High Fashion Designer: Job Outlook & Career Requirements

Mar 06, 2019

High fashion designers create one-of-kind garment or clothing prototypes for clients and retail establishments. Continue reading for more information about required skills and job responsibilities, as well as the career prospects and salary potential in the creative field of fashion design.

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Career Definition for a High Fashion Designer

High fashion designers use their eye for fashion to conceptualize and create designs for the runway and retail. Responsibilities include studying fashion trends, making sketches, choosing materials and producing prototypes. In more senior roles at larger apparel companies, fashion designers often focus on creating the initial design and overseeing a team who executes it. Some fashion designers might specialize in a particular area, such as clothing, footwear or accessories design.

Education Formal education not commonly required
Job Skills Adaptable, artistic, computer skills, interpersonal skills
Median Salary (2017) $67,420 (all fashion designers)
Job Growth (2016-2026) 3% (all fashion designers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Formal education is not required, but a 2-year or 4-year degree in fashion design, fashion merchandising or fine art can be a boon to job-seekers, according to the Princeton Review (www.princetonreview.com). Fashion design programs often include internships, which provide beginning professionals with the opportunity to gain real-world experience, develop a portfolio and network with industry leaders. Relevant coursework typically includes training in drawing, color theory, textiles, trend forecasting, marketing and business.

Skills Required

A career in fashion design requires a high degree of adaptability and perseverance. Designers often work by contract, and hours can be unpredictable and demanding. Fashion designers must also possess a diverse skill set that includes proficiency with both hand sketching and computer-aided design (CAD) programs, familiarity with materials and textiles, an understanding of the fashion industry and sewing experience. A basic knowledge of manufacturing and an aptitude for marketing and business can also help designers advance in the field.

Career Outlook and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted 3% growth in employment prospects for fashion designers nationwide during the 2016-2026 decade. Although the field is competitive, experienced designers with strong portfolios should enjoy the best opportunities. The BLS reported in 2017 that fashion designers made a median annual wage of $67,420, and the top 10% had earnings of $135,490 and above (www.bls.gov).

Alternate Career Options

Those seeking to become high fashion designers may consider other occupations in the fashion industry, including industrial design, as well as jewelry and gem design.

Industrial Designers

Industrial designers use their understanding of art and engineering to develop concepts and prototypes for everyday consumer products, including appliances, cars, toys and other goods. Entry-level requirements usually include a bachelor's degree in architecture, engineering or industrial design. The BLS has projected a 4%, or slower-than-average, increase in jobs for industrial designers nationwide between 2016 and 2026. In May 2017, commercial and industrial designers received median yearly salaries of $65,970, with those in the highest 10% earning $106,950 or more (www'bls.gov).

Jewelers and Precious Stone and Metal Workers

Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers create, repair and sell jewelry. While most jewelry and gem designers and workers acquire their training on the job, formal instruction can also be found at art or trade schools. According to the BLS, job opportunities for jewelers and precious stone and metal workers across the country are expected to decrease by 7% between 2016 and 2026, due primarily to overseas production. As of May 2017, professionals in this field earned median annual wages of $37,960, with those in the top 10% earning $65,140 or above (www.bls.gov).

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