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Columbus Fashion Careers: Employment & Salary Trends, Career Options, & Training Programs for Fashion Designers and Merchandisers

Written by FS StaffOctober 14, 2011
Columbus Ohio

The Columbus Fashion Scene

Columbus is one of the largest cities in the U.S. and in 2006, it was ranked as the 8th best big city in the country by CNN. This art and culture mecca is home to five of the biggest retail brands in the U.S. including Victoria's Secret, Abercrombie & Fitch, Bath & Body Works, Hollister, and Big Lots. Columbus is also packed with museums such as the Columbus Museum of Art, elaborate entertainment venues such as Nationwide Arena, and hundreds of shopping venues from the upscale shops of Polaris Fashion Place and Easton Town Center, to the thrift stores of West 5th Avenues’ Resale Row.

Columbus also has it’s very own fashion week. Columbus Fashion Week’s goal is to help local designers become players in the cosmopolitan fashion world. The event features creations by emerging local and established designers, model competitions, demonstrations, and more.

In addition to an active fashion scene and thriving retail industry, Columbus offers access to several schools that offer fashion training programs. Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD) and Ohio State University are popular options.

Columbus Fashion Design and Fashion Merchandising Schools and Programs

The state of Ohio is home to 213 colleges and universities—more than double the national average of 88. The schools here are a mix of traditional universities, technical schools, and art and design schools. In Columbus, Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD) and Ohio State University offer several competitive programs for aspiring fashion designers and fashion merchandisers. CCAD offers a degree in fashion design. Many CCAD graduates become independent designers, while others work for popular companies from Abercrombie & Fitch to Pepe Jeans of London.

Columbus Fashion Design and Fashion Merchandising Employers

As mentioned earlier, many Columbus fashion designers work independently, while others work for companies such as Limited Brands, Abercrombie & Fitch, Ann Taylor, Tommy Hilfiger, Nautica, and Pepe Jeans of London. They work in the areas of creative design, technical design, technical production, pattern making, administration sales, and retail. Fashion merchandisers also work in retail as well as promotions and consulting. Employment opportunities can be found all over the city with downtown and the major shopping districts leading the pack.

Fashion Design and Fashion Merchandising Careers at a Glance

As of July 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics had not reported employment or salary figures for Columbus fashion designers. However, the state of Ohio is home to 310 salaried fashion designers. Based on the number of retail venues, fashion events, and production facilities here, it’s safe to assume that a significant number of designers live and work in Columbus. Employment of fashion designers across the nation is expected to grow by 1 percent between 2008 and 2018. Ohio fashion designers average $67,890 per year. Nationwide, fashion designers average around $61,160. The lowest paid fashion designers average $32,150, and the highest paid salaried designers average $124,780 per year.

Figures for fashion merchandisers have not been reported either, but a significant part of the job involves creating window displays and managing the overall look and feel of stores. Nearly 2,000 merchandise displayers work in the state of Ohio. Close to 700 live and work in Columbus.

For more information about the fashion design and fashion merchandising industry, visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics at