A career in fabric design doesn't require a college degree, but specialized design education and experience will help you earn a higher level of pay and seniority. Educational programs in textile design range from two years for a certificate to five or six years for a master's degree. When you enter the job market, you can choose to work independently as a fabric designer, or seek out a job at a design firm or corporation, where you will likely begin as a design assistant and work your way up.
Find schools that offer these popular programs
- Apparel and Textile Manufacturing
- Apparel and Textile Marketing Management
- Consumer Economics
- Consumer Services
- Fabric and Fashion Specialist
- Family and Consumer Sciences
- Family Resource Management Studies
- Human Sciences Communication
- Retail Management and Merchandising
Fabric designers create textiles used to make clothes and decorate homes and businesses. Inherent creative or artistic skills can be an asset to those who enter this field. While a degree is not required, applicants who are trained in fabric design will have an advantage. Fabric designers typically work for textile manufacturers.
|Required Education||High school diploma or the equivalent, although college courses in textile design are recommended|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||2% for all types of industrial designers*|
|Median Salary (2016)||$51,995**|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **PayScale.com
Fabric Design Career Info
Training in fabric design can lead to employment in the textile field as fabric designers, stylists, design assistants or CAD operators. Many fabric designers work independently, which requires artistic skills and knowledge of marketing and promotion. Companies that hire fabric designers include furniture manufacturers, bedding and bath suppliers, rug makers and fashion designers. Entry-level fabric design positions, such as design assistant opportunities, are typically filled by job applicants who have portfolios of previous work. Seasoned fabric designers might start their own firms or head creative departments at large companies.
A wide array of salaries exists in this field. For instance, the difference in earnings between newly independent designers and experienced fabric design managers at large corporations can be significant. PayScale.com reported in January 2016 that textile designers earned a median salary of $51,995.
While no education is required to design and sell fabric independently, employers tend to hire those with at least some training and portfolios of work. A fabric design or textile design program helps develop students' artistic skills, computer design knowledge and business expertise.
Fabric design students learn about color, texture, light and shape as it pertains to fabric and design. Extensive studio work with paint, ink, fabric and computers is common in fabric design programs.
Academic programs in fabric design occur at the certificate, associate's, bachelor's and master's levels. Certificate and associate's degree programs typically take two years or less to complete and provide students with the basic skills required for entry-level positions in the fabric design field. Bachelor's degree programs cover the topic of printmaking in-depth, and students learn more about fabric weaving. Master's degree programs involve research and can sometimes be combined with bachelor's degree programs; this combination can result in students in earning their master's degrees in five years instead of six.
Fabric design is a wide and varied field in terms of both salaries and educational backgrounds. You can start out as an independent designer with no degree at all, or earn a master's; regardless of education, creativity and artistic talent are essential to success in this sector. If you're hoping to find a design job with a company, know that they tend to select people who have some education or training as well as a portfolio of their own creative work.