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What Are My Career Options in Textile Design?

The field of textile design encompasses a variety of career opportunities, since cloth is used in goods people use every day, such as clothing, bath towels, bed linens and other essential products. You can become a textile designer, or you might pursue a related career in fashion design or patternmaking. Keep reading to learn about these career options.

Textile Design Training and Career Overview

There are many career options in the field of textile design and related careers. Most require a college degree or vocational training, but some positions allow for on-the-job training. Here is a look at the job duties for several career options in textile design, along with education and training requirements:

Important Facts About Career Options in Textile Design

Textile Designer Fashion Designer Pattern Maker
Median Salary (2019) $52,698 $64,482 $60,335
On-the-Job Training Internships available Internships available Internships available
Key Skills Computer competency; clear communication; creativity; visualization Artistic ability; creativity; good judgment and decision making; computer competency Attention to detail; manual dexterity; computer competency; clear communication
Similar Occupations Design architects; industrial designers; architectural designers Graphic designers; interior designers; architects Architectural designers; civil engineers; fashion designers

Source: PayScale.com

Textile Designer

Textile designers develop designs for apparel, interior fabrics and a variety of other materials. In this profession, you might specialize in print, embroidery, knit or another fabric trend. You could also specialize in surface design and create decorative patterns for textiles as well as non-fabric materials, such as dinnerware, wallpaper and wrapping paper. In a textile design career, you might work for a textile manufacturer, interior or fashion design firm, architectural firm or the textile department of a museum. You could also work as a freelance textile designer, developing motifs for fabrics on a contract basis.

To become a textile designer, you may earn an undergraduate degree in textile design or technology. These programs teach you the fundamentals of texture, color and shape as well as the technical aspects of textile design. You may take courses in materials, knit and weave technology, Jacquard design and digital design. You can further your education by pursuing a master's degree in textiles. Such programs may qualify you for advanced positions in textile design by providing you with specialized instruction in concentrations like historic textiles or textile science.

Fashion Designer

As a fashion designer, you can design garments and create apparel to be sold in boutiques or department stores. You draw and cut patterns, work with fabric to create sample garments and confer with clients or employers to come up with final products. You may also use models to showcase your work to potential buyers. You may use computer-aided design (CAD) software to create designs. Knowledge of different materials is essential in this profession, since you are responsible for determining which fabrics work best with your designs.

Generally, an associate's or bachelor's degree in fashion design provides you with the knowledge and training necessary to get your foot in the fashion world. These programs introduce you to topics like fabrics, colors, CAD software, pattern making and textiles. You might also benefit from gaining education in marketing and business, particularly if you want to run your own business or sell your work to potential buyers.

Pattern Maker

If you're interested in creating patterns out of fabrics used to make clothing, a career as a pattern maker might be for you. Working with designers, you use computer software and sample garments to create patterns that ultimately become articles of clothing. Knowledge of materials and the textile industry is important because you need to know how much fabric is required for each pattern that you create. You'll also need to size and shape materials to fit your pattern, as well as test your patterns by creating samples.

Pattern makers may enter the profession with only high school diplomas and related work experience. Many learn their skills on the job, though you might also look into vocational or community college programs that help you gain knowledge in textile design. Additionally, some high schools offer vocational programs geared toward aspiring clothing design professionals.

Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide job outlook information for textile designers, however, it does report predictions for related careers (www.bls.gov). Employment of fashion designers was expected to grow by about 3% between 2016 and 2026, according to the BLS, due to clothing manufacturing jobs moving overseas.