During the application process, the question that gets asked most to New York School of Design admissions advisors is if a degree is needed to become a fashion designer. Both students fresh out of college and those looking to make a career change are hesitant to spend tens of thousands of dollars and two to four years in college if it’s not absolutely necessary.
There is good news for those looking to save time or money - a degree is not necessary to become a fashion designer!
What do you need to embark on a fashion design career?
Technical skills and design knowledge
Evidence of strong technical schools in the form of a portfolio is going to be a big part of getting your foot in the door of the fashion design industry. Drawing, Photoshop, and Illustrator are all skills that are expected of fashion designers. Additionally, employers will want to know that you have knowledge of texture, color, and fabric in order to determine what color combinations are flattering and whether a certain type of fabric will work for a garment. And while you may not be constructing the garments yourself, it's important for designers to have proficiency in sewing, draping, and patternmaking.
If you find yourself lacking in technical skills, enrolling in a fashion design certificate program can help you develop the knowledge you need in less time and for less money than a degree granting program.
Besides technical skills, experience in and knowledge of the fashion industry will go a long way in helping you get a design job without a degree. Internships are a great way to gain experience working in the fashion design field and aren’t just open for those in a degree granting program.
In addition to experience, internships can help you gain valuable connections for your future job hunt. Take some of our tips to land a great internship and add something impressive to your resume.
The right attitude
Having superb sewing and CAD skills and some good experience might get you in the door, but having the right attitude is what will help grow your fashion design career. You aren't going to enter the industry as the next Alexander McQueen or Stella McCartney, so don't bring that sort of ego.
Be ready to work hard and realize that becoming a fashion designer means you will constantly be learning and evolving in your craft.
Did you become a fashion designer without a degree? What tips do you have for aspiring designers?