How to Become a Textile Designer in the US

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Textile designers create unique and original designs and patterns for making knitted, woven or printed fabrics. They use their artistic skills together with computer-aided design software to create patterns that can meet clients’ preferences. If you are creative and love to keep up with current fashion trends, this could be the ideal career for you.

What Do Textile Designers Do?

The primary duties and responsibilities of textile designers include:

  • Drawing their own sketches and making design samples
  • Interpreting customer ideas into tangible designs
  • Selecting the best fabric for various designs
  • Staying abreast of fashion trends and changing consumer needs and preferences
  • Collecting fabric samples from different manufacturers for testing
  • Showcasing designs at fashion or trade shows
  • Guiding technicians during fabric construction

Although the career of a textile designer appears similar to that of a fashion designer, they have notable differences. For example, the end product of a textile designer is a fabric while the final product of a fashion designer is a trendy cloth or accessory.

Work Environment

Textile designers typically work from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. Freelance designers have flexible work schedules.

These designers spend their day in design studios, workshops and less often, offices. They also regularly hit the road to meet clients and attend exhibitions.


What is the average annual salary of a textile designer? Find out below:

Job level

Average pay

Starting designers

$32,000 to $39,000

Experienced designers

$39,000 to $64,000

Design managers

$ 64,000 to $80,000

Source: Payscale

Qualifications Required

You can get started in textile design with an associate degree in textile design. But if you want to stand out from a crowd of other designers, you should earn a Bachelor of Arts degree with concentrations in textile design. The degree must be recognized by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

These degrees cover topics such as:

  • Textile evaluation
  • Computer-aided design
  • Textile marketing
  • Product development.

You can also enter the profession as a textile operative and work your way up by increasing your experiencing and artistic ability.

Textile designers are artists. Hence, you must show your artistic capabilities to potential employers by compiling a portfolio of your best fabric designs.

Skills, Abilities and Qualities

By now, you know you must have strong artistic and creative skills to cut the grade in textile design. But what else do you require?

  • A keen eye for detail and excellent visual awareness
  • Good teamwork skills
  • Good computer skills
  • Good drawing skills
  • A good understanding of the properties of various fabrics
  • The ability to predict new trends
  • Good budgeting skills
  • Good communication skills.

Career Development

A master’ degree in textile design presents the best opportunity to enhance your competence and career progression prospects. Some of the best colleges offering this credential include:

  • North Carolina State University, North Carolina
  • Philadelphia University, Pennsylvania
  • Fashion Institute of Technology – State University of New York, New York

Being part of a professional body can also help you gain access to networking opportunities. Some of the organizations you can join include:

Job Opportunities

As a qualified textile designer you can be hired by:

  • Fabric manufactures
  • Design studios
  • Large fashion and clothing retailers
  • Companies that provide interior design and decoration services

A master’s degree will enable you to be considered for administrative positions, such as design management. With vast experience, you can start your own textile design business.

Although the BLS doesn’t provide occupational information for textile designers, the projections in many design fields are generally well below the 11 percent average for all jobs. To succeed, focus on attending textile exhibitions and trade shows. This will enable you to meet and interact with potential employers or clients. Also, many of the available job opportunities are concentrated in New York and other major cities. So this is not a profession to practice in the rural areas.

However, despite the relatively low job prospects if you have the necessary skills, ability and passion, this may just be the career for you.