Clothing Designer: Career Profile, Occupational Outlook, and Education Prerequisites

Explore the career requirements for clothing designers. Get the facts about degree requirements, salary and employment outlook to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Fashion Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Clothing Designer?

Aside from a natural artistic ability and a knack for fashion, prospective clothing designers often need an undergraduate degree in fashion design or a related major. Most clothing or fashion designers choose a theme for their work. When creating this theme and any new clothing designs they usually spend quit a bit of time studying the fashion market as well as what fabrics are available. Professionals often use CAD programs to designing clothing. Once a design is created, it is often up to the creator to oversee its final production and to take it to shows. Learn more about this field in the table below.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Fashion design
Key Skills Creativity, time management, attention to detail, decision-making
Job Growth (2014-2024) 3% (for all fashion designers)*
Median Salary (2015) $63,670 (for all fashion designers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Duties of a Clothing Designer

As a clothing designer, you produce items of clothing from initial conception though prototype production to construction of the final piece. The design process varies but is likely to occur as a sequence of steps, including consulting with clients, sales reps or production managers about popular styles and trends, sketching and pattern drawing, selecting fabric and materials, cutting, sewing and assembling clothing, adjusting and altering garments, and finally, presenting samples at sales meetings or fashion shows. You could generalize across multiple demographics or specialize in clothing for such demographic groups as children, youths, adults, boys, girls, men or women.

Career Options

Clothing and piece goods manufacturers, wholesalers and specialty designers are your leading employment prospects. You could also try to be an independent, self-employed designer. Excluding the self-employed, 2015 estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed 19,040 people were employed as designers in the United States (www.bls.gov). Designers tend to be concentrated in Los Angeles and New York. The field is very competitive, and you may have to start out as a pattern maker or sketching assistant.

From 2014-2024, employment was projected to increase 3%. Continued demand of everyday wear clothing should provide job opportunities. The BLS reported that fashion designers earned a median annual salary of $63,670 as of May 2015.

Education or Training Requirements

If your high school offers fashion design classes, you can start developing the skills you'll need before you graduate. Art courses that emphasize drawing and drafting are acceptable alternatives if fashion design courses aren't available. Either will enable you to build a portfolio, which is an admission requirement at most college programs.

According to the BLS, you will likely need a 4-year bachelor's degree to become a clothing designer. Programs explore design theory and provide hands-on engagement with the design process, often through an internship. Bachelor's programs also address merchandising, production techniques and art history.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you like designing, but don't think fashion is right for you, there are a number of related careers that need designers. In fact, almost every industry has a need for industrial designers. These designers perform similar tasks as fashion designers but for other merchandise such as cars, home appliances and toys. Florist or floral designers are responsible for designing and arranging fresh, dried and artificial flowers in aesthetically appealing ways. Graphic designers are responsible for creating enticing layouts for printed materials.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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