Shoe Designer: Career Profile and Educational Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a shoe designer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and employment outlook to find out if this is the career for you.

Essential Information

Shoe designers use their knowledge of fashion trends, materials and design to conceptualize and develop new footwear. Aspiring shoe designers who complete an associate's or bachelor's degree program in fashion design may have a competitive edge in the job market. Typically, they should also have a portfolio of work to show prospective employers. An eye for detail, creativity and knowledge of CAD software are also helpful for shoe designers.

Required Education Associate's or bachelor's degree (bachelor's degree is most common)
Other Requirements Portfolio
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022) 3% decline for fashion designers*
Median Annual Salary (2013) $63,760 for fashion designers*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Profile for a Shoe Designer

From conceptualization to final product, shoe designers create shoes for new or existing footwear lines. Using their extensive knowledge of industry trends, design concepts, patterns and materials, they sketch designs by hand or with the assistance of computer-aided design (CAD) software. Once the designs are complete, a prototype is created, refined and used to make samples for industry shows. The level of hands-on involvement shoe designers have throughout the design process depends on their experience level and the size of the company for which they work.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted a 3% decline in the employment of fashion designers, including shoe designers, from 2012-2022 and noted that competition for open positions would be fierce because many people are drawn to this industry ( In May 2013, the BLS reported that the median salary of fashion designers, including shoe designers, was $63,760.

Educational Requirements for Shoe Designers

Aspiring shoe designers can complete 2-year or 4-year programs in fashion design, although according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most earn a bachelor's degree. By enrolling in fashion design degree programs, aspiring shoe designers develop and hone their craft while building design portfolios. Some designers may pursue a broad course of study in fashion design, while others take specialized courses in accessory or shoe design. Courses may include footwear design, design software, materials, marketing, industry trends and advanced footwear design. While the majority of employers prefer candidates with college degrees, past experience in conjunction with demonstrable creative skills are often the primary prerequisites for employment.

Skills Needed to Become a Shoe Designer

An eye for aesthetic detail is essential to become a shoe designer because these professionals consider color, balance, line and other design principles. A flair for fashion and foresight regarding upcoming industry trends are also important qualities. Shoe designers usually integrate paper-based sketches with CAD software, which requires that they have the ability to sketch. Even if they don't physically create prototypes, knowledge of how to construct shoes is important for communication purposes. In addition to creative talent, good communication skills are vital for success.

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