Patternmakers create the master layouts that are utilized to mass produce garments and other textiles. Most patternmakers are trained on the job, and while earnings are low compared to other occupations, patternmakers can take advantage of benefits such as being able to purchase garments at discounted rates.
As of May 2009, the 6,640 patternmakers employed in the U.S. earned a mean hourly wage of $20.64. The salary range for patternmakers is large -- the bottom 10 percent make $8.83 and the top 10 percent are paid $36.63. The median hourly wage for this occupation is $18.75, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' occupational employment survey. Average wages can vary greatly depending on the location and industry in which a patternmaker is employed.
The apparel manufacturing industry employs the most patternmakers -- an estimated 3,410 -- and pays them a mean hourly wage of $22.41. The second-largest employer -- apparel wholesalers -- pays patternmakers $25.19 per hour. The highest-paying industries for this occupation pay a mean hourly wage of at least $20.00. Topping the list are management companies, at $26.91, and specialized design services at $25.72 per hour.
The top-paying states for patternmakers are New York, California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Washington. In these states, patternmakers earned an hourly wage that ranged from $17.99 to $29.10 per hour. With respect to metropolitan areas, New York pays patternmakers a mean hourly wage of $29.48. Los Angeles employs more patternmakers -- 2,010 to New York's 1,070 -- but pays them an hourly wage of $23.26. However, the top-paying metropolitan areas for patternmakers all pay hourly wages of at least $20.00 per hour.
As textile production moves overseas, the outlook for patternmaking jobs in the U.S. is negative. Through the year 2018, employment for patternmakers is expected to decline by 27 percent. Available jobs will result largely from the need to replace currently employed patternmakers; the BLS notes that turnover in the occupation is high. Patternmakers can increase their hourly wages by joining a union.