashion design, however, is not a dead end position with many people moving on to work in Product Marketing Management, Design Engineering, Technical Design Management, Pattern Making, Business Marketing Management and Product Development. Each of these pathways have opportunities for advancement with senior or director level positions attainable.
A career as a fashion designer is a great choice and rewarding path for individuals passionate about design creativity, can pick up industry trends and are willing to persevere through the ups and downs of the career. Though advancement opportunities are available, it typically takes roughly 20 years to reach the top of the profession. Though fashion design jobs are available all over the world, most are concentrated in North America and Europe with more ambitious individuals vying for competitive jobs in the Haute Couture houses concentrated in New York, Milan, Paris and London. However, moving into other fields including Marketing and Product Development is another option for designers looking to make a switch but want to remain in the industry they love.