Estimated Salary (in NYC): $42,000
Where to Apply: Fashion Jobs Central, Fashion.net, Style Careers
How to Make It: Get a degree in fashion design. Intern. A lot. Be reliable, punctual, and willing to be overworked and underpaid. Have a genuine passion for your boss' work.
No great designer works alone. As a design assistant, you won't be sketching the next collection, but you will help make sure it comes together. You'll get a firsthand look at fabrics, travel a lot to tradeshows, factories, and yes, fashion week. But, you'll spend a lot of that time putting in long hours of work: fitting models, tracking samples, and making sure the show or presentation goes on as smoothly as possible.
It's a lot of work, but extremely rewarding if you have a passion for it. It's a great feeling to hear positive feedback on a great show after months and months of work helping put a collection together. Who knows? Give it a few years, and you might develop the network necessary to branch out and start your own line.