Find An Accredited Online School

Explore the World of Fashion Design and How to Make it Your Career

If you love fashion, you might be excited to learn that there are countless positions within the industry that could be the right fit for you. From designing custom pieces for your local area boutique to using computer software to edit mass-produced lines from major brands, fashion designers certainly have exciting careers.

Along with becoming a designer, the fashion industry offers related positions that may be the perfect fit for fashion graduates.

Discover more about what fashion designers do, how to become a fashion designer, what the average salaries are in the industry, what kind of job growth is predicted, what it takes to succeed and what kind of careers are similar.

Quick Facts: Fine Arts Industry
Median Pay:   $54,833 per year | $26 per hour
Entry-Level Education:   High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience:   None
Number of Jobs, 2014:   171,000

Fine Arts Occupations:

  • Fine artists, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators$43,890
  • Artists and related workers, all other$58,250
  • Commercial and industrial designers$64,620
  • Fashion designers$64,030
  • Interior designers$48,400
  • Set and exhibit designers$49,810

Understanding What Fashion Designers Do

Before setting your heart on this single career choice, aspiring fashion designers should fully understand what kind of tasks this position might entail.

On an average workday, a designer might browse online to take a look at new trends in fashion, theme their newest collection, sketch out some ideas for a future project, use software imaging programs to streamline sketches and email ideas to peers, visit a factory to check on production, sample fabrics and pick the best option for a new product or meet with buyers to promote their line.

From that variety of tasks, it should be clear that creating may only be a portion of the daily work. Marketing, meeting and communicating with others also takes up part of the day for many designers in the fashion industry.

Fashion designers can also specialize in women's apparel, men's clothing, gowns, swimwear, athletic gear or even footwear depending on their area of interest.

Where Fashion Designers Can Find Work

One of the great things about becoming a designer is that there are a variety of different environments where you can choose to work. Roughly one-quarter of American fashion designers are self-employed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While being self-employed may not always be the most financially secure option for designers, it does offer a level of independence and creative freedom that you may greatly appreciate.

However, there are also plenty of paid, full-time positions available for fashion designers. Some of the most common places that designers might work in the fashion industry include apparel manufacturing companies, large retail corporations and even fashion magazines and their online blogs, which often feature DIY tutorials or fashion advice for readers.

Education Prerequisites For Fashion Designers

There are certainly a few fashion designers who are able to become wildly successful without a college degree or any formal training, but those examples are few and far between.

For the most part, fashion designers will need to have a bachelor's degree in fashion merchandising or design in order to be taken seriously by potential employers. Over the course of the four-year fashion design bachelor's degree, you will learn the ins and outs of the fashion industry, and just a few of the courses that you might take could include draping techniques, color therapy, computer drafting software for fashion, drawing, sewing and understanding types of textiles.

Whenever possible, it is recommended that you seek out a degree in fashion that is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. Some of these accredited schools offer online programs to students, which can save valuable time and allow you to make your career goals in fashion a priority regardless of your busy schedule.

Characteristics of Successful Fashion Designers

Having a degree is vital if you want to become a designer in the fashion industry, but that is not the only factor in your success. The best fashion designers create fabulous portfolios that reflect their best work, and they update these portfolios often in order to stay relevant in the changing world of the fashion industry.

Many of the most successful fashion designers are also excellent communicators, which is necessary when discussing ideas with clients and ensuring that buyers end up with the apparel they truly wanted. Finally, fashion designers should be focused, great at managing their time, creative and willing to take criticism when it is merited.

Average Salary For Fashion Designers

According to a chart created by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest-paying career within the fashion industry is that of designer. As of 2012, the median salary for fashion designers was $62,860 annually, but that number can fluctuate significantly depending on a number of factors.

Working with a large manufacturing company may help you enjoy job security, but it is unlikely that you will ever raise to the ranks of million-dollar salaries. Independent designers with reputations in the media, however, have both career volatility and the potential for incredible profits.

Job Outlook for the Fashion Industry as a Whole

Discerning more about the future of the fashion industry is important for anyone who is serious about becoming a designer. This field is incredibly competitive, and it is important that you have realistic expectations of success as you earn your bachelor's degree in fashion.

According to recent data from the BLS, the predicted job growth for fashion designers in the United States is actually negative three percent, or a decrease in the number of jobs by roughly 700. While that might be discouraging, it still means that every year in America, over 22,00 fashion designers will be employed. With drive, focus and determination, there is no reason that you couldn't be one of them.

Similar Jobs Within the Same Field

Working as a designer is just one of many options in the industry, and any aspiring fashion designers might find it interesting to see related careers. Some of the similar positions include that of floral designer, pattern maker, retail store manager, fashion buyer, clothing brand representative, visual merchandiser for a fashion retail store, design assistant or fashion writer.

While there are many different types of careers in fashion, designers often receive the most respect and attention. If this is your dream job, earning a bachelor's degree in fashion design can be the perfect place to start.