Don B. Huntley College of Agriculture

Job Titles & Salaries

The Industry

Apparel represents a $276 billion retail market in the United States.  The U.S.  industry employs large numbers: 116,000 in textile manufacturing; 170,000 in apparel design and production; 140,000 in apparel wholesale distribution; and around 3 million in apparel retailing.  Currently, around 96% of the apparel sold in retail stores is imported into the U.S.  However, almost all of the clothing we buy is designed, branded and marketed by American companies.  What is more, American brands are famous and widely sought by consumers around the world.  Among these, Californian brands are perhaps the most dynamic and diverse, including Quiksilver, Patagonia, Volcom, Forever 21, BCBG, Seven for All Mankind, Vans, St John Knits, True Religion, American Apparel.  Nationwide, the greatest concentration of apparel companies and jobs is to be found in Southern California, centered around Los Angeles.


Career pathways in the apparel production and distribution sectors include: retail buying and international sourcing; merchandising; product development; wholesale sales and marketing; market research and forecasting; retail marketing and promotion; visual merchandising; brand management; production management; supply chain management; and product design. 

Pathways in related industries include textile buying and wholesaling, fashion journalism, public relations, higher education, and the marketing of equipment and support services (financial, software, international trade, and business consulting) to the fashion industry.

AMM students have a strong entrepreneurial spirit.  Many aspire to start their own business and a significant number of our alums are successful business owners.   

Some students complement their AMM major by completing a business, communications or art related minors.  This helps expand or better focus their career opportunities.

Listed below are some of the primary career tracks, together with typical salaries in California associated with specific positions

Apparel Buying, Planning & Merchandising

  • Buyers meet with suppliers by attending fashion shows, apparel trade shows, and visiting designer and textile showrooms in order to negotiate merchandise deals for the company.
  • Planners develop merchandise assortments for all stores by analyzing individual store needs.
  • Merchandisers examine trends in the fashion industry and translate these trends to meet the needs of the consumer in order to boost sales through in-store marketing.
PositionAverage Salary
VP Merchandising $217,150
General Merchandise Manager (GMM) $222,500
Divisional Merchandise Manager (DMM) $212,500
Merchandiser $127,200
Associate Merchandiser $ 65,000
Assistant Merchandiser $ 51,750
Planning VP $212,000
Planning Director $140,000
Planner $ 74,150
Assistant Planner $ 47,500
Allocator $ 44,700
Director of Visual Merchandising $122,500
Visual Coordinator $ 45,000

Apparel Production

  • Jobs in the production field are in high demand.
  • Individuals working within the production field research and analyze all costs associated with producing a garment and also make decisions regarding sourcing, importing, and exporting on a global basis.
  • They also work very closely with suppliers, both international and domestic, to ensure that a product is delivered on time and meets quality assurance and quality control issues.
PositionAverage Salary
VP Production $154,600
Production Manager $81,000
Pre-Production Manager $72,900
Overseas Production Manager $76,800
Production Assistant $42,900
Production Supervisor $53,350
Production Controller $53,200
Product Costing $43,800
Fabrics & Trim Buyer $64,750
Purchasing Assistant $44,350

Apparel Sales & Marketing

  • Individuals involved in sales and marketing manage marketing initiatives from concept through implementation in the marketplace for a product.
  • Marketers increase company revenue through sales and strategic marketing plans.
  • Specific areas of interest in this field include: e-commerce (online retailing), public relations, fashion week events, brand image management, and advertising.
PositionAverage Salary
VP Sales $180,600
National Sales Manager $107,000
Sales/Account Executive $109,650
Creative Director $132,500
Brand Manager $115,000
Marketing Manager $67,350
Showroom Representative $40,000
Showroom Manager $37,460

Apparel Technical Design

  • Technical designers work extensively with computer-aided design (CAD) software to create garment designs and specifications.
  • They establish and review fabric and construction guidelines.
  • Designers also oversee proper construction and fit of the garment from design all the way through production.
PositionAverage Salary
Designer $81,900
Associate Designer $55,250
Assistant Designer $41,400
CAD Operator $40,800
Technical Designer/PDM $58,500
Assistant Technical Designer $43,500
First Patternmaker $71,700
Production Patternmaker $75,200
Computer Patternmaker $81,650
Sample Room Manager $36,750
Cost Sheet Developer $43,350
Spec Technician $40,900