Fashion Design is a fascinating, exciting field that changes rapidly and allows people to move into the forefront of creativity. Add this to the fact that it offers the highest potential life earnings for an associate level degree (See: The Lifetime Earnings of College Degrees) and it’s easy to see why it’s becoming such a popular field.

If you have an eye for design and a love for all the latest fashion trends, then a career in fashion design could be exactly what you’re looking for. It’s a career that allows you to work for leading brands, if you have the talent, or start your own line.

However, it’s not just designing clothes that you’ll have to think about. Marketing, Sales, and business development are a huge aspect of the job and preference is given to employees that have a mix of fashion and business skills.

Career Profile: Fashion Designer

Education and Training

To become a fashion designer with a large brand, it’s recommended to hold at least an associate-level degree. Here you’ll spend two years learning the fundamentals; technical design skills, such as tailoring, sewing, and basic fashion theories.

However, those with associate level degrees are facing increasing competition from those with bachelor level degree’s, so it’s worth considering staying to complete the higher level of education. In these four-year programs, you’ll learn all the fundamentals in the associate level, but you’ll also focus on fashion drawing, 3-D design, color theory, textiles, computer-aided design, fashion business and portfolio presentation.

Business is becoming an ever increasingly desirable skill for potential candidates and it’s important to spend some time honing these skills. This is particularly focussed on retail sales and marketing.

After your degree has been obtained you will need to seek an internship in order to gain hands-on experience. Some universities offer this as part of the final year. If not, however, you will need to organize this yourself. Developing your own portfolio will also be beneficial as well whether you’re applying for jobs, or trying to work with someone else.

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in fashion, these free courses and resources will give you a better insight on what to expect:


Your responsibilities and duties will vary depending on your experience and who you’re working for. They’ll also be rather different if you are setting up shop yourself. However, some of the duties you can expect as a fashion designer include:

  • Design your ideas by hand or use computer-aided design (CAD);
  • Keep up to date with all the latest fashion trends
  • Create ranges
  • Work closely with buyers and forecasters, to develop products to meet a brief
  • Liaising with sales, buying and production
  • Understand design from both a technical perspective to a functional one
  • Source, select and buy fabrics, trims, fastenings, and embellishments
  • Adapt existing designs for mass production
  • Negotiate with customers and suppliers
  • Manage marketing, finance and other business activities (mainly self-employed or senior positions)

Career Paths

According to BLS, the median salary for a fashion designer in 2015 was $63,670 per year. It’s important to note that the forecasted job growth in this sector is 3% between 2014 – and – 2024. This is slower than average which means that there will be a lot of competition for vacancies. However, if your passionate about making a success in this area then that shouldn’t stop you.

Those with formal education in fashion design, excellent portfolios, and industry experience will have the best job prospects. It’s important to note that you’ll need to go the extra mile so start developing your portfolio early.

Career progression is good and those with an eye for spotting trending fashions can find that they climb the career ladder quickly. Business minded individuals have the option of climbing to the top of the ranks with a well-known brand or starting their own company.

It’s important to note that the decline in job growth is due to the fact that a lot of apparel in manufactured internationally. If you can bridge the gap or even offer a competitive home solution, there’s no reason that you can’t turn your idea into a fashion empire. After all, everyone needs clothes!

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