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What can I do with a fashion degree?

A fashion degree is not just about learning the history and theories of fashion. It's also about hands-on work in the lab, where you create, experiment and bring your clothing ideas to life. A degree in fashion gives you a foundation, but your hands-on lab work is what creates the masterpiece. Variety and opportunity are some of the great aspects of fashion – there are so many career paths ready to be explored.

And hold onto your sewing kits, because the fashion job market is booming! The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 3% growth in the employment of fashion designers from 2019 to 2029. While that might not seem like much, remember that the fashion world is much more than just design.

There's a whole universe of roles in merchandising, marketing and retail, to name a few. The retail industry expects jobs to grow by 5%, which is faster than the average for all occupations! Fashion business is a bustling hive of opportunities just waiting for fashionistas like you to take the lead. So, grab your sketchbooks and start dreaming big because a career in fashion is not just stylish, it's also a smart move.

From garment research to product design, discover what fashion looks like at Central Michigan University. 

Can I make a career out of fashion?

Absolutely! Check out these lists of great fashion careers.

Jobs supporting product creation

  1. Fashion Designer, $70,557 national average: Fashion designers are the creative geniuses who design clothing, accessories and footwear. They sketch designs, select fabrics and patterns, and give instructions on how to make the products they design.
  2. Purchasing Agent, $75,120 median pay: Purchasing agents negotiate and purchase materials, products and services to meet a company's needs. In the fashion industry, they may work with suppliers to source fabrics or accessories for clothing production.
  3. Clothing Technologist/Textile Scientist, $111,645 national average: These professionals work with manufacturers and designers to develop new fabrics and materials for clothing. They conduct research and experiments to improve the performance of existing materials or create innovative ones.
  4. Entrepreneur, $66,000 average estimate for clothing-line owner: With a fashion degree, you can become an entrepreneur and start your own clothing line or boutique. This avenue requires not only creativity but also business skills such as budgeting, marketing, and supply-chain management.
  5. Fashion Consultant, $31,200 median pay: Fashion consultants provide expert advice to individuals or businesses looking to improve their style and fashion choices. They may offer services like personal shopping, wardrobe styling, image consulting and trend forecasting.
  6. Graphic Designer, $57,990 median pay: Graphic designers in the fashion industry use their skills to create visuals for advertising, marketing materials and product packaging. They may also design clothing tags, labels and logos for fashion brands.
  7. Jeweler, $47,140 median pay: Jewelry designers create unique and fashionable pieces such as rings, earrings and necklaces using precious metals, stones and other materials.
  8. Make-up Artist, $22,771 national average: Make-up artists in the fashion industry use their skills to enhance models' appearance for photoshoots, runway shows and events.
  9. Textile Designer, $65,521 national average: Textile designers create patterns or prints for fabrics used in clothing and accessories. They often work with design software and use traditional techniques like screen printing or weaving.
  10. Product Designer/Industrial Designer, $75,910 median pay: Product designers in the fashion industry use their creative skills to develop new products for clothing, accessories or footwear brands.
  11. Quality Assurance Manager, $43,900 median pay: Quality assurance managers ensure that products meet the brand's quality standards by conducting inspections and communicating with manufacturers to address any issues.

Jobs supporting product presentation

  1. Event Manager, $51,137 national average: Event managers plan and execute fashion shows, product launches and other industry events. They work closely with designers and brands to ensure the event runs smoothly and meets its objectives.
  2. Fashion Show Coordinator, $57,659 national average: These managers coordinate all aspects of a fashion show, including selecting models and clothing, setting up the stage and handling logistics. They work with designers to bring their vision to life on the runway.
  3. Fashion Stylist, $56,571: Fashion stylists collaborate with individuals, fashion houses and brands to create a particular look or theme. They are responsible for selecting outfits for photoshoots, events and public appearances, often coordinating with designers and photographers. Fashion stylists have a keen eye for fashion and a deep understanding of their client's needs, preferences and lifestyle.
  4. Photographer, $46,709 national average: Fashion photographers capture images of models, clothing and accessories for advertising campaigns, magazine spreads or fashion shows.
  5. Visual Merchandiser, $46,123 national average: Visual merchandisers use their creativity and knowledge of consumer behavior to design visually appealing displays in retail stores that showcase products and attract customers.

Jobs supporting promotion of fashion product

  1. Public Relations Officer, $72,915k: These specialists work to manage and enhance a positive public image for the brands they represent. They plan events, work with media representatives and work to maintain and enhance their client's reputation.
  2. Fashion Marketing Manager, $84,827: Fashion marketing specialists are the bridge between the designers and the public. They create marketing campaigns, manage brand image, conduct market research and create promotions to meet the target customer's needs and drive sales for fashion brands.
  3. Account Executive, $68,239 national average: Account executives work with designer brands and retail chains to promote sales. They coordinate ad campaigns to promote the product in all sorts of spaces – print, billboards, television, digital ads and much more.
  4. Social Media Manager, $48,610 national average: These professionals help maintain social media presence for fashion brands by creating engaging content and interacting with followers. They also use analytics to track and improve the brand's social media performance.
  5. E-commerce Manager, $64,944 national average: These managers oversee online sales for fashion brands and work to increase website traffic and optimize the customer experience.
  6. Brand Manager, $66,023 national average: The brand manager is pivotal in shaping and maintaining a fashion brand's image. They develop marketing strategies, collaborate with designers and marketing teams, and analyze market trends to increase brand awareness, loyalty and sales.
  7. Editor, $87,150 national average: Fashion editors oversee the content and layout of fashion magazines, websites or blogs. They work with designers to select and feature clothing trends, write articles and interview industry experts.
  8. Journalist, $52,737 national average: Fashion journalists cover stories related to the fashion industry, from trends and designers to events and controversies. They may work for magazines, newspapers or online publications.
  9. Merchandise Planner/Fashion Buyer, $81,597 national average: These professionals analyze sales data and market trends to determine what products a retail store should stock and how much inventory they need. This role requires strong analytical skills and knowledge of consumer behavior.
  10. Fashion Influencer, $74,157 national average: Social media fashion influencers collaborate with fashion brands to showcase products on their social media platforms and have a significant impact on consumer purchasing decisions.
  11. Market Research Analyst, $71.570 national average: Market researchers collect and analyze data on consumer behavior, market trends and competition to help fashion companies make strategic decisions.
  12. Design Director/Manager, $195,028 national average: This leadership role oversees the design team and ensures that their work aligns with the brand's vision. They may also be involved in product development and implementing marketing strategies.
  13. Apparel Product Development Manager, $125, 943 national average: Product managers oversee all aspects of a product's life cycle, from conception to launch and beyond. They work with designers, marketing teams and other departments to create successful products that meet consumer needs.
  14. Supply Chain Manager, $85,337 national average: These professionals manage the flow of supplies, materials and finished products from suppliers to retail stores or warehouses. They must have strong organizational and communication skills to coordinate multiple entities involved in the production process. 

Each of these roles is integral to the booming fashion industry. The hands-on experience you gain during your fashion merchandising degree can be a stepping stone to these exciting career paths. Remember, fashion isn't just about an eye for art, it's also about business and strategy!

What do you need to get a job in fashion?

Fashion is not just about sketching beautiful designs; it's about understanding fabrics, production processes and marketing strategies. To truly stand out from the crowd, you'll need to have more than a solid understanding of the fashion industry. You'll need to be able to apply your knowledge and show what you know.

Earning a degree in fashion merchandising will help you hone your skills and expose you to new ideas. Find a fashion merchandising and design program that offers a wide variety of hands-on experiences. That range of experience will shine through in your fashion portfolio – the piece employers want to see most.

In a hands-on program, you'll have the opportunity to engage with these aspects in a real-world context, making you a hot commodity in the competitive fashion market. Let's delve into some of the study options you can explore in your fashion merchandising journey.

  • Fashion Design
    • The heart and soul of the industry, fashion design is all about molding your creativity to shape trends and inspire styles. You'll learn about color theories, sketching designs and even the nitty-gritty of garment construction. It's your chance to bring your unique vision to life!
  • Fashion Buying 
    • If you've got an eye for style and a head for numbers, fashion buying could be your calling. It's all about predicting trends, budgeting and negotiation. You'll learn to balance the creative and business sides of fashion, making sure the latest styles hit the racks just when consumers are ready for them.
  • Visual Merchandising 
    • This is where artistry meets strategy. Visual merchandising involves creating engaging retail displays that attract customers, promote merchandise and enhance the shopping experience. It's a vital part of retail that can make or break a product's success. These are just a few avenues you can explore in the exciting world of fashion merchandising.

Look for hands-on experiences when studying fashion

Hands-on experience is crucial when studying fashion. It can give you a competitive edge, help you develop essential skills and prepare you for a successful career in the industry.

When choosing a program, look for opportunities to gain real-world experience, learn from experts, develop soft skills and stand out from the competition. It's important to find a program that offers hands-on experience that is relevant to the industry. Look for programs that offer internships, opportunities to work with industry partners and projects that mimic real-world scenarios.

So, future fashion gurus, while you're working towards that fashion degree, remember to seize every opportunity for hands-on experience. It might be just the edge you need to strut your way to success in the catwalk of the fashion industry.

Fashion degrees at Central Michigan University

Look to Central Michigan University for a nationally-accredited fashion design school in Michigan with a wealth of hands-on learning experiences. You can major or minor in Fashion Merchandising and Design, with your choice of five concentrations in the field:

  1. Fashion Buying
  2. Fashion Design
  3. Fashion Merchandising
  4. Product Development
  5. Visual Merchandising

If graduate studies is the right path for you, consider the MS in Apparel Product Development and Merchandising Technology.

At Central Michigan University, fashion merchandising students have many exciting opportunities to learn and work with their hands.

  • In the Visual Merchandising Lab, you'll discover how to create retail displays that attract customers and increase sales.
  • The Fashion Design Studio is where you can bring your sketches to life using different fabrics and techniques.
  • In the Textile Testing Lab, you'll explore the qualities of different materials, like durability and colorfastness, that affect how well clothes perform in the marketplace.
  • The Makerbot 3D Printing Lab combines fashion and technology, allowing you to design and make 3D printed accessories and even garments.
  • And, in the Computer-Aided Design (CAD) Lab, you'll use industry-standard software to develop your technical design skills, like creating digital designs and patterns.

These hands-on experiences will give you a taste of what it's like to work in the fashion industry. Hands-on experiences like these not only enrich your learning but also equip you with practical skills that will make your fashion portfolio stand out!

So, buckle up, fashion enthusiasts. Your journey into the thrilling world of hands-on fashion education awaits!



Blog: All Things Higher Ed posted | Last Modified: | Categories: Bachelors College of Education & Human Services
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