What Kind of Education Do You Need to Become a Fashion Designer?

If you’re thinking about pursuing a career in fashion, one of the first things you’ll need to decide is what kind of degree to get. If you’re still in high school or in the first year or two of college, you’ll have more options than people who decide later on in life that they want a career in fashion. The bottom line is that you should get a degree of some kind--don’t expect to get a job in the fashion industry straight out of high school. But what kind of degree you get depends on a few different factors. Read on to learn the pros and cons of getting an associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degree in a fashion-related field.

Associate’s Degree

Some people opt to get an associate’s degree in fashion instead of a bachelor’s degree because they think they’ll be able to get a head start on their career. While it’s true that they may begin working a full-time job in fashion sooner than someone who chooses to pursue a four-year bachelor’s degree, it’s likely that they’ll hit a snag in their career at some point not too far down the road; most jobs in fashion, be they design, marketing, or textile development jobs, require a bachelor’s degree. It might be hard to advance past junior-level positions in a company without one.

Bachelor’s Degree

Most jobs in fashion design require a bachelor’s degree in something fashion-related, such as fashion or apparel design, textile design, or fashion merchandising. And even if a job description doesn’t specify a major, the vast majority of fashion-related jobs will require a bachelor’s degree in something.

Begin by choosing a major that you know will qualify you for jobs you want. If you go to a university with many fashion-related majors, choose one that will give you the most experience in the sub-field of fashion you’re interested in. If you want to be a fashion designer, for example, you should get a degree in Fashion Design. If you want to work in the business of fashion, get a degree in Fashion Marketing or Fashion Merchandising. If you want to be a fashion critic, get a degree in Fashion Journalism.

If you go to a university without fashion-related degrees, you can still get a degree that will help you get your first job in fashion. If you want to be a fashion designer, get a degree in Studio Art or Graphic Design. If you want to work in the business of fashion, get a degree in Business or Marketing. If you want to be a fashion critic, get a degree in English or Journalism. You can compensate for your lack of fashion-specific coursework and experience by getting jobs and internships in the fashion industry while you’re still in college.

Master’s Degree

Master’s degrees aren’t usually required for jobs in the fashion industry. Unless you’re applying for a management position at a fashion company, in which case an MBA or a master’s in the Business of Fashion might be a requirement, most employers will care more about your work experience than they will about any education beyond a bachelor’s degree. That being said, there are some benefits to getting a master’s degree in fashion: if you have the money and desire, a master’s in a fashion-related field of study can help you specialize. If you got a bachelor’s in studio art, for example, going back to school and getting a master’s degree in Fashion Design or Textiles can make you attractive to a wider range of employers.

Another reason to get a master’s in a fashion-related field is that graduate programs generally give you ample opportunities for internships and field-learning experiences. This can be a great way to get work experience or work on your portfolio, both of which can help you get a job in fashion when you graduate.


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