What’s the Best Degree Path to Becoming a Fashion Designer?

Choosing a program of study is one of the most important decisions college students can make. When you decide to major in a subject like art and design, you’re preparing yourself for a creative and possibly lucrative career, like that of a fashion designer. Fashion designer is the second highest paying job for art and design majors, and experienced professionals in this occupation earn a median annual salary of $74,300 to do something they love. To get started in this career, you will first need a college education.

Earning an Education Fit for a Fashion Designer

For some artistic jobs, earning any arts degree will help you reach your career goal. However, fashion designers need specialized knowledge in addition to artistic skills. For example, fashion designers are responsible for choosing the fabric to be used for a given item of clothing, so it’s essential that they develop a thorough background knowledge of textiles. They must be able to present their ideas visually, first in sketch form and later with the aid of computers. To develop this proficiency, aspiring fashion designers will need to take courses in art and computer-aided design (CAD). The best way for students to gain the education they need is by majoring in fashion design or fashion merchandising, preferably at one of the 300 schools accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. To gain acceptance into such a program, you may have to prove yourself first, by succeeding at basic art and design courses and presenting sketches that illustrate your talents, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported.

Building Skills and a Portfolio

Fashion design is a competitive industry. To achieve your goal of becoming a fashion designer, you must first work on building your professional portfolio. This compilation should include all of your best design sketches. Everything in your portfolio should convey your best style ideas and should be drawn to the best of your ability. Potential employers will likely consider your portfolio as the primary factor in whether or not they choose to hire you. Your portfolio matters even more than your résumé. You should begin building your portfolio during your college education and continue adding to it throughout your career. Understanding how clothing is manufactured can also win you points with a potential employer. Often, this knowledge comes from internship experience or entry-level work in the field, like experience as an assistant designer. To further impress employers, you can prove your creativity and talent by competing in student and amateur contests, according to the BLS.

Though fashion design may be a difficult field to get into, the joy of developing designs and ultimately seeing your designs become real clothing articles, accessories and shoes is worth the hard work it takes to get into the industry. By earning your degree and taking every opportunity to create a stunning portfolio, you can prepare for success as a fashion designer.

Brenda Rufener

Julie McCaulley

Carrie Sealey-Morris