There are many career paths that related to the multi-billion dollar quilting industry.  Here is a few of them, we will continue to expand this list, if you have any to add please leave a comment here.
Wondering about a job/profession? check out the US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook it is very informative.
How about being a Textile Artist?  Check out what these artists have created with fabric & thread:

Fashion Industry - from wikipedia
  • A fashion designer conceives garment combinations of line, proportion, color, and texture. While sewing and pattern-making skills are beneficial, they are not a pre-requisite of successful fashion design. Most fashion designers are formally trained or apprenticed.
  • A pattern maker (or pattern cutter) drafts the shapes and sizes of a garment's pieces. This may be done manually with paper and measuring tools or by using an AutoCAD computer software program. Another method is to drape fabric directly onto a dress form. The resulting pattern pieces can be constructed to produce the intended design of the garment and required size. Formal training is usually required for working as a pattern marker.
  • A tailor makes custom designed garments made to the client's measure; especially suits (coat and trousers, jacket and skirt, et cetera). Tailors usually undergo an apprenticeship or other formal training.
  • A textile designer designs fabric weaves and prints for clothes and furnishings. Most textile designers are formally trained as apprentices and in school.
  • A stylist co-ordinates the clothes, jewelry, and accessories used in fashion photography and catwalk presentations. A stylist may also work with an individual client to design a coordinated wardrobe of garments. Many stylists are trained in fashion design, the history of fashion and historical costume, and have a high level of expertise in the current fashion market and future market trends. However, some simply have a strong aesthetic sense for pulling great looks together.
  • A buyer selects and buys the mix of clothing available in retail shops, department stores and chain stores. Most fashion buyers are trained in business and/or fashion studies.
  • A seamstress sews ready to wear or mass produced clothing by hand or with a sewing machine, either in a garment shop or as a sewing machine operator in a factory. She (or he) may not have the skills to make (design and cut) the garments, or to fit them on a model.
  • A teacher of fashion design teaches the art and craft of fashion design in art or fashion school.
  • A custom clothier makes custom-made garments to order, for a given customer.
  • A dressmaker specializes in custom-made women's clothes: day, cocktail, and evening dresses, business clothes and suits, trousseaus, sports clothes, and lingerie.
  • An illustrator draws and paints clothing designs for commercial use.
  • A fashion forecaster predicts what colours, styles and shapes will be popular ("on-trend") before the garments are on sale in stores.
  • A model wears and displays clothes at fashion shows and in photographs.
  • A fit model aids the fashion designer by wearing and commenting on the fit of clothes during their design and pre-manufacture. Fit models need to be a particular size for this purpose.
  • A fashion journalist writes fashion articles describing the garments presented or fashion trends, for magazines or newspapers.
  • An alterations specialist (alterationist) adjusts the fit of completed garments, usually ready-to-wear, and sometimes re-styles them. NOTE: despite tailors altering garments to fit the client, not all alterationists are tailors.
  • An Image Consultant, wardrobe consultant or fashion advisor recommends styles and colors that are flattering to the client.

How to Become a Fabric Designer By an eHow Contributor

Fabric designers are artists who contribute directly to the beauty of everyday life. They create fabric for one-of-a-kind pieces of furniture and clothing and also fabric that is manufactured for mass reproduction. If you have an interest in fabric and a creative streak, you may have a promising future in fabric design. A career as a fabric designer promises constant challenges and opportunities to explore possibilities in color, line and style.


Develop Your Design Sense

  • Go to museums and art galleries to learn the elements of good design. Copy the designs you like and see if you can improve upon them.
  • Read design books. Buy or borrow books on color, shape, line and style. Read them to learn as much as you can about the elements of design.
  • Draw and paint nonstop. You must practice your skills to have a successful career in fabric design.

Learn the Business

  • Go to school. Take classes or earn a degree in art and design. Classes on weaving, knitting and printing will help you learn what is possible with fabric.
  • Join an internship or apprenticeship program. These will give you real-world, hands-on experience in fabric design. This is excellent preparation for your career.
  • Learn business skills. Many fabric designers end up owning their own businesses, which requires skills in accounting, finance and money management.
  • Practice public speaking. You will need to be able to talk, often with only a moment's notice, to other designers, manufacturers and clients.

Polish Your Skills

  • Buy fabric. You will need to practice your designs on real fabric. Try painting your ideas on cotton, velvet or linen.
  • Use your fabric. Make a shirt, dress or pillow using fabric you have designed. Then let others see your work.
  • Build a portfolio. Collect photographs and samples of your work to show to prospective employers or buyers. Don't leave home without it.
  • Take risks. Talk to strangers about your designs, try new designs and new techniques. For a successful career in fabric design, you must trust your judgment and take chances when necessary.
Occupations in the Textile Industry from Bureau of Labor Statistics

The textile and apparel industries offer employment opportunities in a variety of occupations, but production occupations accounted for 66 percent of all jobs; many of which are unique to the industry.  Additional jobs found at the headquarters of some of these textile and apparel companies are generally classified in a separate industry.

Production occupations. As in most manufacturing industries, the process of creating finished products is broken into a number of steps. Workers in these industries usually repeat a small part of the manufacturing process, using tools and machines where needed. This allows manufacturers to create textile products from raw materials quickly and efficiently.

Fabric and apparel patternmakers convert clothing designers’ original models of garments into separate parts that can be produced in mass quantities. They use computers to lay out the parts and draw in details to indicate the position of pleats, buttonholes, and other features, making adjustments as needed for different sizes.

Extruding or forming machine operators set up and operate machines that extrude or force liquid synthetic material, such as rayon, fiberglass, or liquid polymers through small holes and draw out filaments. Other operators put natural fibers, such as cotton or wool, through carding and combing machines that clean and align them into short lengths. Textile winding, twisting, and drawing-out machine operators make yarn from this material, taking care to repair any breaks. Textile bleaching and dyeing machine operators control machines that wash, bleach, and dye yarn or finished fabrics. Textile knitting and weaving machine operators place the yarn on machines that weave, knit, loop, or tuft it.
Textile cutting machine setters, operators, and tenders use patterns to prepare the pieces from which finished apparel will be made. Sewing machine operators join these pieces together, reinforce seams, and attach buttons, hooks, zippers, and accessories. In some cases, hand sewers may be employed to do specialty work and make adjustments.

Shoe machine operators and tenders tend machines used in making footwear. They perform a variety of functions, such as cutting, joining, and finishing. Shoe and leather workers and repairers may finish work that cannot be performed by a machine. Others are employed in cobbler shops, where they repair shoes and other leather products, such as luggage.

Pressers receive a garment after it has been assembled. Pressers eliminate wrinkles and give shape to finished products. Inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers inspect finished products to ensure consistency and quality.

Other occupations. Industrial machinery mechanics inspect machines to make sure they are working properly. They clean, oil, and grease parts and tighten belts on a regular basis. When necessary, they make adjustments or replace worn parts and put the equipment back together. Mechanics are under pressure to fix equipment quickly because breakdowns usually stop or slow production. In addition to making repairs, mechanics help install new machines. They may enter instructions for computer-controlled machinery and demonstrate the equipment to machine operators. Engineers and engineering technicians account for less than 1 percent of employment in these industries. Some engineers are textile engineers, who specialize in the design of textile machinery or new textile production methods, or the study of fibers. The industries also employ other types of engineers, particularly industrial and mechanical engineers.

Fashion designers are the artists of the apparel industry. They create ideas for a range of products including coats, suits, dresses, hats, and underwear. Fashion designers begin the process by making rough sketches of garments or accessories, often using computer-assisted design (CAD) software. This software prints detailed designs from a computer drawing. It can also store fashion styles and colors that can be accessed and easily changed. Designers then create the pattern pieces that will be used to construct the finished garment. They measure and draw pattern pieces to actual size on paper. Then, they use these pieces to measure and cut pattern pieces in a sample fabric. Designers sew the pieces together and fit them on a model. They examine the sample garment and make changes until they get the effect they want. Some designers use assistants to cut and sew pattern pieces to their specifications.

 Quilt Pattern Designer 
  • Here's an interesting story about the founder/Owner of Antler Quilt Designs, Doug Leko.  He is 17 years old and he loves to design and make quilts.  His mom owns a quilt store and got him started in quilting about 11 years ago.   If he can do it, just think of your possibilities!
  • Grace Full Creations has The Creators Corner, profiling a variety of artists, pattern designers, and quilters as they make their art for all to see.