What Career Can I Have with a Degree in Fashion Design?

So, you want to get a degree in fashion design, but you’re teetering on the edge as to whether or not it’s a good idea. After all, your parents keep dropping not-so-subtle hints that you’ll end up broke and living on the streets if you do. Society tends to shy away from creatively based degrees due to the “struggling artist” mentality. True, it’s a cut-throat world in fashion. There are plenty of justified reasons why others may try to discourage you from taking the leap. This industry is competitive; employment can be hard to come by. Before you make any rash life decisions, it’s important to weigh out your potential career paths with such a degree. Here are 5 different potential career paths in the fashion industry to consider.

Fashion Design Degree Mannequin

The Most Popular Path

Being a fashion designer sounds very glamourous. Many who enter the field envision a life of designing for glitzy Hollywood stars. If you want to get really hands-on with designing, you’ll need a strong portfolio. Having prior work experience certainly pays off. Internships and apprenticeships are also a great way to kickstart your resume.

Fashion Design Degree Supplies

Two Kinds of Fashion Designers:

The In-house Fashion Designer:

In-house designers work exclusively for fashion companies. They design clothing and accessories according to company guidelines and aesthetics. These are salary-based jobs where the company will own all rights to your designs. Depending on the scale of the company, you may work in a team environment or go solo. If you want to work among the likes of companies such as Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, and Prada, being an in-house designer is your best bet.

The Freelance Fashion Designer:

As you can imagine by the title, freelancers work for themselves. They design and sell their work to fashion houses, shops, or manufacturers. If you are able to scale your business, people may come to you for commissioned designed work. You own the rights to your designs unless you sign them off elsewhere on your own terms. Although being a freelance fashion designer has its perks, like work hour flexibility and higher wage demands, it’s a tough path to take. Financial stability is at high risk. When you’re just starting out, working in-house is most ideal before attempting a freelance career on your own.

Fashion Blogger Designer

Other Fashion Design Degree Careers

Most people stepping into a degree in fashion design initially anticipate being a designer themselves. That being said, along the way you may find it’s not quite right for you. Sometimes changing your degree or taking on a new concentration or minor can help redirect you. Fashion merchandizing, accessory design, and fashion stylist degrees are all great options as well. Below are three more career paths you can take with fashion design or design-related degree:

Fashion Buyer Shopping Career

Fashion Buyer

As a Fashion Buyer, you will be responsible for buying suitable fashions for boutiques or department stores. This job often requires travel, so expect to jump from city to city during buying periods. The knowledge you gain from your fashion design degree will help you predict upcoming trends in the market. Identifying quality will also come easy to you, giving you an edge in pursuing this career path.

Fashion Design Degree Photoshoot

Fashion Writer/Journalist

In this career path, you will be writing newsworthy articles about different areas of fashion in the industry. You may work as a freelancer, but ideally working directly under a company will give you a steadier paycheck. Websites like Bustle occasionally hire fashion writers, so keep an eye out for potential openings. Beware though, this path is highly competitive. In the age of the internet, companies are likely to receive hundreds or even thousands of applications. If you have a second degree or minor in journalism, English, or even Marketing, you will have an advantage above your competition. Building your portfolio with our own fashion blog is also a great way to kickstart your paper trail.

High Fashion Design Degree Photoshoot

Fashion Stylist or Personal Shopper

Perhaps the most niche and hardest among the final three we have discussed is being a Fashion Stylist or Personal Shopper. This career path doesn’t necessarily require an actual degree to pursue, although it can be very helpful given how niche this market is. Sometimes, a certification will suffice. There are numerous approaches to either of these paths, and they often can go hand-in-hand. Styling for photo or video shoots is on option. Alternatively, working one-on-one with clients directly is another option as well. You will build your own business and your clients will need to be high profile and wealthy. The average person cannot afford to pay someone else to do all of this for them. If neither of these options suits you, being an in-house stylist for a fashion shop or brand may be your best bet.

Fancy Cocktail Fashion Design Dresses

What if I Can’t Land a Fashion Job?

If you have seemingly exhausted all of your options after graduating with your fashion design degree, not all is lost. Revamping your portfolio, expanding your skill sets, and reading up on new topics can benefit you greatly. Make sure to continue to build your portfolio as much as you can. If you need to take up several internships overtime, do it. Try to freelance where you can, as this will help build your portfolio as well. Employers judge candidates mostly based on their portfolios above all else. This is something that no résumé, job experiences or testimonials can fully replace.

It’s a cut-throat industry, and the job market is more difficult than ever. The number one thing you need to remember is this: comparison is the thief of joy. As hard as it may be, refrain from comparing yourself to your peers or big-wig industry professionals. Do whatever you need to in order to make ends meet and work hard toward reaching your career goals. Your career with a fashion design degree is a journey, not a race.


Interested in reading more about fashion design? Visit our blog to read interviews with blooming designers who were once in your shoes!