The fashion design business is an interesting mix of showmanship and industry, of the art of design and the science of production and sales. There is much that happens behind the runway. It is important to understand that in the United States, the fashion industry is based in two locations: New York City and Los Angeles. Most of the true fashion jobs are located there; however there are tens of thousands of positions that require knowledge of the industry but do not require an apartment in Manhattan or residence and a car in Los Angeles.

Fashion Design Degrees

Most people entering the fashion design field obtain an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in the field. Many of the degrees that are offered combine some business component with the design element, since the purpose of new fashion designs is to sell clothes. Often degrees are in fashion design and merchandising. Others incorporate elements of the retail business into the curriculum. Traditionally the degrees in this field have come from art and design institutes, although there are many schools outside the arts orbit that now offer fashion design programs. There are also design schools that now offer online degrees in the field.

Aside from the business component, the curriculum in fashion design includes the study of various textiles and fabrics, their uses and manufacturing quirks. Pattern making and the application of sewing techniques is taught, although much of the clothing manufacturing for this country is now located offshore. Fashion design students also learn how to use CAD programs so that they can replicate design concepts in 3D on a computer.

Jobs in the Industry

Students who graduate from one of the fashion design schools may find employment working for a designer as an understudy. These are traditional “apprenticeship” roles and there are still some opportunities there, although it is a small part of the job market. New arrivals in a fashion design firm may be called on to sketch out a concept that a designer is describing, or take a sketch that has been provided and make a computer image from it.

Most people in the industry work for wholesale manufacturers of clothing, or in corporate purchasing departments for chain stores or in design service firms. Many work their way into the merchandising arm of clothing chain store operators. There is a small job market in the entertainment industry. And there is also a market for fashion design in mid market businesses such as wedding dress design and production. Almost a quarter of all fashion designers are self employed, so there is a market for local consulting in the business.

The true fashion design business is a small and highly competitive market for jobs. However retail clothing establishments value floor employees that have a sense for or knowledge of fashion, and many fashion graduates take entry level jobs in high end clothing chains in order to work their way into management positions.

Author's Bio: 

Bob Hartzell writes about education and careers for several websites