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Fashion Designer

Fashion designers and product developers create new styles of clothing and accessories such as jewellery, belts, shoes, gloves and hats.

  • Avg. Salary $39,473.00
  • Avg. Wage $21.04
  • Minimum Education 1 year post-secondary
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Couturier, Designer, Haute Couture Designer

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
NOC & Interest Codes
The Fashion Designer is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Fashion Designers
NOC code: 5243.2

Interest in synthesizing information to create designs for clothing, textiles and accessories


Interest in precision working with equipment to prepare patterns for manufacture of garments and accessories; and in recording garment specifications on sketches, fitting partially completed garments on customers and models, and marking alterations necessary to achieve correct fit


Interest in speaking with customers to advise them on fabrics, styles, colours, current fashion trends and suitability of designs

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Updated Oct 12, 2016

In creating new designs, fashion designers follow a fairly standard process to plan, design and construct a garment. In general, they:

  • research fabric and styling trends
  • identify the needs and preferences of their target market (customers)
  • choose fabric swatches and make rough sketches
  • transfer directly to a flat pattern or drape the fabric over a dressmaking form
  • produce a flat pattern on paper to make a sample garment from a test fabric (muslin)
  • cut the cotton muslin to the shape of the pattern
  • make alterations on the sample and pattern after it is tried on by live models
  • create a final sample from the actual fabric.

A number of samples may have to be made before a design is satisfactory. If the garment is being produced for the wholesale or retail market:

  • a technical specification sheet is created with seam allowances, notions, fabric swatches and special instructions
  • the pattern is cut and graded to standardized sizes
  • the product is either manufactured in-house or contracted out to be cut, sewn and finished.

Designers supervise all phases and details of pattern preparation: cutting, fitting and garment production. They choose the fabric and trim as well.

Marketing their goods is a big part of a designer's business. This often includes:

  • determining price points for styles
  • duplicating their collections for agents and sales representatives who travel to other garment centres
  • promoting their collections through fashion shows, trade shows and personal appearances
  • travelling frequently to attend trade shows to buy materials.

Designers often develop a full line of co-ordinating garments and accessories that work together as a lifestyle brand with common colour scheme, fabric and similar styling in different styled looks. As well, many recognized designers market their goods in their own boutiques or through online or mail order catalogues.

Fashion designers must keep up to date with fashion trends so their clothes are fashion forward. Designers also produce classic fashion lines that are timeless and seasonless. Fashion designers also keep up to date on other trends that influence design. For example, environmental trends that encourage the use of sustainable fabrics, fabrics made from recycled materials or organic plants, as well as reduced environmental impact in production.

Typically designers create original goods which are not imitations or copies of everyone else's look. Designers and product developers who work for manufacturers may do less original work and adapt other designers' ideas for the mass market.

Haute Couture is a very specialized area of fashion design that caters to individual clients. These are original designs, usually one-of-a-kind, representing the top end of the fashion industry both in style and price. Couturiers produce a much smaller volume of clothing, usually only one sample of each design.

Working Conditions
Updated Oct 12, 2016

Most fashion designers work long, irregular hours. Overtime often is required before big shows and during season rushes. Work rooms may be crowded. Designers must meet tight deadlines while maintaining a high level of quality and paying careful attention to detail.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Oct 12, 2016

Fashion designers need the following characteristics:

  • imagination and creative talent
  • a good sense of colour
  • an identifiable personal style
  • excellent time management skills and a capacity for hard work and long hours
  • excellent organization and multi-tasking skills
  • good communication skills both written (sketching ideas) and verbal
  • perseverance and the ability to sell ideas to others
  • the ability to handle criticism
  • the ability to work well with a wide variety of people
  • willingness to do the reading and research required to keep informed about new materials, trims and manufacturers' practices
  • understanding of basic human body shape and how to manipulate fabrics and materials to fit.

They should enjoy:

  • synthesizing information and developing innovative designs
  • doing methodical, precise work when preparing patterns and fitting garments
  • advising customers.
Educational Requirements
Updated Oct 12, 2016

Fashion designers require an in-depth, working knowledge of textiles, technical clothing construction, the history of fashion design, sketching, draping, pattern-making, sewing and seaming, finishes and fitting. Experience in dealing with consumers at the retail level and computer skills are definite assets.

Designers also need an understanding of how to develop and sell a business plan to financial backers, and the skills required to operate a small business (for example, organization, accounting, marketing).

Training programs vary considerably in content, length, entrance requirements, cost and reputation in the clothing industry. Prospective students should discuss training options with practising fashion designers before enrolling in a training program.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Oct 12, 2016

The fashion design industry is centred primarily in major urban centres and is very competitive.

New designers must develop their own lines and promote their services by entering shows or organizing their own shows. Some designers cater to small specialty stores or particular product lines such as uniforms, safety and protective apparel, or leisure wear. Designers may hire an agent at a fashion market where several fashion designers are represented together. This often leads to greater exposure.

Beginning designers with manufacturing companies usually rotate through jobs such as assistant to the pattern maker, draper, sample maker, grader and dressmaker. With experience they might become design assistants. Many designers work as in-house designers for specialty stores or they freelance (produce individual designs for clients).

Self-employed fashion designers may work out of their own home or studio and handle the production and distribution of the products themselves without the aid of a manufacturing or distribution facility. Setting up an independent fashion design business requires considerable capital investment and extensive promotion activities to reach consumers and establish brand recognition.

Fashion designers may use their skills full time in accessory design, fashion consulting or designing uniforms for large corporations. They also may work part time as fashion illustrators, photographers' stylists, fashion writers, fashion show commentators or costume designers.

Fashion designers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 5243: Theatre, Fashion, Exhibit and Other Creative Designers. In Alberta, 75% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Oct 12, 2016

Some fashion designers may be paid commission on a per garment basis rather than an hourly wage.

Theatre, fashion, exhibit and other creative designers
NOC code: 5243

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $13.00 $26.56 $17.89 $18.00
Overall $14.90 $22.00 $21.04 $21.15
Top $21.00 $26.60 $25.47 $25.30

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

C: Lower Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Lower Reliability, represents a CV of between 15.01% and 33.00% and/or if fewer than 20 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 33% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information
Public Administration
Retail Trade

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


2015 Vacancy Rate

Related High School Subjects
  • Fine Arts
    • Visual Arts
  • English Language Arts
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Media, Design and Communication Arts
    • Design Studies
    • Fashion Studies
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Fine Arts and Performing Arts
  • Human Ecology, Fashion and Food Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Oct 12, 2016

Apparel Human Resources Council (AHRC) website:

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 09, 2016. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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