Career Haute Couture – When You Absolutely Must Become a Fashion Designer

There’s just something about the fabrics, the colors and the fashionista spirit that drives you to this field. Becoming a fashion designer means so much more than understanding clothes. It’s knowing how to identify the trends that drive the consumer to buy. Learn that, and your career potential may very well be unlimited.

The Fashion Design 411

The fashion design industry is comprised of a wide variety of professional positions that range from the creative to the systematic. The population of true designers is a select group, with new positions and annual turnover remarkably low.

The median annual wage of fashion designers in May 2007 was $62,810, with the top 10 percent earning $121,640 and the bottom 10 percent earning $31,340. Potential salary and employment opportunities should be best with design firms that create mass market clothing. Also, because about 25 percent of professional in this field work temporary or contract positions, the environment can be right for entrepreneurs and business self-starters.

Becoming a Fashion Designer: What It Takes to Get There

The road to become a fashion designer is similar to most trade or artisan fields. Two paths exist: a traditional academic route and a career training alternative. Approximately 250 postsecondary institutions accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design offer 2- or 4-year degrees in fine arts. Community colleges and trade schools also provide career training without the breadth of a liberal arts-based degree.

During or after training, potential candidates typically intern with manufacturers, buyers, or retail outlets in preparation for the day-to-day demands of the job. Opportunities for interdisciplinary and international study should be available to promising students.

Program and Course Requirements

The changing landscape of the fashion design industry is taking students through an unusually contemporary readiness strategy. The emergence of Auto CAD as a design tool is placing a premium on candidates with advanced technical skills. Also, communications remains an integral part of the job and encourages students to consider the academic development option.

Common courses may include textiles, color, pattern making, sewing, tailoring, fashion history, and more. You may also develop a working portfolio during your studies that can be used both to gauge your progress and market yourself to potential employers.

Become a Fashion Designer: Short-cuts and Time Savers

Some things to do to keep yourself ahead of the curve:

o Prepare Early. Get basic courses out of the way as soon as possible–mathematics, psychology, design and sketching, and human anatomy to name a few.

o Make Contacts. Use your preparation period to cultivate valuable industry and career contacts that you can leverage when job-hunting.

o Continue Learning. Professional development is one of the keys to becoming a fashion designer; that means always taking advantage of conventions, workshops, and showings.

Your fashion design career should be what you make it. As with most creative fields, conscientious planning and a determination to learn the basics often make the difference.

Finding Careers in the Fashion Industry

The vibrant, ever-changing fashion industry is always looking for brilliant minds with an idea of what comes next in design and merchandising. Could you be that visionary voice? What does the future hold for jobs in the fashion industry?

Check out some of the top fashion industry jobs, and learn what you can do to work your way into one of these exciting careers.

Fashion & Retail Management

If you love fashion and you’ve always wanted to own your own business, a degree in retail management could be right up your alley. You already know what shoes to pair with that little black dress for the perfect night out, but you need to learn the details of management as it relates to fashion. Courses in fashion sales, retail history, and more can give you the experience you need to enter the field with confidence.

Management Salary Points. In 2007, retail sales managers and supervisors saw mean annual earnings of $39,210, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Management positions at high-end boutiques and specialty stores might earn more, depending on location and experience.

Fashion Merchandising Careers

If you stand behind your brand, you have to be able to sell it. Fashion merchandising is an umbrella term that covers a range of careers, including: Merchandise managers ” Fashion buyers ” Fashion marketers ” Fashion sales

Even those who specialize in creating window dressings for department stores fall under the category of fashion merchandising.

Fashion merchandise managers see a lot of use in today’s fashion economy. “Today it’s the merchandise manager who carries the weight,” Marvin Traub, a retail consultant, told the New York Times. “He has an eye to the numbers.” While a degree or certificate in fashion merchandising may not be required for all careers, it can help to have the technical knowledge you can pair with you existing passion.

Merchandising Salary Points. Wholesale and retail buyers earned $53,580 in 2007, the BLS reports. That same year, purchasing managers across all industries earned mean annual wages of $90,430. While that figure goes well beyond the fashion industry, it should give you an idea of the kind of salary a skilled manager in the field might expect.

Fashion Designers

When you first think of jobs in the fashion industry, you might picture famous fashion designers like Donatella Versace or Michael Kors. While it’s true that most work can be found in fashion hubs California and New York, designers typically work all over the country, running small businesses and boutiques. Whether you’re dreaming of small-town success or a big-city dream, training in fashion design can get you there.

Fashion Design Salary Points. Fashion designers saw mean annual wages of $71,170 in 2007, according to the BLS. Most designers worked in New York or California, cementing the notion that your best chances for employment are on the opposite coasts.

While competition is keen for many careers and no degree can guarantee a job, graduates of fashion schools are still finding a viable job market. Research fashion schools to get a better idea of your potential future.