Education and Training Requirements
A high school diploma or GED is required by most employers. Take as many art classes as possible including those in drawing, painting, and sketching. Computer classes will also be useful especially if you can learn computer-aided design. Take any fashion design classes that are available. Business and accounting classes will be useful if you plan to start your own textile design business or work as a freelancer.
You do not need a college degree to become a fabric designer, but earning one is highly recommended. Design schools and programs with design specialties offer students opportunities to make important contacts via industry internships. These are especially helpful when job hunting after graduation.
There are a variety of educational options for aspiring fabric designers ranging from one- and two-year certificate programs, to short-term apprenticeships, to associate’s degree and bachelor’s degree programs. A bachelor of fine arts, a bachelor of arts in design, and a bachelor of arts in textile design are especially good options. In a textile design degree program, students explore the basics of color, texture, and form, while learning about the properties of different yarns, fibers, dyes, and fabrics. They also study textile history and the philosophy of design and create sketches and sample prints.
Earning a graduate degree in art, consumer and design sciences, textile and design sciences, textile engineering, or fashion design will increase your attractiveness to employers.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification and Licensing
No certification or licensing is available for fabric designers.
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
Experience requirements vary depending on the specific job. Some positions may require applicants to have one year of experience in lower-level fabric design positions, and others may require four to six years. Experience requirements may be waived if an individual has completed an internship or apprenticeship. Some employers may waive experience requirements if an applicant's portfolio is very strong.
Fabric designers must be artistic, creative, imaginative people who have an eye for color and a flair for design. A love for patterns, color, and fabric are needed. Computer skills are mandatory. Proficiency in various software programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and at least one computer-aided design program are essential.
Fabric designers often work with others on a design team, so good communication skills and the ability to listen and translate ideas are important. The ability to handle pressure and perform well under tight deadlines are also necessary. You'll need strong business and marketing skills if you plan to launch your own fabric design firm.