An in-person or online associate degree in fashion can be the first step toward a bachelor's degree, which is usually required for fashion designers. Most associate degrees in fashion focus on fashion merchandising or fashion business, not fashion design.

An associate in fashion merchandising prepares students for careers as entry-level visual merchandisers, social media brand ambassadors, showroom assistants, sales representatives, and retail store managers. An associate of applied science in fashion design prepares students for entry-level positions in the world of fashion design.

Should I Get an Associate in Fashion?

An associate degree in fashion can provide a stepping stone toward a bachelor's degree in fashion.

An associate degree in fashion can provide a stepping stone toward a bachelor's degree in fashion. Students often get their associate degree at a community college, which is usually much cheaper than a four-year college or university, and then transfer to a four-year school to complete their bachelor's degree. Students who intend to complete a bachelor's program should make sure their credits will transfer before starting the associate program.

Students may also decide to pursue an associate degree if they are unable to afford a bachelor's degree or want to enter the workforce quickly, since an associate degree typically takes only two years to complete. However, graduates with an associate in fashion may find their salary potential limited compared to graduates with a bachelor's degree.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 4% decline in demand for fashion designers between 2019 and 2029. There may be more job opportunities available for individuals who pursue business, merchandising, and marketing career paths within fashion.

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What Will I Learn in a Fashion Associate Program?

Students in a fashion merchandising associate program learn about retail and wholesale fashion environments. Degree-seekers study the product life cycle for the fashion industry and how to use color and design to sell clothing and accessories. They also learn to apply psychological principles to sales.

Students in an associate in fashion merchandising program take classes like basic design and color theory, textiles and color theory, introduction to fashion merchandising, and introduction to marketing. They may also study merchandise planning and retail sales promotion.

Schools may offer associate of science (AS), associate of arts (AA), or associate of applied science (AAS) degrees. Fashion merchandising degrees are usually AS or AAS degrees, while fashion design degrees are more likely to be AA. AA and AS degrees prepare students to transfer to a bachelor's program, while AAS degrees prepare them for immediate employment.

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What Can I Do With an Associate in Fashion?

An associate degree in fashion can prepare students for careers in fashion merchandising or to transfer to a four-year bachelor's program in fashion merchandising or design. Students who aspire to become fashion designers should earn a bachelor's degree, since most fashion designer positions require a four-year degree.

Graduates of fashion merchandising associate programs may be able to land jobs as visual merchandisers, social media brand ambassadors, entry-level fashion merchandisers, and sales representatives. They can also find work as showroom assistants, retail sales workers, and retail store managers.

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How Much Money Can I Make With an Associate in Fashion?

According to the BLS, retail sales workers earned a median annual income of $27,320 in 2020. According to PayScale, retail managers earn an average annual salary of $48,070. With a bachelor's degree, graduates can pursue careers as fashion designers, who earned a median annual salary of $75,810 in 2020, according to the BLS.

Frequently Asked Questions About Associate in Fashion Programs

Are fashion majors in demand?

According to the BLS, the demand for fashion designers is falling. Since many fashion jobs are in retail, and department stores have been declining for years, it is likely that demand for retail sales personnel will fall as well.

What kind of jobs can I get with an associate in fashion?

Graduates with an associate degree in fashion may be able to find work as retail store managers and sales representatives. They can also work as fashion merchandisers, social media brand ambassadors, and visual merchandisers.

How much does it cost to get an associate in fashion?

The cost of an associate degree can vary greatly from one school to another. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average in-state yearly tuition at a two-year public school was $3,310 in 2019.

Is an associate in fashion worth it?

Prospective students must consider the cost of an associate in fashion as well as the likelihood that the degree will enable them to land a good job. The lower the cost of the degree, the more likely it is to be worth the investment.

How long does it take to get an associate in fashion?

It usually takes two years to get an associate in fashion. However, students who take classes during the summer may be able to graduate more quickly. Some online programs may also have accelerated schedules available.