Footwear Designer: Education Requirements and Career Info

Jun 13, 2021

There's a surprising combination of aesthetic and marketing principles involved in footwear design. Footwear designers must keep up with current trends, utilize design aesthetics and hone their technical skills in order to be successful. They must also have an associate's or bachelor's degree in fashion design.

Essential Information

Footwear designers are innovative artists who use their technical skills and distinct aesthetic sense to develop trend-setting shoe styles. They pay attention to detail, form, color, texture and pattern in creating functional and fashionable footwear. Rather than enrolling in a program that teaches only footwear design, individuals usually pursue a fashion design associate's or bachelor's degree, which also prepares them to design other types of accessories. Aspiring designers need to know how to draft freehand and with the help of computer-aided drafting software, as well as be able to construct shoes. Students in fashion design programs may complete internships that help build these skills.

Required Education Associate's or bachelor's degree in fashion design
Required Skills Knowledge of freehand and computer-aided drafting, shoe construction techniques and artistic techniques
Projected Job Growth -4% for all fashion designers from 2019-2029*
Average Salary (2020) $87,210 annually for all fashion designers *

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements

Footwear designers usually have a bachelor's degree or an associate's degree in fashion design from an accredited institution. The instructional program includes pattern making, fashion sketching, textiles, costuming, introduction to computer graphics and advanced computer-aided fashion design. There are also fashion academies that offer courses specifically for shoe design, millinery, accessories and handbag design.

Footwear design programs help students become familiar with freehand and CAD footwear drafting, technology in material analysis, styling methods, hands-on shoe construction techniques and other technical and artistic aspects of footwear design. Moreover, design degrees provide students with a complementary background in research trends, professional presentation, business planning and marketing that may help them in creating their portfolio for employment or establishing their own fashion label.

Footwear design students typically receive additional firsthand training and internships in design studios, major accessories and footwear companies, showrooms and other fashion avenues. They explore the development of luxurious and mass-market shoes from conceptualization to actual solution, learn the engineering components behind the construction of athletic footwear and apply detailing in different types of shoes, such as ones used for dancing, field work, tactical operations, parties and other social events.

Career Info

Most designers work in fashion centers and wholesale businesses, some sell their designs to retail or department stores and others are self-employed. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment opportunities for fashion designers, overall, are expected to decrease by four percent from 2019-2029 ( In 2020, the average annual salary for fashion designers was $87,210.

Footwear designers must have a keen eye for detail, a knowledge of fashion trends and the technical skills to make their designs a reality. They also need a strong understanding of business and marketing principles, all of which are typically taught in a fashion design degree program.

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