Online Fashion Degrees and Programs
Glamorized by television shows such as "Project Runway," careers in fashion design require an eye for detail, artistic ability, business acumen and technical skills. In addition to design, the fashion industry offers opportunities in marketing, merchandising and journalism.
The fashion industry is about more than just pretty clothes--it's a fast-paced, often cutthroat business that is largely reliant upon consumer behavior. Fashion design, which includes clothing, footwear and accessory design, is a highly competitive field that tends to attract people who are creative and artistically inclined but who also have finely tuned technical skills.
Design isn't the only career choice in this industry. Fashion degrees offer opportunities to combine a love of clothing and fashion with a talent for marketing, writing or business, resulting in such careers as fashion merchandising, fashion buying, journalism, public relations or retail management.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists the median annual wage for fashion designers in 2010 as $64,530, with entry-level salaries beginning at $32,500 and the top 10 percent of earners making more than $130,890. Among the other occupations related to fashion design, public relations specialists earned a mean annual salary in 2010 of $59,150.
Careers in the fashion industry increasingly require technical savvy as well as artistic creativity. Online studies may offer the chance to gain technological experience with software such as computer-based fashion design programs.
Another career related to fashion is that of marketing manager. The Department of Labor's O*NET website describes these professionals as using analytical software, online advertising reporting applications, customer relationship management software and project management programs. Reporters, including fashion correspondents, make use of an array of high-tech tools, including databases, graphics programs, and web page creation and editing software.
Fashion degree programs may include coursework in subjects like marketing, textile design, visual merchandising, fashion and graphic design, sewing, pattern-making, the history of fashion, computer-aided design, and consumer behavior. Academic and training programs are available at many levels.
Certificate or diploma programs generally have no prerequisites and offer opportunities such as these:
- Chance to learn core fashion-related skills
- Enhancement for an existing fashion career
- Foundation for a degree program
Associate degree programs usually require a high school diploma and consist of a two-year program, or the credit equivalent of two years. This is a chance to get a taste of several facets of the fashion industry. Programs could prepare students for an entry-level job in fashion, or for a more advanced degree.
Bachelor's degree programs last four years or the credit equivalent of four years. Programs can prepare students for entry-level or more advanced positions. More in-depth coursework allows students to create and flesh out professional portfolios.
Master's degree programs require a bachelor's degree for entry and offer advanced coursework in a professional environment. These courses are often designed for those who might wish to work in fashion marketing or merchandising.
- Salary: Median annual wage for fashion designers in 2010 was $64,530 (BLS)
- Geography: Most U.S. fashion designers are employed in industry hubs such as New York and California
- Career options: Clothing design, accessory design, footwear design, merchandising, marketing, retail, journalism