Frequently Asked Questions about Fashion Designer Programs and Careers

Before you get serious about becoming a fashion designer, browse through these FAQ’s. In this section of questions, you can learn the scope of fashion design roles for graduates. From there, you can quickly read how to become a fashion designer, and what to expect in school. We describe the qualities that most successful fashion designers possess, which you can bet includes perseverance and creativity! Just as important, you can quickly review the anticipated job demand, what the typical workday looks like, and average salary for fashion careers.

About Fashion Designers

What is a fashion designer?

Fashion designers are beauty and design professionals that create the millions of new shirts, dresses, pants, shoes, and other types of clothing that hit the market every year. As a fashion designer, you may work for a wholesale producer, a high-end design firm, or for yourself as a freelancer.

When you work for a wholesale producer or design company, you typically create designs that are in line with specific requirements and quotas that the company needs to meet. Freelance fashion designers may occasionally take on work from large companies like these in order to help them through a busy period. However, freelancers also work for private clients. They may do work for theatre and costume companies to produce costumes for a production, do design work for individuals that do not want to buy mass-produced clothing, or do work for smaller boutiques that may not be able to afford a full-time designer.

Fashion designers are involved in almost every step in the creation of new clothing. You may draw up design sketches, choose colors and fabrics, create initial pieces for testing, and pitch your designs to clients and buyers. You might work specifically in one type of clothing—women's, juniors, men's, kids', or another area of clothing—or fill in wherever you are needed.

If designing the clothes of tomorrow's fashionistas is your dream, you would probably love being a fashion designer. The first step to becoming a fashion designer is getting your education from a great fashion designing school. Get started by entering your zip code in the Beauty School finder, and choose "Fashion Design" as your program of interest. You'll immediately be hooked up with the best fashion design schools in your area.


Most fashion designers go to a two-year or four-year college to learn fashion design. During your time in school, you learn about different fabrics, styles, and fashion markets. Throughout school, you work on your fashion design portfolio and prepare it for post-graduate work.

While in school, you should also complete at least one fashion design internship. This can help you start building professional connections in the fashion world, making it more likely that you may be able to find a career after graduation.

The majority of fashion design programs in a fashion show that shows off what students have learned and designed. This is another opportunity for you to build professional connections and touch base with potential employers. After graduation, you can apply for work as a fashion designer by using your portfolio and educational experience.

The very most important quality a fashion designer can have is creativity. It is not enough to create clothing that fits in line with today's styles. A fashion designer should always be looking toward the future and figuring out what the next big style is going to be.

It is also important for fashion designers to have a good sense of business and marketing, according to the Princeton Review. This is because you may need to be able to pitch your ideas, figure out what the market wants, and deliver fashion pieces that are right for your clients and your market.

Fashion designers should also be able to handle long hours, both on and off their feet. There are almost always long nights associated with fashion design when there are fashion shows and events to attend.

As a fashion designer, you want to have thick skin and be able to accept criticism. You may have to redesign, tweak, and fix designs to make them fit your clients' or buyers' specifications. Depending on your employer, you may have to revisit designs several times before they are perfect.


sponsored content, school availability varies by location


sponsored content, school availability varies by location


sponsored content, school availability varies by location


sponsored content, school availability varies by location


sponsored content, school availability varies by location


sponsored content, school availability varies by location

Careers Options

After graduation, many fashion designers find work with retail stores, manufacturers, and design services. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists wholesalers as the largest employers of fashion design graduates, as 28% of fashion designers are employed through apparel merchant wholesalers.

In addition to working for a company, fashion designers may work as freelancers. This involves working directly for clients, and may involve longer hours. Fashion designers that work as freelancers also are typically responsible for billing and collecting payment from clients.

Upon completing school, most fashion design graduates begin in entry-level fashion jobs. In the fashion world, new graduates have to "pay their dues" by working in fashion jobs with less responsibility. This may involve sewing demos for designs that other people have created, fixing issues with other people's designs, and running errands for those who have more seniority. Rather than creating designs from their own creativity and knowledge, entry-level designers may complete designs that were dreamed up by others in the company. As you prove yourself and your design skills to your employer, you may be able to move up in the ranks and be responsible for more fashion design-related tasks. After gaining experience and seniority at a company, you can take on more responsibility as a designer. This may include creating fashion lines, having the freedom to design clothing on your own, and overseeing the work of junior designers. Some fashion designers also elect to become personal shoppers or fashion consultants.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the job demand for fashion designers may decline slightly as we move through the decade, with a 3% possible drop in positions possible by 2022. Jobs in manufacturing are expected to decrease, while jobs in specialized design firms are expected to increase. They also predict a growth in jobs for self-employed fashion designers. For fashion designers, those with formal fashion education, a strong portfolio, and solid internship experience are expected to have an easier time finding work.

Work Day

Fashion designers that work for wholesale companies or design firms can typically expect to work a normal 9 to 5 schedule. At the beginning of the work day, fashion designers may check on progress for jobs that they are currently working on. This includes looking for supervisor feedback, tweaking current designs, and collaborating with peers on projects.

Throughout the day, fashion designers may meet with supervisors, clients, and coworkers in regards to large projects, upcoming shows, and industry changes. Fashion designers typically spend most of a regular work day sitting down, although they may stand and walk around to get measurements and seek out materials.

Fashion designers spend a lot of time throughout the day working on current designs and creating new ones. This includes doing market research to see what is popular and with whom it is popular, sketching out initial designs, sharing them with peers and superiors, and creating a full-fledged color design. Fashion designers also often sew a mock-up of their design.

The typical work day changes a bit while leading up to a fashion show. Fashion designers tend to work considerably longer days while preparing for a fashion show, working up to 15 hours at a shot to get everything ready. On the night of a fashion show, designers typically spend lots of time backstage preparing clothes, making sure clothing fits the models, and evaluating how well their clothing is doing on the runway. A design show often means a long night of cleaning up and putting materials away.

Freelancing fashion designers have schedules that vary widely depending on work schedules and how they want to structure their work day. If you work as a freelancing fashion designer, you may have more freedom in deciding where and when to work. However, most freelancers tend to work longer hours and communicate more with clients, as they do not have administrative staff to take care of client communication for them.


Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2015), the median salary for fashion designers in 2014 was $73,690 per year. The variance is wide between the lowest paid designers (like entry-level fashion retailers who design mannequins in windows) and the highest (think Vera Wang, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs and the like!).

Salaries are higher in certain parts of the country, and for people who have many years of experience or who become very famous for their fashion lines. The highest employment rates for fashion designers are in California, Texas, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

Fashion Design
Commercial Career