Creativity, an artistic flair and a strong business sense are key if you are interested in becoming a retail designer. There are a wide variety of career options associated with this profession. For example, if you are interested in fashion, you may seek a specialization in clothing design. If marketing and sales are your forte, consider a career in designing storefront and internal displays. In 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated the annual median salary for this occupation as $64,530 with no expected job growth by 2020. As you consider the direction you will take, selecting the right high school courses will make a difference.
If you are interested in a career in design, chances are that art is one of your favorite subjects. Continue to refine your skills by taking as many art classes as possible. Specifically, classes that focus on drawing and painting are helpful. Most employers will require evidence of your artistic ability and projects from these classes will help you begin a portfolio of your work. If you are interested in designing retail displays, be sure to create as many multidimensional projects as possible. This experience will help as you move onto real-world display work. Some high schools include photography courses as art class options. Becoming proficient as a photographer will give you the ability to record your design work and add to your portfolio.
If fashion design is your interest, use your electives to take home economics courses in high school. Strong sewing skills are a must in this field and learning the fundamentals right away is important. Most high schools offer sewing classes or fold them into general home economics coursework. If you have a home economics teacher with a sewing specialization, request an independent study to work on advanced skills.
Increasingly, design work is done with the help of new computer technology tools. Taking computer courses in high school is beneficial as you enter a marketplace that is driven by new technology. You may not be able to directly access industry programs but learning basic skills and gaining a comfort level with computer programs will help you adapt to new design programs. Most high schools provide courses in programs such as In Design and Photoshop. These design programs focus on artistic and print design technology that is applicable to retail and fashion design work.
Work Release & Apprenticeships
Many high schools allow students to apply for a work release or practicum programs during their last year of high school. You can receive course credit and permission to study at a local business. Choose a retail business in town that will give you on-the-job experience with professionals in the field. Your contact with experts in the field will serve as important references when you apply for a professional position.
2016 Salary Information for Fashion Designers
Fashion designers earned a median annual salary of $65,170 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, fashion designers earned a 25th percentile salary of $46,020, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $92,550, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 23,800 people were employed in the U.S. as fashion designers.
Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years. She has numerous publications with Talico, Inc., DynaTEAM Consulting, Inc. and Kinect Education Group.