How to Become a Textile Designer in 5 Steps

Research what it takes to become a textile designer. Learn about education requirements, job outlook and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Art degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is A Textile Designer?

Textile designers focus on clothing and apparel. Their objective is to create pleasing, original patterns and designs. These professionals may opt to specialize in areas such as men's formal apparel, children's apparel or women's fashion. Textile designers use graphic design software and may modify or manipulate images in the process of developing a design. The designs are transferred to fabrics and materials. Textile designers are typically required to have a bachelor's degree in graphic design.

Education Required High school diploma; postsecondary certificate or undergraduate degree is optional, but often earned
Key Skills Attention to detail, time management, problem-solving, creativity
Job Growth (2014-2024) -26% (for all fabric and apparel patternmakers)*
Median Salary (2015) $50,405 (for all textile designers)**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

Textile Design

Textile design is the process of creating art on material using techniques such as netting, spinning, knitting, embroidery, felting, painting, digital imagery, drying and weaving, among others. As a textile designer, you explore culture and art in creating 2-dimensional patterns that can be repeated on a variety of products that incorporate textiles. You incorporate color trends, learn about the production and application of textiles and use state-of-the-art industry technology and traditional art tools.

Step 1: Choose a Career Option

As a textile designer you can work in the fashion industry designing fabrics and patterns for clothing, or you can work in interior design creating textiles for everything from chairs to wallpaper. You can also work with other types of clients or merchandising departments to create future fabric groups, or be a color forecaster. You could design textiles for products to be manufactured on a large scale, or you could design smaller-scale art pieces and small batch products.

Step 2: Prepare for College

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2009, formal education is not required, and many workers in the textile industry have only a high school diploma (www.bls.gov). However, many textile designers do choose to pursue postsecondary training in fashion or clothing design.

Step 3: Complete Your Degree

While enrolled in a textile program, such as a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Fiber Science or Master of Fine Arts, you will take a variety of courses in areas such as color theory and apparel production, computer-aided design, textiles and industry economics. Because textiles are an important part of all cultures' art and archaeology, you may be required to take historic costume and cultural history classes. Some programs also offer classes on culturally and socially responsible design.

Step 4: Keep Your Skills Up to Date

You will need to constantly learn more about the profession and be willing to learn new techniques and methods as necessary. You'll want to keep up to date on the latest trends and developments in the textile industry.

Step 5: Learn a Foreign Language

You may need to learn a foreign language. Much of the apparel industry has moved to other counties, according to the BLS in 2011 (www.bls.gov). Education opportunities exist in textile programs in fashion centers such as Madrid and Milan, and some of the classes are taught in multiple languages.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Fashion designers perform some tasks that are similar to the work that textile designers do. They may also work with textile designers during the process of modifying images that will be used on a design. They normally need a bachelor's degree in fashion design or fashion merchandising. Graphic designers also need a bachelor's degree, and use graphic design software to produce visual images that may be used as logos, advertisements or on other printed materials. Like textile designers, they need to understand how the choices of color and shape will appeal to the intended audience. Industrial designers work on the designs of manufactured goods, such as toys, automobiles and appliances. They also need a bachelor's degree.

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