Fashion Clothes Designer: Job Description & Employment Information

Fashion clothes designers combine artistic vision, textile expertise, and business acumen to create pieces of clothing that are wearable works of art for mass market sale and niche design. Read on to learn more about the required skills, education options and salary expectations. View article »

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  • 0:00 Career Definition
  • 0:27 Required Education and Skills
  • 1:14 Job Outlook and Salary
  • 2:05 Alternate Career Options

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Video Transcript

Career Definition

Fashion clothes designers review industry reports and observe popular culture to shape a creative vision that will appeal to consumers. They then develop hand-sketches for approval, choose fabrics and produce prototypes to polish their designs. After final adjustments, a patternmaker develops a precise pattern to ensure fit of the finished garment.

Required Education and Skills

Degree Level Associate or bachelor's degree
Degree Field(s) Fashion design or a related field
Licensure/Certification None
Experience None; internships valuable
Key Skills Knowledge about textiles, ornamentation, and fashion trends; strong sewing and pattern-making skills; ability to meet tight deadlines, react quickly to changing demands, and learn from critique
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 3% growth
Median Annual Salary (2015) $63,670

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Employers usually seek fashion clothes designers with a 2- or 4-year degree in fashion design or a related field, who are knowledgeable about textiles, ornamentation, and fashion trends. Designers must also have strong sewing and pattern-making skills, even if they don't perform these tasks themselves. Colleges, universities, and private schools of art and design offer Bachelor of Fine Arts and associate degrees in fashion design.

An artistic sense and textile skills alone are not enough to succeed in this industry, though. Fashion clothes designers must possess a thick skin and an ability to thrive under pressure. They must be able to meet tight deadlines, react quickly to changing demands, and learn from critique while maintaining their individual style.

Job Outlook and Salary

The glamour and creativity of the fashion industry attracts many designers and results in low job turnover, producing fierce competition for each position. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that the field of fashion design would see job growth of just 3% from 2014 to 2024. The best job opportunities are expected with firms that design mass-market clothing.

Median annual earnings for fashion designers were $63,670 in May 2015, per the BLS, though earnings in fashion design can vary widely based on employer and years of experience. Starting salaries in fashion design tend to be very low until designers are established in the industry. An impressive portfolio is often the deciding factor in getting a job, according to the BLS.

Alternate Career Options

Those with artistic flair might also consider the field of graphic design. Usually needing a bachelor's degree, these designers create visual images by hand or with computers for promotions and advertising campaigns. Growth of 1% was predicted from 2014 to 2024, according to the BLS, and this occupation paid an annual median salary of $46,900 in 2015.

Loving fashion might also lead individuals to the modeling profession. These professionals pose for photographers and artists to advertise various types of products. The BLS predicted no change in jobs for models during the 2014 to 2024 decade and reported an annual median wage of $27,530 in 2015.

In summary, fashion clothes designers envision and then produce prototypes of designs, combining their own talents and creativity with knowledge of the fashion industry and popular culture. Employment is this field is fiercely competitive, and an impressive portfolio could prove paramount in landing a job.

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