Fashion Designer Education Requirements and Career Information

Fashion designers require some degree of formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and career outlook to decide if this career is right for you.

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Fashion designers create different types of clothing, footwear, and accessories based on current fashion trends and their own design style. An associate's degree or bachelor's degree may be required.

Essential Information

Fashion designers are responsible for the styles of dress we see around us on a daily basis. They create the suits, dresses, shirts, shoes and accessories worn by millions of people each year. Most schools offer both 2- and 4-year degree programs in fashion design that typically include internship opportunities with clothing companies and professional designers. Getting into this field also requires creativity and an understanding of current styles.

Required Education Associate's or bachelor's degree
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 3%
Average Salary (2015)* $73,180

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements for Fashion Designers

In order to work in the fashion industry, prospective designers must complete an Associate of Science or Bachelor of Arts Degree in fashion design. Students enrolled in either of these programs are trained in fashion illustration, pattern drafting, draping, clothing construction, design, fashion history and production techniques. In addition to the technical and creative aspects of fashion design, the majority of these programs also include courses in marketing, accounting and business. These courses are likely to include presentation, fashion advertising, inventory control and maintenance and trend forecasting.

Internships and Professional Training

Fashion designers are not only trained in a classroom setting, but through internships and other professional environments. Most undergraduate programs in fashion design will include opportunities for students to complete course credits by working at design firms, manufacturing firms, retail stores or alongside stylists and tailors. These opportunities allow students to see first-hand how their work affects the marketplace and to gain sales and marketing experience.

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Career Information

Job Duties

Fashion designers conceptualize, design and manufacture apparel for men, women and children. They develop ideas into final products by making sketches of their ideas, selecting fabric, colors and patterns that work together in both a creative and functional way. After researching current fashion trends and forecasting future trends, designers then visit manufacturers and trade shows to select fabrics and patterns and begin work on their designs. A prototype of the garments is created and then adjusted until it ultimately resembles the designer's original concept and design. Final samples are then manufactured and presented to retail outlets. Fashion designers are subject to tight deadlines and long work hours, and they need to be able to work with suppliers, manufacturers and retailers.

Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the hunt for work in the fashion industry is highly competitive, and there will be a three percent increase in the number of employment opportunities for fashion designers from 2014 to 2024. The average wage for fashion designers was $73,180 per year as of May 2015.

Many schools offer 2- and 4-year degree programs in fashion design; coursework can include design, pattern drafting, draping, clothing construction, and production techniques. Aspiring fashion designers may also complete an internship or professional training.

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