Associate of Arts (AA): Fashion Design Degree Overview

Oct 29, 2019

Essential Information

An AA degree in fashion design is suited for individuals who want to learn about creating the latest clothing and style trends, designing unique wearable pieces, and showcasing their talents with creative design ideas. These programs usually don't have any prerequisites other than having a high school diploma or GED. Most programs take about two years to complete and equip students with the fundamental skills in fashion design. However, some employers still prefer those who obtained a bachelor's degree.

Associate Degree Programs in Fashion Design

In these programs, students learn fundamental skills, such as measuring a model for the proper fit, choosing fabric, cutting different fabrics, and sewing materials using various techniques. Students also focus on developing their creative skills, learning how to work with color, finding inspiration for designs, and keeping their work original. Some of the commonly required classes include:

  • Fashion line planning and development
  • Garment construction
  • Fashion trends
  • Fashion creation techniques
  • Computer-aided design
  • Fashion history

Popular Career Options

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), an associate degree in fashion design is a common minimum requirement of employers in the fashion design industry ( Those with associate degrees in fashion design may find jobs with fabric manufacturers, clothing companies, or custom workshops. Graduates can use their skills to work in areas of fashion that include production, design, merchandising, and management. Graduates may work as:

  • Fashion designers
  • Tailors
  • Pattern makers
  • Textile designers
  • Sample makers

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Fashion designers earned a median annual salary of $72,720 as of May 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), while those working as tailors, dressmakers, and custom sewers earned a median annual salary of $31,000, and fabric or apparel patternmakers took home a median annual salary of $40,560. From 2018 to 2028, 1% job growth is expected for fashion designers, and job growth of 3% is projected for art and design workers. A decline of 13% is expected in jobs for fabric and apparel patternmakers, per the BLS.

Continuing Education Information

As noted by the BLS, some fashion design employers may prefer to hire those who have bachelor's degrees. An individual may be able to apply some credits earned in an associate-level program to a bachelor's degree. Most advancement within the fashion industry is based upon skill and recognition level, according to the BLS, so work experience and exposure may be most helpful to an individual's career advancement.

By earning an AA in fashion design, students can gain a basic understanding of the fashion industry. After they graduate, they can immediately enter the field or pursue a bachelor's degree in order to increase their competitiveness.

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