How to Become a Fashion Designer
Fashion Designer Careers & Degrees

A fashion designer brings together ideas for clothing, accessories and footwear.

Using their own creativity, along with a knowledge of current trends, a fashion designer will come up with a range of clothing or other accessories, which may then be put into production by a fashion label.

Working in the fashion industry can be a glamourous job, but also a demanding one.

Entry into the fashion industry can be very competitive.

The most important thing you will need to be successful in this industry is a passion for fashion.

If you obsess over fashion magazines and love to make clothes for your friends, then you are probably on the right track.

You’ll also need a good knowledge of design, be a creative personality, have good drawing skills, and be focused on achieving your goals.

Education Requirements to Become a Fashion Designer

There are no formal educational requirements to become a fashion designer.

While there are some big names in fashion that have no formal training, most have some kind of degree in textiles, fine art, design, or fashion.

There are courses at college which will allow you to specialize in fashion and design.

There are also specialist fashion schools, as well as courses at community college available.

If you’re still in high school, the best approach is to take art and design classes.

You might like to get a part time job in the fashion industry, or do some work experience if the opportunity arises.

You could also take short courses in fashion, design, and sewing on your school holidays.

The Internet provides many avenues to sell you own work, without the high costs of producing a full label.

Perhaps you like to make clothes in your spare time, or screen print t-shirts.

This is a great way to gain experience while you are studying or waiting for your break in the fashion industry.

Fashion Designer Job Description

Creating new fashion in only part of a role of a fashion designer.

They also need to keep on top of current trends.

Seeing other shows, networking with other designers, and more recently keeping an eye on fashion blogs, is all just a part of a normal day.

Many in the field spend just as much time networking and marketing as they do designing.

There are many events and functions to attend.

Here are some of the tasks a fashion designer could find themselves completing:

  • Researching trends and styles
  • Creating sketches and designs
  • Selecting fabrics
  • Putting together samples
  • Attending fashion shows
  • Marketing and promotional tasks

Fashion Designer Salary and Career Path

Fashion design is a competitive field.

To become a fashion designer, you’re going to need to start from the bottom.

This means taking an entry level job within a fashion design firm.

While many people get jobs as design assistants, as there are many more applicants than jobs, you may also have to take a role that is not linked with design.

You might be making coffee or answering phones.

You might be an assistant to a designer or other person in the company.

After some hard work, you will get a promotion.

Keep working on your portfolio, and it will happen.

The field of fashion you are in will dictate how easy it is to find employment.

For instance, if you are designing running shoes it’s going to be easier to get a start that if you want to design high end fashion.

After a few years working as a design assistant, you may be able to get a promotion to an associate designer, and then to a fashion director.

Many fashion designers start their own labels after they have some experience behind them.

Others go on to work in other areas in the field, such as textile design, or within marketing and promotions.

The median wage for a fashion designer is $60,000.

When you first start out in the industry, you can expect to earn around $40,000 in an entry level role.

The highest 10% in the industry take home a six figure salary.

If you are interested in design and love fashion, working in this industry can be very rewarding.

Although you’ll need to work hard to become a fashion designer, working in the glamorous world of fashion can also be a lot of fun.

There is a good salary available for those with a few years experience, as well as the opportunity to work for yourself later on.

The below information is based on the 2019 BLS national averages.
  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Maryland- NA -
New Hampshire$81,280
New Jersey$71,780
New Mexico$73,200
New York$92,860
North Carolina$71,900
Ohio- NA -
Rhode Island$65,880
South Carolina- NA -
Vermont- NA -

The top earning state in the field is California, where the average salary is $93,870.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

California - $93,870
New York - $92,860
New Hampshire - $81,280
Oregon - $80,220
Massachusetts - $80,080
* Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Fashion Designers, OCC Code 27-1022, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

QuestionWhat does a fashion designer do?

In a nutshell, fashion designers create men’s, children’s, and women’s apparel.

Those include all sorts of clothes and accessories – maternity wear, eyewear, footwear, high fashion pieces, underwear, outerwear, formalwear, basically, anything you can put on yourself.

Accessory designers specialize in creating accessories (scarves, belts, jewelry, hats, handbags…).

The fashion industry has a lot of different levels and designers can be anywhere between well-known couturiers and fashion stylists that make minor changes to the clothes.

Generally, a fashion designer controls each part of the designing process.

Starting from creating the concept and ending with introducing the final product to the world.

The designers that work for small companies or themselves take care even of the sewing process.

While large fashion houses have the opportunity to hire professional sewers, pattern-makers, and tailors.

QuestionHow much do fashion designers make?

According to BLS, the average annual salary of clothing designers is about $74.000.

The incomes can be as low as $32.000 or as high as $127.000 (and above).

Fashion designers are needed in a variety of industries, not just in high fashion.

Theatre and dance companies, retailers, and apparel companies, for example, also hire designers.

The salary certainly does depend on the industry that you decide to work in.

Surprisingly, clothes designers earn the most in the motion picture industry (around $100.000 per year).

QuestionHow much does it cost to become a fashion designer?

You might be going for an associate’s, a bachelor’s or even a master’s degree and become a pattern maker, fashion designer, textile designer, and so on.

A year in fashion school will cost you anywhere between $4.000 and $28.000.

A graduate degree in fashion costs a little more ($8.000-$30.000 per year).

The necessary books and materials can cost up to $2.500, while a commercial-grade sewing machine can cost you an additional $2.000 or even more (you can find great cheaper options available on the market nowadays).

QuestionWhat is the demand for fashion designers?

A slower than average job growth is projected for the fashion designer market.

Over the next few years, the annual increase has been around 6% and never changed a lot.

Bear in mind, that one-fourth of fashion designers are self-employed.

The competition in the industry will continue to grow.

The use of technologies is becoming more and more popular in fashion design.

In case you manage to learn more about the ‘high-tech’ way of textile and material production, your services will be in high demand.

QuestionHow long does it take to become a fashion designer?

It will take you between 2 and 4 years to acquire a degree in fashion design.

However, many companies in the industry value practical knowledge and experience much more than a degree.

A lot of fashion designers are able to gain their experience through internships.

You can try becoming an assistant of a practicing fashion designer to get an idea of how the industry works.

The length of the training will depend on the employer.

It might take you a few months or a couple of years.

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