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Accessory Designer: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Accessory designers require some formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and employment outlook to see if this is the right career for you.

When you buy a scarf, bag or belt, you're purchasing a product that was made by an accessory designer. These designers use artistic skills and computer-aided design software to develop patterns, and may be involved in the production and marketing of their creations.

Essential Information

Accessory designers work in the fashion industry designing bags, belts, scarves and other fashion accessories. They might create shoes, eyewear, jewelry or other items. Additionally, they study trends, sketch designs and oversee the production of their work.

A bachelor's degree is commonly required for employment. Accessory designers typically produce a portfolio of work to show to prospective employers, which might include large fashion labels and specialty boutiques.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Portfolio
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 3% for fashion designers
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $63,670 for fashion designers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Duties

Accessory design begins with research. Designers assess current trends and predict what will be in style in the upcoming seasons. They use trend reports to decide on colors, fabrics and shapes for their accessories.

To create sketches for their designs, accessory designers generally begin with hand sketches, but they also might utilize computer-aided design (CAD) software. Designers produce prototypes of their accessories and make modifications before going into production.

Depending on their specialization and place of employment, accessory designers might create patterns, sew samples and participate in each stage of design. With larger companies, accessory designers are usually responsible for more specific tasks, such as sketching or choosing materials. At smaller fashion houses, they might develop an item from conceptualization through production. Designers also might participate in the marketing of their products and help organize fashion shows, cater to specific clientele or work with advertisers.

Requirements

Accessory designers generally need a bachelor's degree. Candidates might study fashion design, fashion merchandising or accessory design. While coursework involves drawing, trends and materials, students also might take classes in jewelry, handbag, shoe or other accessory design. Prospective accessory designers must create a portfolio to showcase their best work.

Many programs require or recommend an internship, and it can be beneficial to intern at a fashion house or design studio. For example, a student wishing to design handbags might work for a company that produces purses and luggage. Designers also might gain experience by working in retail or performing alterations.

Accessory designers must have a thorough knowledge of design concepts and be able to sketch effectively, understand textiles and read market trends.

Career Outlook and Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of fashion designers - including accessory designers - is predicted to increase 3% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). In May 2015, the BLS reported that fashion designers earned an annual median salary of $63,670.

Some of the vital skills required for a career in accessory design include drawing, using computer-aided design software, and an understanding of fashion trends. Accessory designers are required to have a bachelor's degree, and during their studies they should build a portfolio and can gain experience through an internship. Job opportunities for fashion designers, including those who design accessories, are predicted to grow slower than average from 2014-2024.

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