CareerExplorer’s step-by-step guide on how to become a fashion designer.

Step 1

Is becoming a fashion designer right for me?

The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:

What do fashion designers do?
Career Satisfaction
Are fashion designers happy with their careers?
What are fashion designers like?

Still unsure if becoming a fashion designer is the right career path? to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become a fashion designer or another similar career!

Described by our users as being “shockingly accurate”, you might discover careers you haven’t thought of before.

Step 2

High School

If you're interested in becoming a fashion designer, there are several high school courses that can help you develop the skills you need to succeed in this industry. Here are some courses you may want to consider:

  • Art and Design: Courses in art and design can help you develop your creativity and design skills. You may learn about color theory, composition, and other design principles.
  • Sewing and Textiles: Sewing and textiles courses can teach you how to work with fabrics, patterns, and sewing machines. You may learn how to create basic garments or accessories.
  • Fashion Merchandising: Fashion merchandising courses can help you understand the business side of the fashion industry. You may learn about marketing, retail management, and fashion forecasting.
  • Marketing and Business: Courses in marketing and business can help you develop the skills you need to promote your designs and run a successful fashion business.
  • Computer-Aided Design (CAD): CAD courses can teach you how to use software programs like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to create digital designs and patterns.
  • History of Fashion: Studying the history of fashion can help you understand the evolution of fashion and the role it plays in society.
  • Communications: Effective communication skills are essential in the fashion industry. Courses in public speaking, writing, and interpersonal communication can help you develop these skills.
Step 3

Formal Education Steps

If you're interested in becoming a fashion designer, there are several formal education steps you can take to develop the skills and knowledge you need to succeed in this industry. Here are some common steps you may want to consider:

  • Earn a Bachelor's Degree: Most fashion designers have a Bachelor's Degree in Fashion Design, Fashion Merchandising, or a related field. These programs typically take four years to complete and provide students with a strong foundation in design principles, garment construction, textiles, and business.
  • Complete an Internship: Many fashion design programs require students to complete an internship before graduating. Internships provide students with valuable hands-on experience in the fashion industry and can help them make connections with industry professionals.
  • Develop a Portfolio: A portfolio of your work is essential for showcasing your design skills to potential employers or clients. Your portfolio should include sketches, photos of finished garments, and any other relevant work you've done.
  • Consider a Master's Degree: While not necessary for all fashion design careers, a Master's Degree in Fashion Design or a related field can provide students with advanced design skills, research experience, and the opportunity to specialize in a specific area of fashion.
  • Gain Work Experience: After completing your education, gaining work experience in the fashion industry is crucial for building your skills and reputation. You may start out as an assistant designer or work in another related role before eventually moving up to a designer position.

Remember, there are many different paths to becoming a successful fashion designer. Formal education is just one of them, and there are plenty of successful designers who are self-taught or who have taken a different educational path. The most important thing is to be passionate, hardworking, and willing to learn and grow throughout your career.

Step 4


Internships are an excellent way for fashion designers to gain valuable hands-on experience and make connections in the industry. Here are some tips on finding and applying for fashion design internships:

  • Research Fashion Companies: Start by researching fashion companies that align with your interests and career goals. Look for companies that offer internships in the areas you're interested in, such as design, merchandising, or production.
  • Check Company Websites: Check the websites of the companies you're interested in to see if they have any internship opportunities listed. If not, reach out to their HR or recruitment departments to inquire about any available positions.
  • Utilize Internship Websites: There are many websites, such as, that specialize in connecting students and recent graduates with internship opportunities in a variety of industries, including fashion.
  • Network: Networking is a crucial part of the fashion industry. Attend industry events, connect with professionals on social media, and reach out to alumni from your fashion program for advice and potential internship leads.
  • Prepare Your Application: When applying for fashion design internships, be sure to tailor your resume, cover letter, and portfolio to the specific company and position you're applying for. Highlight any relevant coursework, experience, or skills that make you a strong candidate.
  • Follow Up: After submitting your application, follow up with the company to express your continued interest and inquire about the status of your application. This shows your enthusiasm and commitment to the position.

Remember, fashion design internships are competitive, so it's important to start your search early and apply to multiple opportunities. Even if you don't land your dream internship right away, any experience you gain in the industry will be valuable for your future career.

Step 5

Employment Opportunities

As a fashion designer, there are various employers who may be interested in hiring you. Here are some potential employer opportunities for fashion designers:

  • Fashion Houses: High-end fashion houses, such as Chanel, Dior, and Gucci, are always looking for talented designers to create their latest collections. These companies offer the opportunity to work on high-profile projects and build a strong reputation in the industry.
  • Fashion Brands: Many fashion brands, such as J.Crew, Ralph Lauren, and H&M, have in-house design teams that create their clothing and accessories lines. These companies may offer more stable employment and the opportunity to work on a wide range of design projects.
  • Textile and Fabric Manufacturers: Textile and fabric manufacturers hire designers to create unique patterns and designs for their fabrics. These designers may work with the company's clients to create custom fabrics for their specific needs.
  • Retail Companies: Retail companies, such as department stores and specialty shops, hire designers to create and promote their merchandise. Designers in these roles may work on everything from clothing and accessories to visual merchandising displays.
  • Costume and Theater Companies: Costume and theater companies hire designers to create costumes and wardrobe pieces for film, television, and stage productions. These roles offer the opportunity to work on creative projects and collaborate with other designers and production professionals.
  • Freelance Work: Many fashion designers work as freelancers, taking on projects from a variety of clients. This offers the opportunity to work on a diverse range of projects and have more control over your schedule and workload.
Step 6

Online Resources

There are many great online resources available for fashion designers. Here are some suggestions:

  • WGSN: WGSN is a leading trend forecasting company that offers insights and analysis on fashion trends, colors, fabrics, and more.
  • Vogue Runway: Vogue Runway provides extensive coverage of fashion shows and designer collections from around the world, including photos and reviews.
  • The Business of Fashion: The Business of Fashion is a website that covers news, analysis, and intelligence on the global fashion industry.
  • Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) Online Courses: FIT offers a range of online courses for fashion designers, including courses on fashion design, merchandising, and marketing.
  • Pinterest: Pinterest is a great resource for fashion designers looking for inspiration and ideas. You can create mood boards, save images, and follow other designers and influencers.
  • Skillshare: Skillshare offers a wide range of online courses on fashion design, pattern making, illustration, and more.
  • Fashionary: Fashionary is a company that produces sketchbooks and other tools for fashion designers, including templates for fashion figures and technical drawings.
  • Fashion Network: Fashion Network is a website that provides news and analysis on the fashion industry, including information on trends, events, and key players.
  • The Fashion Spot: The Fashion Spot is a website that provides fashion news, runway coverage, and industry insights.
  • The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA): The CFDA is a non-profit organization that provides support and resources for fashion designers, including networking opportunities, mentorship programs, and educational resources.
Step 7


There are several certifications available for fashion designers. It is important to note that certifications are not always necessary for a career in fashion design, but they can be a great way to demonstrate expertise and gain a competitive edge in the job market. Here are a few examples:

  • Certified Fashion Designer (CFD): The Certified Fashion Designer program is offered by the International Association of Professions Career College. This certification program provides students with a solid foundation in fashion design, including pattern making, draping, and sewing techniques.
  • Professional Certification in Apparel Design and Production: This certification is offered by the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences. The program covers a wide range of topics, including fashion illustration, pattern making, garment construction, and textile science.
  • Textile and Apparel Certification: The Textile and Apparel Certification program is offered by the American Society of Textile Chemists and Colorists. This certification is designed for professionals working in the textile and apparel industry and covers topics such as textile manufacturing, dyeing and finishing, and quality control.
  • Certified Fashion Professional (CFP): The Certified Fashion Professional program is offered by the Fashion Business Inc. This certification is designed for professionals working in the fashion industry and covers a wide range of topics, including fashion marketing, merchandising, and branding.
  • Fashion Industry Essentials: Fashion Industry Essentials is a certificate program offered by Parsons School of Design in collaboration with Teen Vogue. This program covers the fundamentals of the fashion industry, including trend forecasting, product development, and marketing.
  • Certified Fashion Industry Analyst (CFIA): The Certified Fashion Industry Analyst program is offered by the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). This certification is designed for professionals working in the fashion industry who want to improve their analytical skills and knowledge of the industry.