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Costume Designer Job Description, Career as a Costume Designer, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: College degree in costume designing

Salary Median: $55,840 per year

Employment Outlook: Good

Costume designers create accessories and clothing for television, film, and theater. They work closely with the producer and director to enhance the production’s quality. Costume designers sketch clothing ideas and choose appropriate fabrics and colors. Costume designers also manage the wardrobe/costume budget.

When working in a large-budget production, costume designers create ideas for costumes and assign the production work to wardrobe supervisors. In small-scale productions, costume designers themselves carry out the actual task of designing. They style garments such as sportswear, casual wear, outerwear, maternity wear, formal wear, and intimate apparel. Costume designers usually work with tailors and costume makers who help turn their designs into wearable garments.

Education and Training Requirements

Costume designers must have a college degree in fashion or costume designing. Relevant subjects include theatrical set design, costume design, art, and performing arts production. Individuals who have completed a postgraduate degree or diploma program, or who have attended specialized training courses, are likely to be preferred over other candidates. Employers often look for designers with knowledge of accessories, textile fabrics, and fashion trends.

Experience in designing clothes and accessories is beneficial, as is contribution to creating outfits for independent theatrical productions. Knowledge of art, fashion, and general world history; technical skill in dressmaking and designing; good research skills; and ability to work with other professionals and handle pressure and stress are some other aptitudes a costume designer must possess.

Getting the Job

Costume designers work mainly for theater companies, television, concerts, and motion pictures. College placement offices often provide information on suitable employment opportunities. Internships with design firms may be a good idea. Direct application remains one of the most effective methods for getting a job in costume design. Costume designers can also find jobs through professional affiliations, advertisements in newspapers or journals, and other people within the industry.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Employment prospects for costume designers depend mostly on the entertainment industry. The growing demand for theaters and movies necessitates the need for more designers. An aspiring costume designer generally starts as an assistant to an experienced professional. With experience and perseverance, costume designers can find good opportunities in the film and television industries.

Since most people consider costume design a glamorous profession, there is always strong competition for available positions. Per the labor statistics, overall employment of costume designers is likely to increase at a slower-than-average rate till 2014. However, demand for designers should remain strong since customers enthusiastic about the latest fashions will encourage the creation of innovative outfits and accessories.

Working Conditions

Costume designers employed by wholesalers, manufacturing establishments, or design firms usually work in comfortable, well-lit offices. Self-employed costume designers work in variable conditions. They often need to adjust their working hours to suit the deadlines and schedules of their clients. They tend to work longer and are under continuous stress to satisfy their clients.

The job profile of costume designers calls for constant interaction with producers, suppliers, and consumers from all over the world. The majority of designers travel to fashion and trade shows to learn about the latest trends in fashion. Although they generally work regular hours, costume designers may need to extend their schedules to prepare for shows and to meet production deadlines.

Where to Go for More Information

Costume Designers Guild
11969 Ventura Blvd., First Floor
Studio City, CA 91604

AIGA, the professional association for design
164 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10010

Costume Society of America
390 Amwell Rd., Suite 402
Hillsborough, NJ 08844

National Association of Schools of Art and Design
11250 Roger Bacon Dr., Suite 21
Reston, VA 20190

The Costumer’s Manifesto

Salary, Earnings and Benefits

The earnings of costume designers vary in accordance with the nature of job and experience. Annual average salary in the United States is $55,840. Self-employed or freelance designers often earn more than professionals holding salaried positions. However, the income of freelance and self-employed designers depends mostly on the costume designer’s reputation, business ability, talent, and client base.

Costume designers working for an organization negotiate their salaries individually with their employers. They often enjoy fringe benefits like sick leaves, vacations, and health insurance.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCommunication and the Arts