Careers Newsletter: May 2024

Careers Spotlight: Fashion Designer

Fashion designers use their technical knowledge and creative flair to work on designs for new and original clothing

As a fashion designer, you'll research current fashion trends, forecasting what will be popular with consumers, and take inspiration from the world around you to create fresh and original designs.

You'll decide on fabrics, colours and patterns, produce sample designs and adjust them until you're happy with the final product.

You may work to your own brief or be given a brief to work towards, with specifications relating to colour, fabric and budget. In large companies, you're likely to work as part of a team of designers, headed by a creative director, whereas if working for a small company as sole designer or for yourself, you'll be responsible for all the designs.

You'll typically specialise in one area of design, such as sportswear, childrenswear, footwear or accessories.

The main areas of work for fashion designers are:


Tasks depend on the market you're working for, but you'll typically need to:

Experienced designers with larger companies may focus more on the design aspect, with pattern cutters and machinists preparing sample garments. In smaller companies these, and other tasks, may be part of the designer's role.


Design assistants may start at around £16,000 to £18,000.  A junior designer can expect to earn approximately £25,000 a year.

Typical salaries at senior designer and creative director level range from around £42,000 to in excess of £85,000.

Salaries vary depending on your level of experience, geographical location and type of employer.

What to expect

The working environment varies between companies, from a modern, purpose-built office to a small design studio. Freelance designers may work from home or in a rented studio.

With the increase in online retailing, setting up in business or being self-employed is becoming more common, even straight after graduation. Extensive market research and business acumen are critical for any fashion business to succeed.

The majority of opportunities are available in London and the South East and some large towns and cities in the North West and Scotland, with pockets of industry in the Midlands.

Career success relies on a combination of creativity, perseverance, resilience and good communication and networking skills.

There are opportunities to travel to meet suppliers, research new trends and to attend trade and fashion shows, either in the UK or abroad.


Fashion design is a very competitive industry, and you'll typically need a degree, HND or foundation degree in a subject that combines both technical and design skills. Relevant subjects include:

As you research courses, carefully look at the subjects covered, links the department has with the fashion industry and opportunities available for work placements, showcasing your work and building your portfolio.

Although you don't need a postgraduate qualification, you may want to develop your skills in a particular area such as fashion design management, menswear or footwear.

If your degree is unrelated, you'll need to get experience in the industry or a related area, such as fashion retail. You may want to consider taking a postgraduate qualification in fashion or textile design. Search postgraduate courses in fashion and textile design.

Entry without a degree is sometimes possible if you have a background in fashion or art and design, but you'll need to get experience in the industry to develop your expertise.


You'll need to show:

Work experience

Getting work experience is vital and experience of any kind in a design studio will help you develop your skills and build up a network of contacts within the industry. Experience in retail can be useful too.

Employers will expect to see a portfolio that clearly demonstrates your ability to design and produce garments and accessories.


Most fashion and clothing designers work for high street stores and independent labels. They may be employed at an in-house design studio, based in either a manufacturing or retail organisation.  Others work in specialist design studios, serving the couture and designer ready-to-wear markets, and their work may include producing designs for several manufacturing or retailing companies.  However, the top design houses are a relatively small market compared with the high street fashion sector.  Opportunities exist for self-employment. Freelance fashion designers can market their work through trade fairs and via agents, or by making contact directly with buyers from larger businesses or niche clothing outlets.

The culture of the industry is very much that people learn on the job. However, self-development is important throughout your career, and you'll need to take responsibility for keeping your skills and knowledge up to date.

Initially, any training is likely to be related to learning about the practical processes that your employer uses and covering any relevant technological developments. Larger firms may provide business and computer training, which could include computer-aided design (CAD) or other specialist software, such as Photoshop and Illustrator.

Reading the trade press and fashion blogs, attending trade and fashion shows, and visiting suppliers are also important for keeping up to date with trends and fashions.

Career prospects

How your career develops will depend on the specific area of design you trained in, the work experience you've built up and your professional reputation. Another influencing factor will be the type of company you work for and the opportunities for career development within it.  Being proactive and making contacts in the industry is essential, especially in a sector where people frequently move jobs in order to progress their career and where there is a lot of pressure to produce new ideas that are commercially viable.

With several years' design experience, progression is possible through senior designer roles to the position of head designer or creative director. At this level, you'll have considerable responsibility for overall design decisions and influences for the range, but as this is a management position others will do the actual design work.

If you want to learn more about working in fashion click on the links below

Boosting your CV

In this section we have looked at how boost your CV.  A good CV will get you noticed and invited for an interview, but no further.  The key to a successful interview lies in soft skills.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills relate to how you work. Soft skills include interpersonal (people) skills, communication skills, listening skills, time management, and empathy, among others. They are among the top skills employers seek in the candidates they hire, because soft skills are important for just about every job.

Over the next few editions of the careers newsletter we will look at different soft skills and how you can improve them

Creative problem solving and innovation

The last few years have presented many new challenges for companies. The last thing an employer or hiring manager wants is an employee who sees a challenging situation or new task and says, “Wow, I don't know what to do here.” Instead, they want to know that you can think logically and creatively to develop solutions to the problems or obstacles that arise from day to day.

They also hope you'll help to come up with new ideas while addressing existing problems. And the more creative, the better; that kind of thinking leads to innovation and improvements within the company.

On your CV, be sure to highlight your problem solving skills and list situations where you had to use your creativity in the face of adversity by coming up with innovative solutions to the problems you encountered.

At your interview, express your enthusiasm for tackling challenges. Every job has hurdles and employers want to hire people who aren't afraid of tackling those challenges. Make sure that your interviewer knows you're one of those people.

Here are 6 steps to follow to help you to improve your problem solving skills

1. Identify the problem

2. Think about why it’s a problem

3. Brainstorm possible solutions to the problem

4. Evaluate the solutions to the problem

5. Put the solution into action

6. Evaluate the outcome of your problem-solving process

If the solution hasn’t worked, go back to step 1 of this problem-solving process and start again. Perhaps the problem wasn’t what you thought it was, or the solutions weren’t quite right

Help for Parents and Carers

When it comes to education and careers, parents and carers have a large influence on a students choices. As an adult you are expected to have all the answers, but in a constantly evolving world it can be a struggle to keep up with the latest options out there.  In this section we will highlight resources that will help keep you up to date with careers and the choices available to young people.

This month we look at how to start a conversation about careers

In terms of career choice, you should:

Talking Futures have a website and lots of resources to help parents talk about careers, click on the image below to find out more

Careers in Hertfordshire: Film, Media and Creative

The creative industries can be divided into 16 exciting career pathways including arts, culture and heritage, design, fashion, film & TV, gaming and immersive technologies, media, music, photography and videography, podcast and radio, publishing, architecture, theatre & performing arts, writing and journalism, visual effects and animation, advertising, PR and marketing.

Some of the world’s best-known films, including all Star Wars and Indiana Jones films, and all eight Harry Potter films, were made here. Hertfordshire-based firms’ specialist and technical experts have been recognised for their contributions to Oscar-nominated and winning films.

Hertfordshire is a major contributor to a global success story, as the UK has one of the world’s most successful and dynamic creative sectors. Hear from some of our local residents describe their career pathway into the creative industries.


 There were 4,550 firms in Hertfordshire’s creative industries in 2016, involved in activities from film-making to digital content production.

The number of employers has grown by 6.5% per year since 2010. Creative industries employed 17,600 people in 2015. Employment has grown by 10.6% annually since 2010, far exceeding the national growth rate of 4.5%.

The University of Hertfordshire is a key contributor to this creative ecosystem, with specialisms in animation, animatronics and digital media. Its animation school, UH Animation, is among the top four in the world. Alumni from the university are actively involved in world-leading games and animation companies and have worked on blockbuster productions such as Harry Potter, Avatar, Prometheus and the GTA series.

Hertfordshire is home to both Elstree Studios and Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden. Elstree has made three of the top shows on British television: Dancing on Ice and Who Wants to be a Millionaire? for ITV, and Big Brother for Channel 5. Some of the most famous films in the world have been made at Elstree, including Star Wars, Indiana Jones, The Shining, Superman, and Labyrinth. More recently, Elstree has been home to Kick Ass, The King’s Speech and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Thanks to a £1m Growing Places Fund loan from the LEP Elstree Studios was able to expand its studio space, resulting in it securing the £100m Netflix contract for The Crown.

BBC Elstree Studios has been home to some of the broadcaster’s most popular shows, including Grange Hill, Top of The Pops and Kilroy. BBC Elstree is best known for popular drama programmes such as EastEnders and Holby City.

The £100m Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, owned by Warner Bros. Studios and opened in June 2012, is the largest studio space in the UK and is known worldwide as the home of the Harry Potter films. Other notable films include Edge of Tomorrow, Jupiter Ascending, In the Heart of the Sea and Man from U.N.C.L.E., as well as numerous TV productions and advertisements.

Its secure, 200-acre site is the only facility in Europe owned by a Hollywood studio. It has more than 250,000 square feet of studio space and hosts some of the largest sound stages in the UK, as well as one of the biggest heated underwater filming tanks in Europe. Its 100-acre back-lot is among the most extensive in Europe and can be adapted for multiple production needs.

Sunset Studios in Broxbourne will be the first expansion of Blackstone and Hudson Pacific Properties’ studio platform outside Hollywood. The two partners acquired a 91-acre site to the north-west of the M25-A10 junction through a joint venture for £120 million. With an expected total investment of £700 million, the facility is estimated to generate 4,500 permanent jobs and £300 million annually for the local economy.

Hertswood Studios is a proposed new studio complex in Borehamwood. Planning permission has yet to be secured, but if built, the 90-acre site will provide a total of 1 million sq ft of film studio space, including 21 stages, supporting workshops and offices, as well as an additional commercial, hotel and film industry college space of 600,000 sq ft, making it the single largest studio in the UK. 


 A growing number of digital content, gaming, software and visual effects (VFX) companies have started in Hertfordshire or chosen to locate here.

Hertfordshire’s digital companies produce content for feature films, television, games, commercials, websites and mobile phones. Games production and distribution companies such as Aspyr Media Europe Ltd, Rising Star Games Ltd, and KOEI TECMO Europe Ltd operate successfully from the county, taking advantage of Hertfordshire’s communications links with London and connectivity to key international markets.

For the last ten years, UH Animation’s annual exposé has been a primary recruitment forum for high profile companies seeking out new and exciting 2D, 3D, animation and VFX talent. Companies such as Disney Animation, The Mill, Tandem, Double Negative and Framestore are regular participants.

The University of Hertfordshire is also home to G+VERL (Games & Visual Effects Research Lab), a ground-breaking project linking scientists, artists, clinicians and filmmakers. It brings together the worlds of film, art, technology and computer science to undertake research into digital image-making and high-resolution image technologies. Sharing methods and promoting interdisciplinary understanding, the project brings together world-class research in a wide range of areas, including video art, digital film, visual effects and medical visualisation.

Hertfordshire is strong on promotion too, with corporate and events management companies such as SMYLE helping global brands launch new products or celebrate successes.

For more information please go to 

Current Opportunities

The Careers and Enterprise Company regularly host virtual employer encounters which give students the opportunity to easily find out about careers in specific sectors


Please click on the link below

Virtual Employer Encounters