Fashion Designer Career

fashion-designer-500Fashion designers explore fashion trends and sketch designs of accessories and clothing. After the designs are created, they select fabrics and colors and oversee the final production for the designs. They may focus on apparel or footwear for men, women, or children, accessories like handbags, eyewear, belts, hats, scarves, and hosiery, or all of these areas. It generally takes about 18 to 24 months for the design process to go from initial concept to final production.

Fashion Designer Career Assessment

Take our fashion designer career assessment. This 30 question quiz let’s you know if you’re cut out for a career in fashion design by analyzing your abilities, skills, and interests.

1. Can you coordinate employees and other workers in helping to create samples or finished garments?

2. Does the idea of examining sample garments on and off models sound OK to you?

3. Can you sketch both rough and final draft drawings or apparel and accessories?

4. Are you OK writing color schemes and specifications outlining material types?

5. Can you communicate with sales and management employees, executive, and clients on design ideas?

6. Do you have or would you like to have knowledge of design techniques and tools related to drawings, blueprints, and models?

7. Do you have knowledge of the structure of the English language including the spelling of words and grammar?

8. Are you interested in gaining knowledge on raw materials, quality control, and production processes?

9. Are you OK learning about techniques for maximizing effective manufacture and distribution of goods?

10. Would you like to learn about methods for promoting, showing, and selling products?

11. Can you give your full attention to what others are saying?

12. Can you use logic and reasoning to approach problems?

13. Do you have the ability to understand the implications of information for problem-solving?

14. Can you adjust your actions in relation to the actions of others?

15. Do you have the ability to consider the relative costs of possible actions to choose the most appropriate action?

16. Do you have the ability to communicate information in speaking so others will understand?

17. Do you have the ability to listen and understand information giving to you through spoken words and sentences?

18. Do you have the ability to develop creative solutions to problems?

19. Can you apply deductive and inductive reasoning?

20. Can you come up with a variety of ideas about a topic?

21. Are you OK thinking creatively throughout your workday?

22. Can you establish and maintain working relationships?

23. Do you have the ability to prioritize and accomplish your work goals?

24. Can you effectively get all the relevant data through observation?

25. Can you accurately assess the value and importance of things?

26. Are you OK being in constant or near to constant contact with others?

27. Can you use email to communicate pretty much every day?

28. Are you OK having a lot of freedom in your day-to-day tasks and goals?

29. Can you be exact or highly accurate when performing your job?

30. Are you OK sitting, standing, and walking throughout the day?

Fashion Designer Snapshot

Fashion designers typically work from a comfortable office setting. They schedule time to meet with clients which may mean evening or weekend work is necessary. Overtime is also frequent due to deadlines. Some travel may be required to trade and fashion shows as well as to meet with suppliers.

Take a look at the career snapshot for fashion designers (statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Onet Online):


is the average earnings for fashion designers per year.


increase in employment between 2014 and 2024.


have an Associate’s degree in fashion design.

Fashion Designer Education

A degree in fashion design, business, marketing, or fashion merchandising are necessary in order to gain employment in the fashion industry. Many schools offer Associate and Bachelor degree programs in fashion designing.

Fashion Designer Job Duties

The life of a fashion designer is filled with the study of fashion trends. They help create all types of clothing and accessories for men, women and children. Fashion designers frequently meet with clients, sketch designs, research new trends, and meet with manufacturers.

Fashion Designer Salaries

The average salary for a fashion designer is slightly more than $60,000 per year although figures over $100,000 a year are possible in this industry. In fact, the top 10% of fashion designers earn more than $125,270 per year.

Fashion Designer Job Outlook

According to the, careers in fashion design are expected to increase by 3% between 2014 and 2024 which is slower than the average occupation. It’s a competitive field, so it’s best to work toward having a top-notch portfolio.

Fashion Designer Career

Becoming a fashion designer requires special knowledge with tools of the trade as shown in the table below:

Fashion Designer Skill Set:Required Abilities:Tools Used by Fashion Designers:Typical Work Activities:
•Active Listening
•Critical Thinking
•Active Learning
•Judgement and Decision Making

•Oral Expression
•Oral Comprehension
•Deductive Reasoning
•Fluency of Ideas

•Facsimile machines, scanners, printers
•Tape measures

•Thinking Creatively
•Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
•Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work

Fashion Designer Career Insights

Find out more about what a career as a fashion designer is like by going to the source. Read interviews from actual fashion designers.

Alicia G, Founder of

Alicia G, Founder of

Costume Jewelry Designer for 10 years

Why did you decide to get into jewelry design?

I’ve always been involved in fashion and had a true love of it. When I interned at a well known fashion design label, I realized it wasn’t for me. I saw that no matter how talented I was, I wasn’t going to get ahead. I got my degree in Fashion then got another degree in Jewelry Design. I really didn’t have a game plan, I just knew I always wanted to know how to make jewelry. When I interview with the chair of the department, I didn’t even know if I wanted to be a studio major or a drawing major! I made the right choice. The jewelry industry is super small and the costume jewelry industry is even smaller. I’ve learned so much for the many companies I’ve worked for. I always plan to stay long, but I’ve never worked anywhere for more than 2 years. Recently I’ve been freelancing, which is great because you get to be creative for short amounts of time, meet a lot of different people and get to sit in different offices. The only scary part is that freelancing is usually feast or famine. You’ll get a ton of job offers at the same time and then might not have anyone contact you for weeks. If you’re good at what you do and nice (very important), you should be okay.

How did you get into the profession?

I studied at F.I.T. I took the one year jewelry design program. Afterwards I worked for a woman who was starting her own line. I learned a lot about creating jewelry using wire from her. I also learned about different stones and how to run a small business ( successfully and unsuccessfully).

What do you like best about the profession?

I like the creativity that sometimes happens.

What skills are most important for jewelry designers?

These days knowing a computer program is a must. A lot of places are fine if you can draw, but most people at least know Illustrator. Some places are asking for Rhino experience, but it’s a tricky program.

What is the most challenging about being a jewelry designer?

It’s really competitive and fast paced. I find myself getting bored because you have to keep looking at the same jewelry you designed for sometimes months, revising it. There are also a lot of different personalities in the field. You have to have a pretty thick skin to get along with everyone.

Do you have any advice for those attending school or pursuing a career in design?

Love it, otherwise you won’t be happy. Always be nice to people. You never know if the person who interns for you today could be your boss tomorrow.

Andrea Howell, Founder of Tidal Cool

Andrea Howell, Founder of Tidal Cool

Fashion Designer (full-time for 2 years)

How did you get into the field of fashion design?

Most of my training came as an apprentice. I worked side by side with my grandmother, who owned a fabric store, and learned the tips of the trade by gleaning all of her knowledge. Although I didn’t go to design school, I’ve been sewing and designing clothes for the majority of my life. Even if you plan on going to design school, try and get an internship or apprenticeship right away, so you can learn trade secrets and skills by a professional!

What do you like best about the profession?

I love transforming a raw idea, from a rough sketch and a swatch of fabric, to a full, developed idea. Seeing an idea culminate in a full collection on the runway is exhilarating. Being able to pull those ideas out of my head and put them into real, physical pieces of art is so fulfilling for my artistic soul!

What skills are most important for fashion designers?

Strong fundamental sewing skills are critical. Even if you’re a great designer, improving your technique will make your garments look more professional and less student. No one will take you seriously unless your clothing is perfectly tailored and look as though they belong on a store display.

What is the most challenging thing about being a fashion designer?

For me personally, I think the ease and cost of buying from box stores has desensitized people to the craft of making and creating clothes. People love a good bargain, and being competitive with factories overseas is almost impossible. A lot of designers are really pushing the “Made in America” concept. Even the garment district in New York is struggling because of the cheap outsourced labor force. I try not to worry about competing with someone else’s designs and prices, and focus on making the best garments!

Do you have any advice for those attending school or pursuing a career in fashion design?

Carry a sketchbook with you everywhere! You never know what things will inspire you.

George Anthony Robles

George Anthony Robles | LinkedIn

Creative Direction/Fashion for 15 years

Why did you decide to get into the field of fashion?

I ‘ve always liked to create art & to me clothing is a form of art! People wear clothing that represents something that they can relate to, agree with, like, or stand for & for me a t-shirt is a blank canvas that can eventually tell a story & have a meaning. I love to create masterpieces & it’s always a pleasure for me to see people wear & appreciate my art.

How did you get into the profession?

I was always an artist & eventually I decided that I wanted to put my art on something other than walls. I got into the profession by taking my future into my own hands. I learned how to do everything along the way – if there was a new skill I needed to master I researched it & learned it on my own by teaching myself thru the latest technology & software such as Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator.

All my experience has been hands on. Learning through friends that were in the same industry and thru different jobs acquired through out the years. I’m still growing as a designer to this day.

What do you like best about being a fashion designer?

I like everything about designing, from initial cad development to finally seeing my designs come to life. All of it inspires me to put my best foot forward & take it to the next level each time. But the best feeling I get is when I see people buying & wearing the product I’ve created. Its like you create a movement for a generation. It humbles me.

What skills are most important for fashion designers?

To me some of the most important skills are sketching, understanding how certain colors work together, knowledge about fabrics, different fabric weights, cut & sew, and having a meticulous eye for details.

What is the most challenging thing about being in the profession?

For me, the tug of war between the sales team & the design team when it comes to the garments development process. Price points play a heavy role in the final garment so sometimes your designs get altered.

Do you have any advice for those attending school or pursuing a career in fashion?

Learn to be a master of your craft by consistently practicing & learning. Every project is a learning experience & you should take from it everything you can to apply it to the next project. Don’t be afraid to learn from your mistakes & take the advice of your peers into consideration.

If you love what you do, you will be successful

I would also say make sure you protect yourself as a designer. Once you’re doing well people from all angles of the industry will try to take advantage of your ability and abuse your talent. Make sure you get as much as you give out. A lawyer would help.

Liz Luo | Designer at House of Wu and Tiffany Designs

Liz Luo | Designer at House of Wu and Tiffany Designs

Fashion Designer for 8 years

Why did you decide to get into the fashion design industry?

From a young age, I was interested in art and color and how they worked together. After finishing school at the Shanghai Art School, I began my career as a designer for the House of Wu.

What do you like best about the profession?

I design the prom dresses under the design label, Tiffany Designs and Hannah S. All of the beadwork and embroidery on my dresses are my own designs and I love this part about my work. Creating new looks for each collection. I find inspiration from traveling around Europe and the U.S. and from fashion shows. I love to explore fabrics and various color combinations.

What skills are most important for fashion designers?

Being able to create new designs that inspire girls every season. Seeing color combinations and understanding the use of fabric is important.

What is the most challenging about being a fashion designer?

There is a surge in counterfeit designs with the increase of online shopping. This is very difficult for a designer because in the end it is the girl going to her first prom or homecoming that becomes the victim.

Wen Wu, President of House of Wu

Wen Wu, President of House of Wu

Fashion Designer of 24 years

Why did you decide to get into a career in fashion design?

I find it to be a rewarding industry, working on beautiful designs. It is gratifying to see our customers appreciate each dress, giving me pleasure in life and a sense of accomplishment.

How did you get into the profession?

I am a graduate with a Master of Structure Engineering from the University of Florida. I worked in a steel manufacture company for five years, and decided to start my own business. Originally, I started with retail store in Fort Myers, Florida that evolved into design, manufacture and distribution of our dresses.

What do you like best about the field of fashion?

The industry is challenging and we are constantly developing new fashion and marketing strategies.

What skills are most important for fashion designers?

Have an eye for fashion, understanding the logistics of the operation, and being able to build a successful business marketing strategy.

What is the most challenging thing about being in the profession?

Creating new fashion designs that are fashion forward and on or ahead of the trend for consumers and developing new color combinations.

Do you have any advice for those attending school or pursuing a career in fashion?

Believe in yourself. Continue to create. Combine your ideas with reality.

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