Fashion Designer: Educational Requirements for a Design Career in Fashion
Those with a passion for fashion and a flair for style may consider a career in fashion design. Fashion designers use their creative and technical skills to create varieties of clothing and accessories. Along with sketching and constructing original products, designers constantly study the industry to stay informed of current trends and to be able to forecast future styles.
Fashion Designer Educational Requirements
Fashion designers are generally required to hold undergraduate degrees in fashion design. Those who intend on owning their own design firms or shops may benefit from earning a combined degree in fashion design and marketing or another business-related subject. Aspiring fashion designers seeking degree programs may consult with the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, the nationally recognized accrediting organization for design schools.
Associate's degree programs in fashion design are 2-year programs that equip students with fundamental, technical design skills, such as tailoring, sewing and basic fashion theories. Bachelor's degree programs generally last four years and tend to offer more extensive career training, combining technical coursework with artistic and conceptual instruction. Courses may include fashion drawing, 3-D design, color theory, textiles, computer-aided design, fashion business and portfolio presentation.
Hands-on training and industry exposure are essential for obtaining employment in fashion design. Aspiring fashion designer may gain such experience through internship programs, which are often required for graduation from bachelor's degree programs. Internships are available at design firms and retail businesses, and interns may be compensated for their work or provided with college credit. These programs allow interns to apply their fashion knowledge and skills and contribute to the company's design efforts under the guidance of experienced designers and executives.
Along with formal training, fashion designers must have a strong capacity for creativity, including a knack for color, textile detail and style. Drawing and computer drafting skills are necessary for fashion sketching, and knowledge of sewing and tailoring are required for explaining the design process to manufacturers. Employers also tend to prefer fashion designers with retail or sales experience, which apply to the marketing aspect of the occupation. Similarly, designers are constantly working with various industry professionals, so strong communication and collaboration skills are essential.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Little or no job growth was predicted for fashion designers by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) from 2010-2020. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for these professionals in 2012 was $62,860.
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