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Fabric Design Career Info and Education Requirements

Fabric designers create textiles used to make clothes and decorate homes and businesses. Inherent creative or artistic skills can be an asset to those who enter this field. Fabric designers typically work for textile manufacturers.

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Fabric Design Career Info

Training in fabric design can lead to employment in the textile field as fabric designers, stylists, design assistants or CAD operators. Many fabric designers work independently, which requires artistic skills and knowledge of marketing and promotion. Companies that hire fabric designers include furniture manufacturers, bedding and bath suppliers, rug makers and fashion designers. Entry-level fabric design positions, such as design assistant opportunities, are typically filled by job applicants who have portfolios of previous work. Seasoned fabric designers might start their own firms or head creative departments at large companies.

A wide array of salaries exists in this field. For instance, the difference in earnings between newly independent designers and experienced fabric design managers at large corporations can be significant. According to North Carolina State University's Textile Career Services, fabric designers with bachelor's degrees earned an average annual salary of $39,700 in 2009 (www.ncsu.edu).

Education Requirements

While no education is required to design and sell fabric independently, employers tend to hire those with at least some training and portfolios of work. A fabric design or textile design program helps develop students' artistic skills, computer design knowledge and business expertise.

Fabric design students learn about color, texture, light and shape as it pertains to fabric and design. Extensive studio work with paint, ink, fabric and computers is common in fabric design programs.

Academic programs in fabric design occur at the certificate, associate's, bachelor's and master's levels. Certificate and associate's degree programs typically take two years or less to complete and provide students with the basic skills required for entry-level positions in the fabric design field. Bachelor's degree programs cover the topic of printmaking in-depth, and students learn more about fabric weaving. Master's degree programs involve research and can sometimes be combined with bachelor's degree programs; this combination can result in students in earning their master's degrees in five years instead of six.

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