What Type of Degree Does a Fashion Designer Require?

by Amanda Schroeder, Demand Media

Fashion designers use their creativity and talent to create clothing, shoes and accessories. Sketching designs, selecting fabrics and researching trends are key tasks a designer takes on to create the newest fashion. Pursuing a career in fashion design requires practice and talent; however, it does not require formal education for entry-level positions. Those seeking to advance their careers may seek internships or post-secondary education.

Preparing for Career and Education

Requirements for admission to fashion programs and entry-level positions in design companies varies. To prepare yourself, begin developing your design portfolio as soon as possible. Take a high school course or independently study art and design history. In addition, use the Internet and books to study designs and art to develop your artistic eye. Participate in job-shadowing, internship and field-trip opportunities that will expand your knowledge of art. Prepare for college by taking all forms of courses such as music, architecture, drawing and theater while in high school.

Post-Secondary Education

While a degree is not required to become a fashion designer, pursuing an associate or bachelor’s degree will provide greater knowledge of essential facets within the industry. While pursuing a degree, the fashion student will study textiles, sewing techniques, pattern design and design history. In addition, students will learn how to use computer-aided design technology to assist in design and pattern creation. Associations such as the Council of Fashion Designers of America offer programs and scholarships to promote the education of future fashion designers.


Fashion designers develop their talent by observing professionals and practicing their skills. Internships provide an avenue for aspiring designers to develop their skills in designing and working with fabrics. In addition, interns will gain first-hand experience working in fashion showrooms learning how the fashion industry works. Internships can provide designers with the opportunity to make connections with future employers. Find internship opportunities through local colleges and universities or contact design companies directly.

Special Considerations

Fashion designers work in a variety of settings including manufacturing, design firms and retail establishments. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, competition is high for jobs in the fashion industry, and little to no change in job growth is expected in the near future. Designers may work as in-house designers in wholesale and manufacturing companies under a commonly known label or brand. Entry-level jobs typically are very low paying and are highly competitive due to more applicants than jobs available.

About the Author

Amanda Schroeder holds a BS in Hospitality Management from Keuka College and a MSed in Vocational Education from SUNY Oswego. She has experience in restaurant management and is educated in school district business administration. Schroeder is currently teaching business and family and consumer science in New York State.

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