Career Research

May 5, 2015

Footwear Designer

A footwear design career is a challenging and rewarding choice for fashion designers with a particular interest in shoes, and the ability to specialize by type of consumer, style or shoe function makes it a particularly dynamic field of fashion design.

Nature of Work

  • Creating designs for many different types of footwear
  • Sketching ideas by hand or using computer programmes
  • Communicating with customers and suppliers

Training and Qualification

Training in footwear design begins at the undergraduate level with a fashion-focused associate or bachelor's degree program. Many fashion design companies and retailers hire footwear design professionals with an associate degree; however, some prefer, if not require, candidates to have a bachelor's degree. A combination of experience and education may often be substituted for a 4-year degree. Experience in the field is vital, and most trained footwear designers start out in assistant or entry-level positions and work their way up.

Job Outlook/ Earning Potential

Staff positions as footwear designers are available but scarce according to the BLS, so many shoe designers focus on building freelance careers which can be parlayed into starting new footwear design companies. A 3% decline in general fashion design positions was projected by the BLS, from 2012-2022. Pay is highly inconsistent depending on the footwear designer's level of experience, reputation and target market, but a high income is possible. To give some idea of income in general, fashion designers, which would include footwear designers, bring in a median annual salary of $62,860 as of May 2012.