The Salary of a Movie Costume Designer

by Jared Lewis; Updated September 26, 2017
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Movie costume designers are among the highest-paid designers in the entire fashion industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 260 interior designer employed in this capacity. These comprised a small segment of the 15,060 fashion designers nationwide. Salaries earned by those in the motion picture costume design field typically exceeded the average amount made by other fashion designers by a considerable margin.

Average Salary

The average salary of those working as fashion designers in the motion picture industry was $92,570 per year in 2010, according to the BLS. The Bureau indicates that the average salary for all fashion designers nationwide was significantly lower: $74,440 per year in 2010. Only those designers in the wholesale electronics field made higher salaries at an average of $99,010 per year.

Pay Scale

Placing the salary of movie industry costume designers within the larger pay scale for all fashion designers nationwide can provide some additional insight. According to the BLS, the median salary for all designers nationwide was $64,530 per year in 2010. Those comprising the middle 50 percent of the pay scale made salaries that ranged from $44,150 to $90,590 on an annual basis. The highest-paid designers made salaries of more than $130,890 annually, while those at the bottom of the pay scale made less than $32,500.

Location

The location in which the fashion designer works plays a role in determining how much she's paid. Even though fashion designers in the movie costume design industry were among the highest-paid in the fashion design field, those working in California -- the movie entertainment center of the country -- ranked only fifth in terms of average salary. According to the BLS, California designers made $72,500, on average, in 2010. Those working in New York made an average salary of $81,990 per year, but those in New Hampshire were the highest-paid designers, making an average salary of $87,810.

Job Outlook

The BLS indicates that the number of jobs for those in the fashion design field will grow very little or not at all from 2008 to 2018. Significant competition for jobs exists within this field, especially within the motion picture and music industries. The best job opportunities will likely be in the retail world, according to the BLS, but those designers with significant creativity and the ability to network may be able to work their way into the movie industry.

About the Author

Jared Lewis is a professor of history, philosophy and the humanities. He has taught various courses in these fields since 2001. A former licensed financial adviser, he now works as a writer and has published numerous articles on education and business. He holds a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in theology and has completed doctoral work in American history.

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