The idea of getting into the fashion industry appeals to people from different generations, but it’s the young ones that are more aggressive in making a mark in this industry. It’s probably because they have a lot of fresh, new ideas to contribute, or because the new generation is keener on seeking jobs that are more diverse than corporate careers -- and for good reason.
Becoming associated with fashion’s biggest names, such as Karl Lagerfeld, Tom Ford, Prada, Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, and Valentino is a dream of a lifetime for many people. For some, writing for the top fashion magazines like Essence, Vogue, or Ebony is the most coveted career.
You can make your fashion dreams a reality with hard work and a bit of luck. We’ve rounded up the top 10 careers in fashion and the average salary for each to inspire you and help you get started.
- Fashion Designer - $63,000
Fashion designing is one of the most high-profile jobs in the entire industry. It’s the designer’s job to oversee projects and sketch the entire collection right up to the finishing touches. But you can’t become a fashion designer overnight. While proper education is preferred, creativity and inspiration matter more to build an entire fashion house.
- Textile Designer - $52,000
Professionals who specialize in patterns for both upholstery and fabrics are called textile designers. Most textile designers have one or two fields they work in, which commonly involves using 2D designs to be knitted or woven in fabrics, carpets, garments, and similar items.
- Fashion Merchandiser - $49,000
A career in merchandising is for those who find numbers appealing and the technical aspect of distributing various fashion products. Merchandisers are responsible for ensuring that there are enough products in the right stores, sold in the right time. The skills required for this job is the ability to monitor and forecast sales.
- Illustrator - $45,000
Fashion illustrators work closely with creative directors and designers in order to bring life to their visions. An illustrator commonly uses CAD software in order to create designs and sketches. However, free-hand sketching still applies to this day. Illustrators are not only creative and artistic people, but they are also very accurate in producing realistic images.
- Fashion Photographer - $43,000
If you think landscape or portrait shoots are similar to fashion photography, think again. Fashion photography requires a specific set of skills and creative ideas to shoot garments, still-life images, mannequins, and models. You can acquire a ton of exposure if your ideas become real-life ad campaigns displayed in magazines, posters, and billboards.
- Graphic Designer - $43,000
If you love creating new designs, using different typography, and editing images, you can have a lucrative career in graphic designing. This career makes fashion images look better and more appealing to consumers by touching up editorial shots, seasonal lookbooks, and other marketing materials.
- Model - $42,000
Fashion models are one of the most well-known personalities in fashion due to the fact that they are the face of a brand. As a model, you are tasked to promote different items of clothing and products, be it footwear, clothing, accessories, perfumes, and other similar products. Your looks are essentially your weapon, seen on various forms of marketing, including billboards, social media, websites, and magazines. To succeed in this career, you must have the right ‘look’ and your portfolio of pictures should be readily available.
- Personal Assistant - $40,000
A personal assistant is a hard-working and dedicated individual working for high profile individuals in the fashion industry, such as celebrities, magazine editors, and fashion designers themselves. What makes this job exciting is the fact that you have several perks, including getting to work closely with your favorite fashion icon and their peers. You’ll often run errands that they don’t have time for, as well as make reservations, book flights, and arrange your boss’ schedule.
- Fashion Blogger/Writer/Journalist - $39,000
If you have a knack for expressing yourself through words or always loved reading, a career as a fashion writer can be a fulfilling job. While you can create your own blog, you also have the option to write for your favorite publication or even write a book. While not a requirement, a degree in journalism or creative writing will be advantageous.
- Fashion Stylist - $31,000
Stylists can work with fashion organizations or on a one-to-one basis. Regardless of the setting, the goal is to help a client find an attractive and suitable outfit for an important occasion. Successful stylists have a keen eye for detail and are often skilled at communicating. This makes them a rare breed and the only professional who understands a client and what he or she wants to portray.
Work Your Way Up in the Fashion Industry
There are many other careers in the fashion industry and you can work in one if you have a creative mind and live up to the constant need and demand of the rapidly changing trends. A career in fashion can be temporary, but there’s also a guarantee to last a lifetime if you equip yourself with the right attitude and skills for the job.
In many ways I am a shining example of the American Dream. I was born in Hungary during the Communist era, and my family fled to Israel before coming to the U.S. in pursuit of freedom and safety. When we arrived, I was just a young, shy girl who couldn't speak English. After my childhood in Hungary, New York City was a marvel; I couldn't believe that such a lively, rich place existed. Even a simple thing like going to the market and seeing all the bright, colorful produce and having so many choices was new to me. I'll never take that for granted. I think it's where my love affair with color truly began.
One thing I had was a strong work ethic. I worked hard in school, to learn English, and at jobs including my first job at Dairy Queen -- which I loved! Ice cream is easily my favorite food. From there, I moved into the garment district where my brother-in-law's family had a business. During this time, I was able to see how a business was run and began to hone in on my eye for aesthetics and willingness to work hard at any task I was given.
Eventually, my brother-in-law bought a dental supply company in Los Angeles and asked me to join him. LA, a place with 365-days of sunshine. How could I say no? The company started as Odontorium Products Inc. During the acrylic movement of the 1980s, we realized that nail technicians were buying our product, and that the same components used for dentures were used for artificial nails. We saw a potential opening in the market, and we seized it. OPI began dropping off the "rubber band special" at every salon on Ventura Blvd. in Los Angeles. A jar of powder, liquid and primer – rubber-banded together – became the OPI Traditional Acrylic System and was a huge hit, giving OPI its start in the professional nail industry. It was 1981 when OPI first opened its doors. I couldn't have predicted our success, but I knew that hard work and faith in myself would be key in transforming a new business into a company with global reach.
When we started OPI, what we were doing was something new. Before OPI came on the scene, the generic, utilitarian nail polish names already on the market – like Red No. 4, Pink No. 2 – were completely forgettable. We rebranded the category with catchy names that we knew women could relate to and would remember. The industry was stale and boring, so we made it more fun and sexy. We started creating color collections. I carefully developed 30 groundbreaking colors for the debut collection -- many of which are still beloved bestsellers today, including Malaga Wine, Alpine Snow and Kyoto Pearl.
There is no other nail color brand in the world that touches the totality of industries the way OPI does.
With deep roots in Tinseltown, we eventually started collaborating with Hollywood. Our decision to collaborate with the entertainment industry also propelled OPI forward in another way, ultimately leading us to finding a way to connect with women beyond the world of beauty, relating our products to the beverages they drink, the cars they drive, the movies they watch, the clothes they wear – even the shade they use to paint their living room walls! There is no other nail color brand in the world that touches the totality of industries the way OPI does. It also propelled my growth as a businessperson forward. I found myself sitting in meetings with executives from some of the top companies in the world. I didn't have a fancy presentation. I didn't have a Harvard business degree. I realized that what I had was passion. I had a passion for what we were doing, and I had my own unique story that no one else could replicate.
Discipline, hard work, and passion gave me the confidence to grow from that shy immigrant girl to become the person that I am today
Bit by bit, I grew up with the business. Discipline, hard work, and passion gave me the confidence to grow from that shy immigrant girl to become the person that I am today -- an author, public speaker, and co-founder of OPI, the world's #1 professional nail brand.
I learned quickly that one can be an expert at many things, but not everything. Running a business is very hard work. Luckily, I had someone I could collaborate with who brought something new to the table and complemented my talents, my brother-in-law George Schaeffer. My business "superpower," or the ability to make decisions quickly and confidently, kept me ahead of trends and competition.
Another key to my success in building this brand and in growing in business was being authentic. Authenticity is so important to brands and maybe even more so now in the time of social media when you can speak directly to your consumers. I realized even then that I could only be me. I was a woman who knew what I wanted. I looked at my mother and daughter and wanted to create products that would excite and empower them.
There's often an expectation placed on women in charge that they need to be cutthroat to be competitive, but that's not true. Rather than focusing on my gender or any implied limitations I might bring to the job as a female and a mother, I always focused instead on my vision. I deliberately fostered an environment at OPI filled with warmth. After all, at the end of the day, your organization is only as good as its people. I've always found that being nice, being humble, and listening to others has served me well. Instead of pushing others down to get to the top, inspire them and bring them along on the journey.
You can read more about my personal and professional journey in my new memoir out now, I'm Not Really a Waitress: How One Woman Took Over the Beauty Industry One Color at a Time.