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Shoe Designer: Job Duties, Occupational Outlook, and Education Requirements

Research what it takes to become a shoe designer. Learn about degree requirements, employment outlook and salary to find out if this is the career for you.

What is a Shoe Designer?

A professional shoe designer knows they have quite a bit of homework. Like any designer, they have to research the market to keep up with fashion trends and come up with appealing designs. They also need advanced knowledge of different types of fabrics and materials and have an understanding of what would work best for their design. When coming up with a design, they often strive to create or maintain a theme in their work. Many designs are created on CADD programs and then presented to other designers for their input before a prototype is made. The designer often oversees the production of prototypes to ensure quality. Once a prototype is done it is then taken to shows. Learn about the common education and job outlook for shoe designers.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Fashion design
Key Skills Artistic ability, creativity, attention to detail, communication
Job Growth (2018-2028)* 1% (for all fashion designers)
Median Salary (2018)* $72,720 (for all fashion designers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Shoe Design

Shoe designers are fashion designers who develop original footwear for an independent label or a company. You must have a good understanding of texture, color and fashion while developing creative new concepts. You also need an extensive knowledge of shoe construction materials, the ability to identify attractive patterns through fashion trend analysis and an understanding of the fundamentals of footwear construction. Travel is also a regular activity, since designers attend numerous trade shows in order to analyze trends and find new ideas. Computer skills and artistic abilities may also help you, since you may draft illustrations and technical drawings for new concepts and then present your designs to production teams.

Occupational Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth in the fashion design industry is projected to grow one percent during the 2018-2028 decade (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported that New York and California had the highest number of fashion designers per capita in 2018. Shoe designers are likely to face significant competition for available jobs, with the best opportunities for fashion designers expected to be found in wholesale firms that sell clothing in department stores. As of May 2018, the BLS reported that the middle half of fashion designers earned between $50,710 and $100,780.

Education Requirements

If you are interested in footwear design, you could pursue an associate's or a bachelor's degree in design or another artistic field. You might also pursue training in fashion merchandising, marketing or business in order to acquire the skills needed to promote and sell your products. Courses in footwear design are often included as part of the curricula in fashion design programs, and some design schools may offer a separate path of study. Your class topics may include creative design and footwear pattern making, as well as business courses to review industry practices and marketing strategies. You may also take a study of the history of footwear. Most programs will also teach you to use computer-aided design software. Internships are common and provide students with practical experience.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Fashion designers, who share many of the same responsibilities as shoe designers, may find careers designing clothing, accessories and costumes. Beyond clothing, jewelers, precious stone and metal workers design and create jewelry. Floral designers, or florists, design pleasing arrangements using fresh, dried or artificial flowers. Graphic designers are responsible for creating artistic layouts for printed or digital media. All of these types of designers need to know what the market demands and how to utilize special materials to create aesthetically pleasing designs for clients.