All You Need To Know About A Designer Career
You think about becoming a fashion designer but are not sure whether this is the right career path for you or not yet?
Stick with me since I will show you everything you know about being a designer in the following chapters.
Not only will we talk about salaries, but you will also learn a lot about job satisfaction, job outlook, working hours, educational requirements and social standing of designers.
After we talk about all those main things, I also provide an FAQ section where I answer many questions about a designer career so that you can better decide whether you still want to go this career path or rather want to do something else for a living instead.
Without further ado, let’s get right into it!
What does a Fashion Designer do?
Fashion designers plan and design clothes and fashion collections and try to meet current trends.
Every fashion range will be new and exciting and designers are often pretty creative and exotic in what they are doing.
Hence, you should have a high level of creativity for working in this field and you should also be fine to deal with snarky comments about your taste.
Responsibilities & Duties of a Fashion Designer
- Design of clothing ranges
- Setting new trends
- Being different and more exciting compared to other brands
- Setting the tone in the fashion industry
- Design of unique collections the world has never seen before
- Making a long-lasting positive impression on potential customers
- Preparation of fashion shows
- Communication with the design team
- Researching and expanding on current fashion trends
- Designing of sketches
- Creation of design patterns for mass production purposes
- Recognizing future trends
- Making sure that the brand stays competitive in the long run
What a Typical Day of a Fashion Designer looks like?
Fashion designers often start their workday between 7 and 9 a.m.
After getting to their workplace, the first thing they usually do is checking their emails to see if there is something important that needs to be done immediately within a rather short period of time.
After that, designers do the work they are specialized in.
They meet up with their design team to coordinate staff members and to make sure that everyone works as efficiently as possible.
Apart from assuring a decent workflow, designers often work with design software on their computer to invent or improve fashion designs to make them ready for the mass market in the long run.
After working for 8 to 10 hours, most designers leave their workplace between 5 and 7 p.m.
While this is a rather standard workday, please note that every day will be different and that you can never know what happens on a specific day since the fashion industry is just far too complex for that.
Fashion Designer Salary 2021
Fashion Designer salary brackets 2021
|Salary Brackets||Salary (per year)||Salary (per hour)|
|Top 10 %||> $138,000||> $68.88|
|Top 25 %||$88,000 – $105,000||$43.92 – $52.38|
|Bottom 25 %||$54,000 – $59,000||$26.91 – $29.43|
|Bottom 10 %||$38,000 – $46,000||$18.89 – $22.94|
|Range||$38,000 – $165,000||$18.89 – $82.45|
Fashion Designer salary 2021 by expert level
|Level of Experience||Salary (per year)||Salary (per hour)|
|Entry level||$38,000 – $47,000||$18.89 – $23.45|
|Junior||$45,000 – $56,000||$22.36 – $27.91|
|Professional||$53,000 – $68,000||$26.42 – $33.88|
|Senior Professional||$64,000 – $81,000||$31.94 – $40.37|
|Expert||$77,000 – $95,000||$38.38 – $47.40|
|Top Expert||$92,000 – $165,000||$45.87 – $82.46|
Fashion Designer salary by state 2021 (average)
|State||Salary (per year)||Salary (per hour)|
|District of Columbia||$64,800||$32.35|
Job Security of Fashion Designers
Fashion designers enjoy decent job security.
In fact, if you are getting really good at what you are doing and also have a high level of creativity and people love your designs, you can work for almost every fashion company out there and this gives you many options.
In turn, in case you might get fired, you will likely find a new job soon.
Future Job Prospects of Fashion Designers
In the future, intelligent machines will replace some designers since they will be able to do part of the work much cheaper than humans.
However, this doesn’t mean that all designers will get fired. It just means that job opportunities will be slightly worse compared to today and you will no longer have freedom of choice for whom you want to work for, at least if you are not an outstanding designer personality.
Working Hours of Fashion Designers
Most fashion designers get to work between 7 and 9 a.m. and get home from work between 5 and 7 p.m.
Hence, fashion designers have a rather standard workweek and don’t have to work many extra hours compared to other people like investment bankers who sit in an office for long hours every day.
Job Satisfaction of Fashion Designers
Most fashion designers really like what they are doing for a living.
In fact, many people who work in this field have a real passion for design and can therefore combine their interests and hobbies with making decent money at the same time while still having enough leisure for their loved ones.
Promotion Opportunities of Fashion Designers
If you are willing to work hard, you will also have good promotion opportunities as a designer.
Not only will you be able to climb the ladder within the company you currently work for, but you will also be able to start your own fashion label or brand in the long run.
Career Levels of Fashion Designers
- Fashion designer intern
- Junior fashion designer
- Senior fashion designer
- Senior fashion designer with budget responsibility
- Senior fashion designer with budget and personnel responsibility
- Head of a fashion design division
- Head of fashion design of the whole company
- World-class designer with international reputation
- Owner of a fashion brand
Fields and Types of Fashion Designers
- Designer for men’s clothing
- Designer for women’s clothing
- Designer specialized in dresses
- Designer specialized in shoes
- Designer specialized in pants
- Designers with expertise in suits
- Designer with expertise in kid’s wear
- Ready-to-wear designers
- Sportswear designers
- Haute couture designers
- Apparel designers
- Mass-market designers
- Accessory designers
Educational Requirements for Fashion Designers
Designers often need at least a bachelor’s degree in fashion design to work in this field.
Even better would be a master’s degree if you want to work for a renowned fashion company and you should therefore be willing to invest lots of time and money in education before you decide for going this career path.
How to become a Fashion Designer
- Check out the advantages and disadvantages of being a fashion designer
- Make sure you have the traits necessary to succeed as a fashion designer
- Get your high school diploma
- Apply for colleges that offer fashion degrees
- Pass admission tests
- Select your favorite college
- Study hard to get good grades
- Work as an intern at a fashion company
- Complete your degree
- Apply for jobs in the fashion industry
- Master the job interview
- Start your career as a fashion designer
- Start your own label or brand (optional)
Character Traits you need as a Fashion Designer
- You should be a creative person
- Willingness to work hard
- Willingness to deal with snarky comments about your work
- Acceptance that you can’t make everyone happy
- Willingness to work both with a computer and with your hands
- Ability to spot current market trends
- Patience in case your team doesn’t work as fast as you might have hoped
- Ability to deal with drawbacks in case fashion ranges fail
- Passion for designing clothing
Hard Skills for Fashion Designers
- Good knowledge of how to design clothes
- Ability to work with a computer
- You always have to adapt to latest fashion design software
- Ability to lead your design team
- Good knowledge of current market trends
- Ability to forecast trends in the future
- Sewing skills can help as well
- Knowledge about the legal framework related to fashion and copyright
- Ability to produce clothing with a reasonable budget
- Good visualization skills
- You should be a practitioner instead of a dreamer
Soft Skills for Fashion Designers
- Artistic talent helps to find solutions to complex problems
- Creativity helps to always reinvent yourself
- Competitiveness helps to always stay ahead of the game
- You should have a sense of what people want
- You should be open to critical feedback
- You should believe in yourself and your fashion style
- Ability to go your own way
- Patience in case something doesn’t work out
- Good people skills help you lead your team
Exit Options for Fashion Designers
While fashion designers will learn many things in the fashion industry, they will not learn many other skills that are valuable in the job market right now since they are simply too specialized.
In turn, there will be barely any exit options other than to work as a designer in a different field.
Fashion Designer – Similar Careers
- Floral designer
- Industrial designer
- Art director
- Graphic designer
- Manager of a fashion brand
- Designer assistant
- Fashion salesperson
- Fashion marketing manager
Fashion Designer Career FAQs
Is working as a fashion designer physically demanding?
Working as a fashion designer is not physically demanding.
While you sometimes have to work with your hands, you will usually not have to lift heavy things but will rather work with your brain most of the time.
Is working as a fashion designer mentally demanding?
Working as a fashion designer can be mentally demanding.
In fact, you always have to come up with new fashion ideas and if you are not an extremely creative person, it will be pretty hard for you to stay competitive in this field in the long run.
Is it dangerous to work as a fashion designer?
Being a fashion designer is not dangerous at all.
Most of the time, you will just sit in an office chair behind a computer and using software for improving current designs.
In turn, your risk at work will be much lower compared to police officers or firemen who really risk their lives every day.
How long do fashion designers stay in their jobs?
Most fashion designers stay in their jobs for quite a long time.
In fact, most designers really love what they are doing and can’t think about doing anything else.
Moreover, some designers may want to switch but it will be pretty hard to get out of this industry since you are simply too specialized to be able to work in a different field.
Is it easy for fashion designers to find a new job?
If you are really good at what you are doing and also able to build a strong personal brand, you will almost have freedom of choice regarding whom you want to work for.
However, new designers often have problems finding a new job in case they get fired and you should therefore make sure to work hard during your first years to build your reputation in this industry to harvest the fruits of your labor later in your career.
Is it hard to switch from being a fashion designer to another field of work?
As a fashion designer, you are pretty specialized in what you are doing.
Consequently, it will also be pretty hard for you to find a job in a different industry since you will simply often lack the qualifications other employers require.
In turn, you may get trapped in the fashion industry forever.
Do fashion designers have a high social status?
Fashion designers have a decent social status, even though doctors and other people who can save lives will have a much higher social status and you should not expect that you are admired by other people as a fashion designer that much.
Can you help out your family and friends as a fashion designer?
Since you will be specialized in creating fashion lines for the mass market, you will not be able to good for your loved ones as a fashion designer.
In fact, compared to craftsmen who can do a really important job for their family and friends when it comes to fixing stuff, you will be rather helpless in this regard and your reputation within your level of friends may be rather low due to that.
Can fashion designers work remotely?
Fashion designers are not able to work remotely most of the time.
While it might be able to work from home on rare occasions, fashion designers often have to be present at their workplace in person since they often need equipment that is not available at home.
Is it easy to find a partner as a fashion designer?
Since you will have a decent social standing, decent working hours and can also make good money, you will have a rather easy time in the dating market as a fashion designer while many other people who don’t have those attributes will have it much more difficult finding a partner for a long-term relationship.
Do fashion designers have to work on weekends?
Fashion designers don’t have to work on weekends.
However, many of them are so passionate about what they are doing that they voluntarily work during Saturdays and Sundays and if you have your own fashion label, you may just be working every day since you want your baby to succeed.
Do fashion designers have to work on holidays?
Fashion designers also don’t have to work on holidays.
Instead, you can use those days to make nice trips with your family, on your hobbies or just for relaxing in your garden while many other people like waiters and train drivers often have to work during those times.
Do fashion designers have to work at nighttime?
Fashion designers don’t have to work at nighttime.
Instead, you will have a rather standard workweek and will also often come home from work relatively early.
Consequently, you will also have enough time for the things you love even more than working and can also meet up with your favorite people after work.
Do you have to travel as a fashion designer?
There is no need to travel as a fashion designer for most of the time.
The only time you might have to travel is when it comes to fashion shows that take place in different cities, states or even countries.
However most of the time, you will just be able to spend your leisure at home together with your loved ones.
Are fashion designer pensions good?
Since fashion designers can make decent money, they will also get a relatively good pension.
However, you should still save and invest money that you can use later once you retire so that you don’t struggle with financial issues once you get older and can’t actively work anymore.
Are fashion designer salaries going up?
Fashion designer salaries have been going up over the past years.
Yet, there is still a big difference in the salary of noname designers and famous designers and you should therefore make sure to build a strong personal brand if you want to make really good money as a fashion designer.
Can you have a positive effect on society as a fashion designer?
Your effect on society will be rather limited as a fashion designer, even though you might be able to make us look better.
However, compared to teachers or other people who can shape the character of the general public on a daily basis, you will just not have the same level of influence on society.
How long does it take to become a fashion designer?
It will take you between 3 and 6 years to get your degree in fashion design.
Yet, this will just be the start of your designer career and it may take you much longer until you are finally able to build your brand and to be recognized by the general public.
Is it difficult to become a fashion designer?
While you will have to spend many years in college, it will not be that difficult to become a fashion designer.
However, what’s much more challenging is to become a famous fashion designer and if your goal is that people will recognize you when you walk down the streets, you would have to invest ungodly amounts of time in your career and also need lots of luck to get to this stage.
Do you need to be smart to work as a fashion designer?
You don’t need to have a high IQ for working as a fashion designer.
What’s much more important is that you are a creative person who also has a talent for forecasting future market trends since design changes pretty quickly and you always have to reinvent yourself to stay successful in the long run.
Do fashion designers have a good work-life balance?
Fashion designers have pretty decent work-life balance.
Not only will they have free weekends, holidays and also don’t have to work at nighttime, but most designers also don’t have to work long hours and will therefore have enough time for meeting up with their loved ones after work.
Do fashion designers have to work many extra hours?
Fashion designers don’t have to work many extra hours.
While you might have to work additional hours during busy times when collections have to get ready to market, you will have a rather relaxed time for most of the year.
How to maximize your chances of becoming a fashion designer?
The more you practice and the harder you study, the more likely it will be that you will become a famous designer sooner or later.
Hence, you should invest lots of time in your passion and should also do your own projects pretty soon in your life to build a strong reputation in this industry early.
Can fashion designers work part-time?
While fashion designers are also able to work part-time, most of them still work full-time since they just need the money and are also really passionate about what they are doing.
Consequently, there is no reason for most fashion designers to only work part-time.
Do fashion designers work indoors or outdoors?
Fashion designers work indoors for the entire workday.
They will often just sit behind a computer screen in an office while many other people out there have to work outdoors and have to deal with extreme heat, rain or snow while you as a designer will have a rather relaxed time in this regard.
What does the workplace of a fashion designer look like?
Fashion designers use our modern technologies and therefore work with a computer and software for most of their workday.
Hence, many designers work in an office environment and rarely do work with their bare hands anymore.
Do you have to look good for working as a fashion designer?
You don’t necessarily have to look good as a fashion designer.
However, if you want to become famous, you should still look different compared to the average person so that you stand out from the crowd and people will recognize and remember you.
Is a fashion designer career beneficial for your private life?
Since you will be able to make decent money and also have a pretty good work-life balance, it will also be relatively easy to maintain a successful marriage for you as a fashion designer while people who work in fields with poor work-life balance often break up with each other rather soon.
Do you need a college degree for becoming a fashion designer?
You will need at least an undergraduate degree in fashion design for working in this field.
Many prestigious companies even require you to get a master’s degree and this means that you will have to spend lots of time on education for your dream of becoming a designer.
Do you need to be certified to work as a fashion designer?
You don’t need to be certified for working as a designer.
Instead, you should rather invest your time in building a strong brand since the more people are aware of your brand, the more people will be willing to buy your clothes and the more money you can make in the long run.
How much does it cost to become a fashion designer?
Since you will have to get a college degree, you will have to spend lots of money on your education.
In turn, many fashion designers have to pay back six-figure loans and you should really make sure that working as a designer is your dream to justify this huge money and time investment.
Is being a fashion designer a good career?
If you are really passionate about fashion and you also do lots of stuff in this regard in your leisure, chances are that you will also get pretty happy with a job in fashion design and it may be a pretty good career for you.
However, you will likely not get happy as a fashion designer if you are not a creative person and often struggle to come up with your own ideas.
Is it easy to start your own business as a fashion designer?
If you want to start your own business as a fashion designer, you first need to build a strong personal brand so that people know who you are and will be willing to pay significant amounts of money for your clothes.
Otherwise, competition would often be too fierce and your risk of failure would be high.
Can fashion designers teach themselves?
Fashion designers are able to teach themselves quite a lot.
In fact, fashion designers learn most things they need on the job and if you are willing to work hard and are also really passionate about what you are doing, you can get many things you need to start your fashion design career for free on the internet.
However, if you want to work as an employed fashion designer, you still have to get a degree since most companies would not be willing to employ you otherwise.
Do fashion designers make good money?
Fashion designers can make really good money.
However, how much you make as a fashion designer also greatly depends on your skills and also on how popular you are and how much money people are willing to pay for your fashion lines.
Is it ever too late to become a fashion designer?
While it is never too late to become a fashion designer, you should know that it can take quite a long time to build your reputation in this field and the sooner you start, the more likely it will be that you will reach a certain level of popularity as a fashion designer and can start your own business around that.
Do fashion designers have to quit their careers early?
Since fashion design doesn’t involve heavy physical work, most fashion designers don’t have to quit their careers early but will rather be able to work in their fields for quite a long time while construction workers and other people who have to work in a physical manner will often have to give up their jobs early due to health reasons.
What is the most challenging thing about working as a fashion designer?
The most challenging thing about being a fashion designer is that you always have to come up with new ideas so that your audience doesn’t get bored with your clothing and it can be really hard to maintain this high level of creativity for many years or even decades.
Can you provide for your family by working as a fashion designer?
If you are willing to work hard and build a strong personal brand, you will also be able to make really good money and can easily provide for your family.
However, as an average fashion designer, your income will often not be enough to provide for your family and your partner may also have to work so that you have two salaries to live from.
Will fashion designers suffer from old-age poverty?
Whether you will suffer from old-age poverty as a fashion designer or not greatly depends on how well you are able to deal with money.
If you save and invest your money wisely, you will most likely not get into serious financial trouble once you get older while designers who can’t handle money will often have to deal with old-age poverty and may no longer be able to pay their bills.
Can fashion designers retire early?
Most fashion designers are not able to retire early since they simply don’t make enough money to do so.
In turn, you will often have to work in your job until you reach retirement age in your 60s while other people who work as doctors, investment bankers or lawyers will often be able to retire in their 50s or even 40s.
Do fashion designers get a fixed or variable salary?
Most fashion designers get a fixed salary with a small variable component.
However, once you climb the ladder or even have your own fashion label, your income will greatly depend on your performance which is usually measured by how many sales you make with your fashion collection.
Can you get rich as a fashion designer?
Getting rich as a fashion designer is pretty hard.
While it might be possible, most designers will never get to this stage and will rather make a decent salary without having the opportunity to build enough wealth to ever be considered rich by objective measures.
Do fashion designers need a second job?
Most designers don’t need a second job to pay their bills since they simply make enough money from their day job.
In turn, designers will have more than enough leisure to spend on the things they like even more than working.
Do you get continuous training as a fashion designer?
While you will learn lots of theoretical knowledge in college, you will learn many practical skills on the job as a fashion designer.
However, once you get to a certain level, you will no longer get continuous training but will rather be responsible for honing your skills on your own.
Do you get paid when you are sick as a fashion designer?
Whether you get sick pay as a designer greatly depends on the company you work for and also on the respective state or region.
If you are not sure about this, you should ask experts in this field in your region or also have a look at your working contract before you sign it.
Do fashion designers have a high level of responsibility?
Fashion designers don’t have a high level of responsibility.
While their mistakes may ruin fashion collections, they will still not have the same level of responsibility compared to someone whose mistakes can take away the lives of people.
Can fashion designers work abroad?
Fashion designers are able to work all around the world.
Especially if you have already build a strong personal brand, you will be able to work wherever you want and will be able to relocate in case you are no longer in line with political attitudes in your region.
Is it stressful to work as a fashion designer?
Working as a fashion designer is not that stressful.
While you might have a lot to do during times when you have to finalize fashion ranges, you will have a rather relaxed life for most of the year and will not often be overwhelmed by the workload you have to accomplish.
Is it boring to work as a fashion designer?
Being a fashion designer will never get boring if you are passionate about what you are doing.
In fact, if you really like designing clothes, you will not be bored but rather excited to get back to work and to act out your high level of creativity.
Is being a fashion designer hard?
It is also not that hard to work as a fashion designer since you will have free weekends, don’t have to work at nighttime and you will also not have to deal with lots of stress at work.
Consequently, there are much harder jobs out there compared to working in fashion design.
Are fashion designers at risk of burnout?
Most designers are not at great risk of burnout since they really love what they are doing for a living and if you love the process rather than what your job pays you, you will always stay happy with what you are doing, even during stressful times and your risk of burnout will therefore be rather low.
Is there a dress code for fashion designers?
There is no dress code for fashion designers.
Every designer will be free to wear what he or she wants and designers often also have their own style and attitude that they want to express when they are in public to build reputation and brand in the long run.
What kind of fashion designers are paid the most?
The higher the price point of the clothes you design, the more you can make as a fashion designer.
You will also earn more money if the world knows who you are compared to the average designer that will be barely recognized by the general public.
Hence, if you really want to make good money as a fashion designer, you should build a strong personal brand early in your life.
What percentage of fashion designers are women?
Around 74% of all fashion designers are women while only around a quarter of fashion designers are men.
Thus, while this industry is still dominated by women, you can still succeed as a male fashion designer if you are talented enough and also willing to work hard.
Do I need a mentor to succeed as a fashion designer?
Having a mentor can really help you boost your career as a fashion designer.
However, you should not only rely on a mentor but you should also try to build your own personal brand to become independent of other people who may not have your best interest at heart soon.
Will you be personally liable for mistakes as a fashion designer?
As an employed fashion designer, you will not be personally liable for mistakes most of the time.
However, if you still want to be on the safe side, you may want to get proper insurance in this regard to be covered in case of emergency.
Do fashion designers have a high life expectancy?
Since fashion designers have a decent work-life balance and also don’t have to work at nighttime, they are able to live a relatively healthy life.
Consequently, life expectancy of designers is higher compared to the average person out there.
Do fashion designers suffer from sleeping problems?
Since fashion designers don’t have to work at nighttime, they will also rarely suffer from sleeping problems related to their job.
Consequently, most fashion designers sleep quite well and can avoid diseases related to sleep deprivation.
What states are best for working as a fashion designer?
As a designer, you should pick states with a long fashion tradition and also states with many fashion shows and people who are interested in fashion in general.
While New York will be a good place for working as a fashion designer, rather rural regions in Texas would not be great for starting a fashion designer career.
Who do fashion designers work with?
Fashion designers work with their design team but will rarely deal with their actual customers.
Hence, you should still have good people skills to make your design team do what you expect it to do to make your fashion designs a success.
Is working as a fashion designer cool?
Working as a fashion designer is considered cool by the general public.
However, male fashion designers still have to deal with lots of snarky comments since people are still not tolerant enough to accept male fashion designers in many regions of our planet.
Can you start a side hustle as a fashion designer?
Since fashion designers are often pretty creative, it is also quite easy for them to make money on the side.
For instance, you could start a YouTube channel or blog and talk about fashion. In turn, you can build a huge audience in the long run and can monetize this audience later.
Do you have to be creative as a fashion designer?
You need a high level of creativity to succeed as a designer in the long run.
Otherwise, your clothes would just be quite boring and nobody would buy your stuff.
Hence, don’t choose a fashion designer career if you just want to work in a pretty standardized manner.
How employable are fashion designers?
Fashion designers are pretty employable.
However, your level of employability also greatly depends on your skills and on how well you are able to market your brand.
Thus, whether you are able to make a good living from your designer career greatly depends on how much work you are willing to put into it and how talented you are in general.
Are fashion designers happy with their jobs?
Most fashion designers are pretty happy with what they are doing since they have free weekends, holidays and also don’t have to work many extra hours while they can still make decent money and spend their workday with the things they are passionate about.
Is working as a fashion designer exciting?
Working as a fashion designer can be pretty exciting, especially if you are a brave person who always wants to reinvent yourself.
In such a case, your workstyle will change quite often and adjusting to those changes can be really intimidating but also exciting since you will always do something new and unexpected.
What are the pros and cons of working as a fashion designer?
If you are still not sure whether you should become a designer, you may also want to have a look at the pros and cons of a fashion designer career.
Interviews and own research.
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.
This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.
Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.
I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.
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