North Dakota has beautiful scenery, quaint towns, and hundreds of shops that sell everything from antiques and vintage clothing to fashions and jewelry by local designers.
The style here is nothing like other trendy places such as New York and California, but the locals do still care about fashion. Locals dress in casual gear from stores such as American Eagle Outfitters, Gap, and any number of western stores. They also shop for flirty dresses and unique outfits at boutiques and department stores such as Macy’s.
For mall lovers, the best place to shop is Columbia Mall in Grand Forks. Columbia Mall is home to more than 60 shops along with a bustling Macy’s, JCPenney, and Sears. The variety of shopping venues in North Dakota makes it easy for fashion merchandisers to find employment. Many fashion designers also work in the retail industry, but North Dakota also has an active textiles industry where designers can find work in technical production, sales, and product development.
Fargo, Bismarck, Grand Forks, and Minot offer the most opportunities, but you can still find opportunities at independent shops in smaller cities.
Career Opportunities & Employers in North Dakota:
A degree in fashion design can give you access to more than 50 careers in the textiles industry, apparel design, and retail. In textiles, fashion designers work as colorists, handweavers, print stylists, strike off artists, fashion directors, knit stylists, weaving designers, piece goods buyers, instructors, quality control managers, and fabric technicians, to name a few. Apparel designer’s work as stylists, sample makers, designers, sketching assistants, cutting assistants, and assistant designer.
Fashion merchandisers work in wholesale & retail sales, buying, merchandising, promotions, and more. So, as you can see, if you’re hunting for a career in fashion in North Dakota, you could end up working at a production facility, a corporate office, a design studio, or in a retail setting. Try the major cities first to see what they have to offer, then work your way down to smaller cities such as West Fargo, Mandan, Dickinson, and Jamestown.
North Dakota Fashion Schools & Programs:
If you’re interested in a career in fashion design or fashion merchandising, you can get started by enrolling in an accredited fashion design or fashion merchandising degree program. Most employers prefer a two- or four-year degree from an accredited college. Fortunately, the National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits approximately 300 postsecondary institutions with programs in art and design. Others are accredited by agencies such as the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or a regional agency such as the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. These schools typically award degrees in both fashion design and fashion merchandising.
The best North Dakota schools for fashion design and/or fashion merchandising programs are:
- University of North Dakota, Grand Forks
- North Dakota State University, Fargo
- Bismarck State College, Bismarck
To get started on a career in fashion design or fashion merchandising, the first step is to enroll in a fashion design or fashion merchandising degree program. If you plan to start a business or your own line, consider combining your fashion degree with a business or marketing degree. Most traditional colleges offer this option.
For more information about the fashion design and fashion merchandising industries, visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics at Bls.gov.
Employment and Salary Trends for North Dakota:
As of July 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics had not reported recent employment and salary figures for North Dakota fashion designers or fashion merchandisers in any state. However, retail fashion merchandisers often work with window and store displays. Around 270 window merchandisers (visual merchandisers) work in North Dakota today, up from 190 in 2006 and only 90 in 2004.
Overall employment in the fashion industry is expected to grow by one percent for the 2008-2018 decade. Sewing and cutting jobs may decline as established designers and brands choose manufacturing companies overseas. However, employment of fashion designers is stable because many firms prefer to keep design work in house.
As of May 2008, the mean annual wage for fashion designers overall was $61,160. The lowest paid fashion designers earned an average annual salary of $32,150 and the highest paid fashion designers earned $124,780 per year. Because many fashion designers are self-employed, salaries may vary greatly. A top fashion designer can earn millions per year.
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