How To Become a Fashion Designer

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: January 5, 2022  •  8 min read  •  Creative
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Do you love fashion? Have you dreamed of becoming a fashion designer all your life? There are many things you will need to do first before you can enter this career.

Learning how to become a fashion designer is a big deal. This can be a very rewarding career, but it’s also a very competitive area. Let’s look at the job duties of a fashion designer and the steps to become one.

How To Become a Fashion Designer

Job Duties of a Fashion Designer

As a fashion designer, you will likely design and make shoes, apparel, and accessories. You will come up with preliminary designs all the way through to the finished product.

Some of the most common job duties you will have as a fashion designer include:

These are just some of the main job duties of a fashion designer.

How to Become a Fashion Designer in 5 Steps

Step #1 – Complete High School

Before you can become a fashion designer, you’ll need to complete high school. This type of career requires a college degree, so finishing high school is necessary.

You want to do very well in high school and take any design courses you can. Good SAT and ACT scores can help you get into a better bachelor’s degree program. Consider using a top SAT or ACT prep course to improve your score.

Step #2 – Get Your Bachelor’s Degree

You will need a bachelor’s degree in fashion design, visual art, or fashion merchandising. Most employers will require a degree to become a fashion designer.

If you go into visual art, you will learn about color theory and design. Those studying fashion design will learn how to develop clothing and work with fabrics. If you study fashion merchandising, you will learn about the business aspects of the fashion industry.

Step #3 – Create a Portfolio

While a degree is very helpful, your portfolio is far more important. A well-designed portfolio can go a very long way for you. Save your sketches and images from your time in school.

Add any prototypes, new sketches, and designs to your portfolio. Most employers will look at your portfolio as a part of the interview process.

Step #4 – Work as an Intern

One of the best ways to gain experience in the fashion industry is by working as an intern. You can assist an experienced fashion designer and learn some of the basic skills. This can be the right way to gain experience and move into a fashion designer position.

Step #5 – Specialize

Fashion designers will often specialize. You might specialize in luxury clothing, footwear, costume, or accessories. This can help you stand out in a crowded marketplace.

Common Skills You Need to Become a Fashion Designer

If you want to become a fashion designer, you want to develop the right skills. Some of the best skills to develop include:

Along with these skills, you will need to have persistence, a willingness to travel, and business knowledge.

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Fashion Designer

How much can I make as a fashion designer?

You may think of a career in fashion as very lucrative, but fashion designers don’t become rich overnight. has the average annual salary of a fashion designer at about $55K per year. Some employers may pay closer to $77K per year, while others may pay less.

Newark, Austin, Los Angeles, and Manhattan are the highest paying locations for fashion designers in the United States. Of course, you might make more working in a top fashion city, such as Paris.

What type of benefits do fashion designers get from employers?

Working for an employer as a fashion designer will likely give you access to many benefits. You might be able to work from home and you will likely get access to health, life, vision, and dental insurance. Some employers will provide tuition reimbursement, paid time off, a flexible schedule, and an employee stock purchase plan, too.

Can I become a fashion designer without a college degree?

Yes, but it’s not nearly as easy. This is a very competitive career and a degree helps. With the right talent and skills, you can become a fashion designer without a degree, however.

Getting a degree will help you learn the skills you need, however. When it comes down to it, your portfolio will speak for you more than your degree.

If this is the route you want to go, you will need to:

There are online courses you can take in fashion design. If you decide to become a fashion designer without a degree, you might be better off working for yourself.

What type of hours do fashion designers work?

As a fashion designer, you will likely work long hours, especially at first. You will work a regular 9 to 5 schedule with overtime. Most fashion designers will attend fashion shows, work evenings, and work weekends.

Travel may be a big part of your job when you first start. Entry-level positions often work long hours and spend time traveling to fashion shows for their employer.

What type of work environment can I expect as a fashion designer?

It’s common to work in an office environment and a manufacturing setting. Faison designers may also work in studios. A common workday will include working with computers, sewing machines, and more.

Which cities are the best for fashion designers?

New York City and Los Angeles are known as the largest hubs in the United States. There are smaller markets you can work within, as well. If you’re self-employed, a smaller market is usually the best option.

Can I become a self-employed fashion designer?

Yes, you can work for yourself as a fashion designer. Most designers work for footwear, clothing, or accessory manufacturing companies. However, many designers also work for themselves.

If you want to develop your own brand or clothing label, this is the way to go. You will need to learn how to develop products, manufacturing, and how to market your designs.

It’s also possible to work as a freelance designer. This means you will take on short-term contracts from fashion companies. You will develop products for them without becoming an employee.

Do I need to specialize as a fashion designer?

You don’t have to specialize, but it’s a great way to become more hirable. The fashion industry covers many different niches. You can choose a niche as your specialty, such as women’s swimwear, accessories design, men’s clothing, or sportswear.

Becoming a fashion designer might be the right career for you. Maybe you’ve been dreaming of this career all your life.

There are many great opportunities in the fashion industry. If you want to become a fashion designer, these are the steps to your new career. Choose a specialty and start working towards your new career today.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path.