Shoe Designer: Career and Salary Facts

Explore the career requirements for shoe designers. Get the facts about education requirements, salary, and potential job growth 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 Shoe Designer?

Shoe designers keep up to date with marketing and fashion trends while creating new shoe designs to put on the market. They also incorporate new materials as they are created and available for footwear. They typically begin by sketching original designs and then selecting the required materials. Shoe designers oversee the production process to make sure the finished product is exactly as they envisioned. Sometimes these designers may work on an entire collection or collaborate with a team of fashion designers for a particular fashion show. Many shoe designers market their products to various businesses or directly to consumers. See the table below for some quick career facts on shoe designers.

Degree Required Associate's or bachelor's
Education Field of Study Fashion design, fashion merchandising or similar fields
Key Skills A good sense of fabric, style, structure and business
Key Responsibilities Research market trends and styles, work with textiles, sketch designs and oversee prototype productions
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

What Would I Do as a Shoe Designer?

Footwear designers help create and produce different styles of boots and shoes. Like fashion designers, shoe designers must have a great sense of fabric, color, style and structure. As a shoe designer, you will likely research market trends and styles, deal with textile and material manufacturers, sketch designs, and oversee the production of prototypes. If you are interested in pursuing a shoe design career, you may wish to also have a merchandising, marketing or business degree as well. A background in business can prepare you to sell your shoes at the wholesale or retail level.

What Education Would I Need?

Many fashion designers have at least an associate's or a bachelor's degree in fashion design, fashion merchandising or a similar field. Such programs often include courses in fashion history, textiles, pattern making, design studies and drawing. Some programs might feature specific courses related to accessories and shoe design.

What are Some Useful Traits for This Field?

If you are looking to become a shoe designer, you should have an appreciation of beauty, an eye for color and detail, and a sense of balance and proportion. Despite the widespread use of computers, the ability to pick up a pencil or pen and quickly sketch out a new shoe design is a useful trait. While you may never be required to make a shoe with your own hands, pattern making and sewing skills will probably help you in the profession.

Career and Advancement Prospects

Shoe designers work for small boutiques or large retail outlets. You may begin your career by completing an internship or work study program while still in college. You might also begin in an entry-level position as an assistant a design firm. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you might also enter student or amateur competitions to introduce your designs to potential employers (www.bls.gov).

What Kind of Salary Could I Earn?

In May of 2015, the median salary for fashion designers, including shoe designers, was $63,670, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). In addition, a 3% increase in employment of fashion designers was predicted between the years of 2014 to 2024.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Some related careers that require a bachelor's degree include art directors, industrial designers and graphic designers. Art directors are responsible for creating and maintaining a desired visual style for a magazine, movie or other form of media. Industrial designers come up with the ideas for many products that consumers use every day. Graphic designers typically use computer software to produce visual designs for a variety of things, including magazines and marketing materials.

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