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Accessory Design Education and Training Program Information

Designing belts, handbags, shoes and jewelry requires the skills of a specialized fashion designer called an accessory designer. Accessory designers need at the minimum an associate's degree, but can pursue a bachelor's or master's degree.

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Essential Information

Undergraduate students are exposed to such topics as the technology used in fashion, production, materials and drawing. Applicants to these programs will need a high school diploma, but may also be called on to submit a design portfolio or have degree (for bachelor's programs). Applicants may also need to submit ACT or SAT scores. Graduate accessory design programs build on undergraduate studies through advanced coursework in marketing, drawing and patterns.


Associate's Degree Programs in Accessory Design

These programs emphasize drawing and pattern-making techniques for creating belts, bags or other accessories. Students learn the latest technology in the field, incorporating print and electronic resources, as well as the materials used and the latest fashion trends. Credits may be transferred towards a bachelor's degree program. Courses may include:

  • Merchandising and design
  • Merchandising visualization
  • Design of digital catalogs
  • Materials
  • Package production

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Bachelor's Degree Programs in Accessory Design

These programs teach students to combine form and function to complete an outfit. There are classes on subjects such as craftsmanship, materials and intensive problem solving. Students learn many different methods, as well as the business side of accessory design. The process of concept to completed prototype is emphasized. Sample courses include:

  • Sketching
  • Construction fundamentals
  • Basics of apparel design
  • Development and concept
  • Fundamentals of textiles

Popular Careers

Students with an associate's degree in accessory design can enter many fields. Careers open to these graduates include:

  • Jewelry designer
  • Handbag designer
  • Shoe designer

Graduates who have a bachelor's degree in accessory design have many options. They can qualify for such entry-level positions as:

  • Design assistant
  • Freelance designer
  • Entrepreneur
  • Computer-aided design operators
  • Merchandiser

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that fashion designers (which included accessory designers) were predicted to see a 3% increase in employment from 2014-2024. Workers involved in specialized design services, as well as those who are self employed, may see some growth during this period. Fierce competition was expected for this field, with the majority of job openings concentrated in fashion-oriented cities in California and New York. Fashion designers earned a mean yearly wage of $73,180 in May 2015.

Continuing Education

For those interested in continuing their education, programs in accessory design at the master's level are extremely rare in the United States, though those who enroll can earn a Master of Arts or Master of Fine Arts. At this level, accessory design students acquire an awareness of the industry as well as its markets. Students learn how to translate two-dimensional conceptual drawings into three-dimensional products. Pattern-making, design skills and expertise in industry-specific technology are also stressed.

Students who complete an accessory design degree program may become designers, merchandisers, or design assistants. Additional education is available through master's degree program in arts or fine arts.

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