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Fashion Design: A Career on the Catwalk and Beyond

You may already know how to sketch and sew, but it takes more than fancy handiwork to make it in the fashion design world. Aspiring fashion designers must have the ability to visually present their ideas and to produce them. That's what fashion design school prepares you to do.

Fashion design schools emphasize innovation and creativity in fashion while providing the professional skills and technical knowledge necessary for successful entry into the industry.


In fashion design school, you'll be introduced to the basic skills of construction in sewing, flat pattern drafting, and draping. Typical courses include computer-aided apparel design, fabric analysis, and textile science. You may also take specialty classes in knit construction, menswear, sportswear, and children's apparel.

Plus, fashion design schools offer hands-on experience not only in pattern making, clothing construction, draping, and specialty design, but also in creating storyboards and visual presentations from illustration and computer techniques. You'll learn to use computer software for fashion illustrations, textile design, flats and specifications, graphic layouts, and spreadsheets.


Another benefit of fashion design schools is receiving instruction from professional designers who offer a strong foundation of design, illustration, computer, and presentation skills.

When you're researching fashion design programs, look for one that offers business practices, agency procedures, marketing, and client relations in order to support the creative side of design and provide you with a realistic view of a career in fashion design. Be sure the curriculum is designed to meet current industry needs. Another benefit you'll open yourself up to opportunities that fall more on the business side of fashion, specifically fashion merchandising and fashion marketing.

Fashion design schools can provide excellent internship opportunities with fashion houses, retailers, and textile producers. So when it comes time to look for a job, you will have the professional portfolio and contacts to be successful. You may qualify for an entry-level position as an assistant designer, merchandiser, production specialist, private label designer, stylist, grader, assistant coordinator, illustrator, technical designer, or CAD or CAM operator.

With experience, you may advance to chief designer or design department head. Some fashion designers start design companies or sell their designs in their own retail stores. Top designers work for high-fashion design houses that offer personalized design services to celebrity clients.

For the best job prospects, consider working in New York or California, where two-thirds of fashion designers were employed in 2004. Fashion merchandising and fashion marketing positions are abundant on the coasts as well. Once you secure a job and establish your fashion design credibility, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that you can anticipate an annual salary of about $55,840.

Pursue fashion design training and learn the ropes of fashion merchandising and fashion marketing, and you'll have your career all sewn up.

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