If everyone looks to you for clothing advice, or you enjoy reading fashion magazines from cover to cover, then a career in fashion design might be your dream job. Fashion designers spend their time dreaming up outfits for leading fashion houses or their own boutique lines. While fame and fortune are to be had by select designers, the thrill of seeing your ideas come to life on a live model could make this an enticing career option.
While many fashion houses do not require a degree to design clothing, many aspiring designers earn an associate or bachelor's degree in fashion design, textiles or a related field. Training in computer-aided design is a highly marketable skill in the design industry -- your time designing the perfect gown in Paint probably won't suffice. During your studies for a degree in fashion design you will complete enough pieces to begin your own portfolio of work to present to potential employers.
An overwhelming desire to design clothing will do you no good if you do not have a natural penchant for fashion. You must have the ability to draw well enough to create designs on paper, and be able to see a two-dimensional drawing as a three-dimensional piece of clothing. Artistic ability is something that cannot be taught, though you can develop your talents over time through first-hand experience, practice and education.
Whether you are self-taught or your grandmother provided sewing lessons during your childhood summers, sewing skills are a must for any fashion designer. The more time you spend at a sewing machine, the more you will understand fabrics. You also learn how material acts when run through a machine and whether it will be suitable for different articles of clothing. If your sewing skills are sub-par, investing time and money into lessons and practice will pay off when you attend design school or look for work.
A professional portfolio filled with pictures of high quality pieces you have made is valuable to an aspiring fashion designer. Your portfolio allows design houses to get a glimpse of your fashion tastes and will allow them to decide whether they mesh with the house's overall designs. You probably will have a basic portfolio completed if you acquired a design degree, but you must continue to design new pieces. As your designs progress and change, you should remove pieces that no longer reflect your style from your portfolio.
2016 Salary Information for Fashion Designers
Fashion designers earned a median annual salary of $65,170 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, fashion designers earned a 25th percentile salary of $46,020, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $92,550, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 23,800 people were employed in the U.S. as fashion designers.