How to Become a Fashion Designer in 4 Simple Steps

What is a Fashion Designer

There are a lot of different aspects to how to being a fashion designer.

They sketch designs, follow fashion trends, and play an important role in the organizing and running of fashion events. They also use their creative eye to design and select clothing that meets the fashion requirements of the client’s needs.

Continue reading and learn how to become a fashion designer.

What Does a Fashion Designer Do?

Fashion designers are involved in both current, fast-moving events, such as keeping up with the latest fashion trends and styling wardrobes.

As well as being involved in long-term projects, such as seeing their designs go through the manufacturing process, or planning for a large annual fashion event.

It’s a job role that is usually pursued out of interest or passion for fashion, not the kind of role someone finds themselves involved in.

Fashion shows are commonplace as they are the showcase for the work of designers. The designers will typically be involved in almost every aspect of a fashion show to ensure it runs as smoothly as possible.

Like most industries, modern developments are leading on computer software more and more.

It’s skill common for designers to sketch out their designs by hand as the ideas are flowing, but putting the design together with a software package is also part of the role.

To turn sketches into items of clothing the designer has to communicate their vision to their helpers, as well as being involved in sewing and stitching the fabrics themselves.

There will typically be a lot of adjustments and modifications made to outfits on short notice.

Some fashion designers work in specific areas of fashion, such as footwear, men’s, women’s, accessories etc.

Many designers will release their own line of clothing and accessories after they have built up a large portfolio.

The average salary of a fashion designer is $72,720.

Desirable Skills of a Fashion Designer

If you are looking to become a fashion designer, as with any role there are some skills and abilities that will help you enter the industry easier and be more successful. Some skills are intuitive, some are learned, and some are natural. Here are some of the important skill sets and areas to consider when looking to become a fashion designer:

Excellent Coordination

Fashion shows are typically chaotic and fast-paced shows with models and clothing changes to coordinate under time pressure. Good coordination skills are incredibly important, otherwise a fashion show can easily get out of control.

Good Communication Skills

With coordination comes communication. Being able to clearly communicate where and when models should be, what is required from suppliers, and how clothing needs to be arranged is almost a daily part of the job for some designers.

Creative Flair

Fashion is a method of expression a vision and telling a story. It’s more than just clothes and looking good to the people behind the designs. Having a natural creative flair and eye for detail will be a huge asset when working as a fashion designer, although they are skills that can be developed over time too.

Passion for their Work

Fashion is such an expressive and personal industry. A designers work is put on display for the whole world to see and judged. Having a passion for fashion and being invested in the role will bring out the best in a designer.

What is a Fashion Designer

Becoming a Fashion Designer

Step 1: High School Requirements

High School Courses for Fashion Designers


While math isn’t the typical course that someone will recommend when you tell them that you want to be a fashion designer, good grades in math will help you get accepted at the college of your choice. Also mastering basic math will help you with the measurements for your designs.

Art & Design

While there is no doubt that the future of fashion design in computer based, a solid foundation of traditional design school will be useful for your college and your job after. A lot of schools offer classes in art history, color and art theory. These classes will help you build your skills and start making designs and drawings.


While an artistic background is necessary, if you want to make a living today as an artist you need to have a solid understanding of you business work. Classes like economics, business law and marketing will make you understand how market works and hopefully help you a survive in a really competitive industry.

Step 2: Get an Undergraduate Degree

Fashion Designer Certificate Program 4 months – 1 year

Fashion Designer Certificate programs are designed to prepare students for entry level positions in fashion design field. They last from 4 months to a year and consist of 30 – 35 semester credit hours. The admission requirements are a high school diploma or a GED.

Core Courses (25 – 30 credits)

  • Textiles
  • Introduction to Fashion Careers
  • Sewing for Fashion Design II
  • Fashion Sewing — Advanced
  • Wearable Art
  • Advanced Dressmaking & Custom Sewing
  • Flat Pattern Design
  • Draping Fashion Designs
  • Apparel Selection
  • Fashion Trends and Cultural Costumes
  • Internship
  • Cooperative Work Experience: Fashion
  • Fashion Apparel and Professional Techniques
  • Fashion Illustration
  • Special Events Participation
  • Fashion in Southern California
  • The Digital Fashion Image
  • Understanding Apparel Principals — AIMS Certification
  • Apparel Cart: Fashion Retailing Online with Easy Cart Shop

Electives (5 credits)

  • Construction Lab
  • Designer’s Lab
  • Couture Lab
  • Costumer’s Lab
  • Dressmaking Lab
  • Tailor’s Lab

The cost of a fashion design certificate program is $4,860 – $17,425.

Fashion Design Associate’s Degree Program Length – 2 years

Associate’s degree programs in fashion design are two year programs consisting of 60 to 70 semester credit hours. The admission requirements are a high school diploma or a GED.


  • Design Studio I – Introduction to Draping
  • Materials and Construction I
  • Visual Design Concepts I
  • Digital Design Studio
  • Textile Principles for the Fashion Designer
  • Mathematics
  • Art History
  • Fashion Research and Inspiration
  • Design Studio II – Soft Draping
  • Materials and Construction II
  • Fashion Art Studio
  • Life Drawing
  • Humanities
  • Apparel Design Studio – Pattern making
  • Design Studio III – Structured Draping
  • Visual Design Concepts III
  • Digital Design: Flats and Floats
  • Social Sciences
  • The Arts
  • Design Studio IV: Advanced Draping
  • Design Development: Digital Communication & Management
  • Visual Design Concepts IV
  • Model Visualization Techniques
  • Design Collections: Visual Solutions
  • Portfolio Collection
  • Social Sciences

The cost of a fashion design associate’s degree program is $27,150 – $63,160.

Fashion Design Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree Program 4 years

Bachelor of fine arts in fashion design degree programs have curriculum that offer students exposure to product development, fashion business practices and entrepreneurship. They are 4 year programs and consist of 120 to 180 semester credit hours. The admission requirements are a high school diploma with a GPA over 3.0 and a SAT of at least 980.


Foundations Courses (30 credits)

  • Drawing I: Form and Space
  • Life Drawing I
  • Drawing II: Composition and Media
  • Color: Theory and Application
  • Design I: Elements and Organization
  • Design II: 3-D Form in Space

General Education Requirements (55 credits)

  • Survey of Western Art I
  • Advanced Survey of Computer Art Applications
  • Survey of Western Art II
  • Composition
  • Survey of Computer Art Applications
  • Speaking of Ideas

Core Courses (85 credits)

  • Overview of Fashion Industry
  • Fundamentals of Design I
  • Visualization and Drawing Techniques
  • Pattern Making and Sewing Techniques I
  • Color Techniques
  • Communication Skills
  • History of Art, Design and Fashion I
  • Fundamentals of Design II
  • Design Process
  • Pattern Making and Sewing Techniques II
  • Fashion Illustration I
  • Mini Project I
  • History of Art, Design and Fashion II
  • Textiles
  • Creative Design
  • Pattern Making and Sewing Techniques III
  • Fashion Illustration II
  • Digital Designing
  • History of Art, Design and Fashion III
  • Fabric Processing and Surface Design
  • Prototype Development
  • Pattern Making and Sewing Techniques IV
  • Fashion Illustration III
  • History of Art, Design and Fashion IV
  • Fabric Processing and Surface Design II
  • Draping I
  • Pattern Making and Sewing Techniques V
  • Digital Fashion Illustration
  • Overview of Fashion Marketing
  • Fashion Forecasting
  • Draping II
  • Fashion Merchandising
  • Portfolio Development
  • Apparel Production Management
  • Apparel Grading
  • Computer Aided Designing I
  • Research Methodology
  • Overview of Accounting and Finance
  • Computer Aided Designing II
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Internship

The cost of a fashion design bachelor of fine arts degree program is $45,756 – $112,190.

Step 3: Get a Graduate Degree (Optional)

Master of Fine Arts in Fashion Degree Program 2 years

These programs prepare students to develop a historical and critical understanding of fashion by studying all the different cultures and identities. They last 2 years and consist of 42 to 90 semester hours.

The admission requirements are:

  • A bachelor a relevant field
  • A resume of your academic achievements and work experience
  • An autobiographic statement
  • An academic statement of interests
  • Two recommendation letters


  • Fashion and Accessory Sketching and Illustration
  • Fashion Design and Development
  • Contemporary Art
  • Forecasting and Business Trends
  • Fashion Materials and Structures
  • Art Criticism
  • Multimedia Communication for Fashion
  • Drawing and Illustration for the Fashion Designer
  • Computer-enhanced Fashion Design
  • Fashion Studio I: Directed Design Innovation
  • Fashion Promotion
  • Fashion Studio II: Exploring Multifaceted Design Aesthetics
  • Graduate Teaching Internship
  • Graduate Field Internship
  • Fashion Theory
  • Fashion M.F.A. Thesis I: Directed Studies
  • Fashion M.F.A. Thesis III: Exhibition and Documentation
  • Fashion M.F.A. Thesis II: Collection Development

The cost of a master of arts in fashion degree program is $72,109- $89,163.

Step 4: Do an Internship

No matter which type of degree you decide to pursue a really important factor to consider is if they offer an internship in their curriculum. In this industry that is really competitive a good way to enter the market is through an internship program offered through your college. You will probably work for a design firm or a company manufacturer and you will be able to observe how things work in a professional setting. You will also make contacts in the industry and put all the skills you have obtained through studying in real working conditions.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Fashion Designer and How Much Does it Cost?

Option 1 : Certificate

Degree Time Cost
Certificate 4 months to 12 months$4,860 – $17,425
Total 4 months to 12 months$4,860 – $17,425

Option 2 : Associate’s Degree

Degree Time Cost
Associates Degree2 years$27,150 – $63,160
Total 2 years $27,150 – $63,160

Option 3 : Bachelor’s Degree

Degree Time Cost
Bachelor’s 4 years$45,756-$112,190
Total 4 years$45,756-$112,190

Option 4 : Master’s Degree

DegreeTime Cost
Bachelor’s 4 years$45,756-$112,190
Master’s2 years$72,109- $89,163
Total6 years $117,865 – $201,353

Fashion Designer Training Video

Noel Griffith, Ph.D.
Noel Griffith is a Doctor of Philosophy with a strong interest in educational research. He has been an editor-in-chief of since 2014. Noel is an avid reader (non-fiction), enjoys good food, live theatre, and helping others make wiser career decisions.

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