Fashion Designer Education Requirements and Career Information

Sep 15, 2019

Majoring in fashion design is typically the first step to becoming a fashion designer. Learn more about fashion designer education requirements and how to begin your career in the field.

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How to Be a Fashion Designer

In order to become a fashion designer, students must pursue formal education and experience in the field. All of this training helps prepare aspiring designers to create their own fashion pieces and market their work. Explore each step to becoming a fashion designer in more detail below.

Step 1: Fashion Designer Education Requirements

Fashion designers typically need at least a bachelor's degree. Majoring in fashion design is the most popular option for aspiring fashion designers, but students may also major in areas like fashion merchandising or fashion marketing. Most of these degree programs are on-campus programs, due to the hands-on nature of the field, but students may be able to find some online courses, such as online merchandising courses.

Typically, a degree in fashion design is offered as a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree, while a degree in fashion merchandising is usually a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree. A degree in fashion design focuses more on the design process, while one in fashion merchandising focuses more on the business side of fashion. Many of these degree programs include internships for hands-on learning and/or help students begin to create their professional portfolio. Students in traditional fashion design programs may take courses in subjects like:

  • Drawing
  • Fabrics
  • Fashion technologies
  • Visuals
  • Apparel construction

Step 2: Hands-On Experience

Fashion designers usually need some experience in the fashion industry to help them break into the field. As mentioned, this experience may take place in the form of an internship during an undergraduate program, or graduates may take on an entry-level position in the field. Fashion designers may work positions, such as assistant designers or fashion buyers, before having the opportunity to create and market their own designs.

Step 3: Other Requirements

Although they are not necessarily formal requirements, it is important for aspiring fashion designers to be creative and have some artistic skills to create unique fashion designs. These designers also need to further develop their communication and decision-making skills in order to work well with design teams on their projects. It is also becoming more and more necessary for fashion designers to have computer skills with computer-aided design (CAD) programs and other editing programs.

Step 4: Advancement

Advancement in the field of fashion design typically comes with experience and reputation, but designers may also choose to pursue an advanced degree in the field. Students may choose to pursue a Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Fashion/Fashion Design or even a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Apparel Design. These programs typically include advanced coursework in the field, allowing students to further develop their portfolio, and require a thesis, dissertation, or final project.

Fashion Designer Career Overview

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Experience
Annual Median Salary (2018)* $72,720
Estimated Job Growth (2018-2028)* 1% (Little or no change)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Fashion designers may create designs, choose materials, and then make various pieces of clothing, accessories, or even footwear. They may sketch their designs by hand or use CAD programs to make their ideas come to life. Often their designs may follow current fashion trends or try and predict new trends and may follow a specific theme. Other job duties for fashion designers may include:

  • Choosing fabrics, styles, and colors for pieces
  • Displaying their work at fashion shows
  • Marketing designs
  • Overseeing design teams
  • Ensuring the proper production of pieces
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