Fashion design is the creative force of the fashion industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth for fashion designing is expected to grow one percent for the 10 year period from 2008 to 2018. Typically design companies look to hire individuals with Bachelors degree in a fashion design program. Even though advancement opportunities exist, few employment opportunities are expected outside of mass-market clothing design companies.
Design Assistant is an entry level fashion design opportunity that is more administrative than creative, with duties including assisting the design team with fashion illustration and storyboard layout. Many college graduates start at this level. Typically after six months working as a design assistant the next advancement opportunity is an assistant designer position.
Assistant designers are similar to design assistants, however the assistant designer gets more hands on production experience with pattern making and assisting with sample garment construction. Typically after spending three or more years as an assistant designer you can advance to an associate designer or technical designer position.
The associate designer participates in designing garments for the seasonal collections and works closely with the head designer for creative input and design approval. With five or more years experience as an associate designer, you can seek out a position as a head designer.
According to CareerThreads.com, technical designers are responsible for making sure the fashion designer's sketch can be made into a wearable garment by overseeing the production side of creating a fashion line. As with the associate designer you will need at least five years experience as a technical designer to advance to head designer.
The head designer is responsible for the fashion collections produced each season regardless if the collections are failures or successes. Typically a minimum of five years work experience as an associate designer or technical designer is needed to progress to this level; however, it is common for a design firm to require seven to 10 years experience.
The years of experience you have, job location and employer are the main factors which determine what salary you make at each level. Fashion designing salaries can be lower than $32,150 (entry level positions) according to the BLS or as high as $157,000 or more a year for head designer positions.