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Apparel & Accessories Design: Adult Education Info

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

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Fashion design is perhaps fantasized as a glamorous career, but there is definitely real work involved. Designers of clothing and accessories need to understand how to work with a variety of fabrics, materials, and even computer software in order to transfer an artistic idea into something wearable or useable. This article introduces what to expect in terms of education and employment for prospective apparel and accessories designers.

Essential Information

Individuals who design shoes, purses and dresses in the fashion industry are called apparel and accessories designers. Adults who are interested in this field can prepare for their careers by earning 2-year or 4-year degrees in fashion design or a related field. After graduation, designers can work for retailers, tailoring shops or sewing factories to gain experience.

Required Education Bachelor's degree, although a good portfolio is the most important factor to an employer
Other Requirements Industry experience
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 1%*
Median Salary (2018) $72,720*

Education Information for Designing Shoes, Purses and Dresses

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most employers require that apparel and accessories designers hold an associate or bachelor's degree related to fashion design. Adults have several options for completing this requirement. They may choose fashion design degree programs, which train students to design apparel and accessories. They might also select fashion merchandising degree programs, although these programs focus more on business training for the fashion industry, rather than design. No matter which type of fashion degree program adults choose, they can usually focus on the area of design they're interested in by selecting electives related to that specialty.

Fashion design degree programs include classes that teach about both designing and assembling apparel and accessories. Design courses include fashion illustration, model drawing, technical sketching and pattern making. Assembly courses cover information about textiles, garment draping, apparel construction and tailoring. Many programs also include training on computer-aided design (CAD) software, which is used for designing apparel, accessories and patterns through computerized 3-dimensional modeling.

Accessory Design Degree Programs

Adults who wish to design shoes and purses might consider degree programs that focus specifically on designing fashion accessories. In these programs, students learn about common accessory textiles, including leather, fur, fabric, metals and jewelry. Coursework also includes footwear design, handbag design and accessories construction.

Training Requirements for Designing Shoes, Purses and Dresses

Adults considering employment as full-time apparel and accessories designers can further their careers by gaining on-the-job training in other areas of the fashion industry. To develop an eye for fashion and seasonal trends, for instance, some aspiring designers work for fashion retailers. In order to understand the construction side of design, some individuals work in tailoring shops or sewing factories.

Although not required, adults can gain extra design training by working as entry-level designers. Workers in these positions usually create patterns based on the designs drawn by more experienced designers. Pattern making provides hands-on training that allows entry-level designers to better understand how a drawing becomes an actual garment or accessory.

After working in pattern design for a while, individuals can obtain additional training by being promoted to a design team. New design team members generally work on smaller projects as they observe more experienced team members. Many design teams use a mentor training style to help new workers become expert designers.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported an annual median salary of $72,720 for fashion designers. According to the BLS, an increase of 1% in employment opportunities for fashion designers was expected from 2018-2028. The most expansion for designer jobs was predicted in the areas of specialized design services, performing arts, spectator sports and related industries, during that decade.

Most fashion designers earn a bachelor's degree to gain knowledge in fabrics, CAD software, and marketing before beginning their career. From there, they often enter the job market as interns or assistants. While job competition is highly competitive, having education, experience, and a stellar portfolio can make a huge difference in securing a fashion design position.

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