Is Fashion Design the Right Degree for You?

Are you a creative person who enjoys putting together great outfits? This makes you a natural for the field of fashion design. This degree allows you put your style knowledge to work designing and creating clothing for consumers of all types. This is a competitive field that has the potential to be very rewarding for students who are willing to work hard.

Skills Gained from a Fashion Degree
Although you may get a head start on your degree simply by having a great sense of style, you can gain numerous additional fashion skills by pursuing a degree. Some of the core skills learned in the program include:

  • Understanding of different fabrics, textiles, and clothing ornamentation
  • Insight into the fashion industry and current trends
  • Basic business and marketing skills for the fashion industry
  • Clothing design skills
  • Style design skills (such as how to work as a personal stylist)

What a To Expect in a Course
People who get this degree typically attend either a two-year or four-year program. The course is usually one degree offered at a design or art school. Some of the specific classes that students take include:

  • Sewing and tailoring
  • Pattern making
  • Art history with an emphasis on the history of fashion
  • Design technology including computer-aided design
  • Business classes with an emphasis on entrepreneurship
  • Sales and marketing classes

Fashion Design Degrees
The core degree that students get when graduating from a fashion design program is in fashion design. However, there are related degrees that may be obtained from a fashion school as well. For example, there are specific degrees in footwear design and accessory design. There are also degrees for the business side of fashion including merchandising and marketing degrees.

Jobs for Students
Upon graduation, most students use their degrees to get into an entry level position in retail. Others begin to work as assistants to a working fashion designer. Eventually these designers become self-employed as fashion designers. Important things for prospective design students to know about the industry, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, include:

The number of jobs available in this industry is expected to remain steady between 2008 and 2018. Intense competition for fashion careers is expected during this time.

The states with the most jobs designers in the United States are New York or California.

The median annual wage for fashion designers in 2009 was $64,260. The majority of people working in this field are earning between $32,320 and $90,020.

The state of the economy has made it so that a vast number of consumers are interested in the option to purchase affordable clothing that is still stylish and attractive. The majority of jobs for fashion degree students at this time are in this area of the market. Students interested in high-end boutique design may have a tougher time getting a job in today's market.

Fashion Design Schools

Celebrities and famous personalities all clamor to be dressed and styled by the greatest and the best, thus giving way for new and younger designers. Narciso Rodriguez, Monique Lhullier, and Stella McCartney, just to name a few, are all young designers in demand today in the fashion industry.

Another young designer, Nikki Hilton, one of the heiresses to the Hilton hotels and already privileged and famous, opted to study first at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York in order to have a solid background in design. Soon this young designer whose love for bags started going places when other celebrities started appearing at movie premieres and awards shows with her creations. Fashion critics praised her works because of their clean lines and contemporary design.

Education combined with talent form a great building block to a solid design career.

Most fashion designers, in an effort to expand what they know, try to attend art school since courses offered in a fashion design school are also regarded as applied art, similar to interior and graphic design. These design schools offer a curriculum especially created to stimulate the creative and unique sides of their students. Programs usually are intended to challenge the students by incorporating the technical and theoretical elements in fashion design as well as the artistic and sensible approach to creating new and hip clothing.

Fashion design schools do not only groom students to create a great piece of clothing but also teach them the basics, such as correct body measurements, pattern making, clothes making, and even sewing. Some design schools also offer for the following positions: fashion merchandiser, fabrications and trim buyer, fashion illustrator, pattern grader, and textile artist.

5 Career Options for Fashion Design Degree Holders

Society and parents in general tend to be wary towards encouraging people to work in Fashion for good reason. Firstly, they are right about the industry's highly selective employment. They're also right when they say that Fashion is "not what it seems" even though they probably have no idea what they really talking about. But before you decide to throw in the towel and take up accounting courses, or look for a no-brainer 9-5 job, here are a few fashion design careers to consider!

The Popular Path

A fashion designer's job seems to be surrounded by the glitz and glamour of having your works appearing on glossy magazines and the season's hottest celebrities. It's a no-brainer that people want to be fashion designers just like how some covet to be millionaires. To take this career path, you need a strong design portfolio. Prior work experience in fashion will be an advantage. So this is where being an intern during your holidays pay off.

There are two kinds of Fashion Designers:

The In-house Designer:

You will work with a fashion company and design clothes according to their guidelines. The company will own the rights to your designs while you draw a monthly salary from them. Depending on the scale of the company, you may work alone or with a team. Be an in-house designer if you have plans to join the big wigs like Fendi, Gucci, Prada or Louis Vuitton.

The Freelancer:

Freelancers work for themselves and sell their designs to fashion houses, directly to shops or to manufacturers. After building a good name, you'll probably start getting people commissioning you for design work. Freelance Designers have the flexibility of work hours and tend to command higher wages, but keep in mind that financial stability is at high risk. If you're just starting out, it's best to work as an in-house designer for some experience first before attempting a freelance career.

Other Possible Paths

Most people don't study fashion design specifically to join these ranks, but if you found that designing isn't your cup of tea somewhere through your course; these are jobs in the industry that you can consider:

Fashion Buyer:

You will be responsible for travelling around and buying suitable fashions for shops or departmental stores. Your knowledge in Fashion Design will help you to predict trends or identify quality, giving you an edge for this job.

Fashion Journalist:

You will write articles about fashion and source for newsworthy stories in your field. With in-depth fashion know-how and garment composition, you'll make a perfect critic and can dish out fantastic fashion advice.

Wedding photography:

You will plan locations and carry out photoshoots with newly weds or bridal studios. By knowing the ins and outs of a fashion shoot, you can make a couple look awesome in their matrimony garb.


If you find yourself jobless long after you've graduated with your fashion design degree, all is not lost. It just means that your portfolio needs a revamp. Read up fashion magazines for inspiration and start sketching for a variety of genres. Employers judge designers by their portfolio because it's the most accurate representation of the owner that no résumé, job experience or testimonial can replace. It portrays your education, experience and personal style. With the right attitude, the possibilities are endless! If the world is not providing you with any shortcuts, the best solution is to make one yourself.