Both associate's and bachelor's degree programs in accessory design cover fashion design methods and clothing and accessory materials. General education courses are included in both programs as well, though they're often more extensive at the bachelor's level. Bachelor's programs may include internship opportunities with fashion design agencies or retailers.
Admission to either of these undergraduate programs may require submission of a portfolio. Some bachelor's programs only admit students who already hold an associate's degree.
Associate's Degree Programs in Accessory Design
Associate's degree programs in accessory design provide training in the design and construction of jewelry, handbags, belts and hats, as well as shoes and other footwear. Students learn about fashion trends and the materials used in construction. Many programs also provide students with opportunities to produce items of their own design.
Associate's degree programs in accessory design that include a focus on shoes may require students to complete general education courses in business, marketing, English, mathematics and communications. The business courses may provide students with the background necessary to become managers of shoe stores or other retail locations and to market their shoe designs.
Associate's degree programs in accessory and shoe design typically take two years to complete. Courses might include:
- Leather manipulation
- Footwear design
- Footwear construction
- Boot design
- Fashion trends
- Fashion industry practices
Bachelor of Fine Arts Programs in Accessory Design
A Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree in accessory design provides advanced technical training in creating and producing accessories, including footwear. In addition to design and construction techniques, students also study the evolution of design or industry trends. Many programs in fashion, accessory and shoe design offered at the bachelor's degree level also require students to complete some sort of internship or work study program at a retail location or design house.
Bachelor's degree programs are usually designed to be completed in four years. Students in a shoe design BFA program may choose from a wide variety of course options. Courses often include:
- Athletic footwear design
- Design for costume or theater
- Computer-aided drawing
- Non-traditional footwear
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Employment and salary information for shoe designers is difficult to come by. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) compiles information on the related position of fashion designer. As of May 2019, fashion designers earned a median annual wage of $73,790. The BLS predicts a job increase of 1% during the decade from 2018-2028, and competition in the fashion design market should be keen.
Although not an industry requirement, continuing education is a good way to keep on top of current trends in the fashion market. Those interested in being self-employed might consider taking business and marketing courses. Master's degrees in the field of fashion tend to fall into the categories of fashion design, fashion merchandising or marketing. These graduate degree programs are ideal for students interested in entering the business side of the fashion industry.
Programs in accessory design are offered by several art and fashion design institutes at the associate's and bachelor's degree levels. These programs can include coursework on footwear design and construction.