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Career as Costume Designer

Last Updated By Harleen Kaur on 01 Sep, 2022

How to Become a Costume Designer

About Costume Designer

One of the biggest industries in the world is fashion. Every movie and television show in India has a costume designer, which provides numerous career opportunities for aspirants. The blogging and influencer industries have expanded along with easier Internet access expanding the opportunities for those aspiring costume designers to demonstrate their skills. Costume designers are fashion professionals who design wardrobes, footwear, accessories and other fashion apparels that are used in theatre, film and television. They work closely with the directors, producers, as well as a costume design team to ensure that the apparels that will be generated are precisely based on what the story, drama or script requires. The duty of a costume designer is to make sure that the costumes, as well as the accessories, reflect the vibe, personality and story of culture, character, age, relationship and position. They have to carefully read the script and come up with apt costumes to fit the narrative. The job role of a costume designer consists of research, design, sewing and drawing costumes are used in stage shows, movies, theatres and productions.

Responsibilities of a Costume Designer

Here are a few responsibilities of a costume designer:

  • Looking for current fashion trends and make predictions about the upcoming ones

  • Designing and stitching the product in order to create a sample

  • Going through the script/ narrative of the scene in order to visualize and bring the characters to life

  • Understanding the requirement of the client and bringing creative ideas to justify it

  • Discussing views with the client and making modifications as well the new developments

  • Assembling ideas through sketches, mood boards photographs or rough designs

  • Presenting the final prototype to the client and finalising the costume

Eligibility to become Costume Designer

Following are the eligibility criteria of a costume designer including the minimum academic qualification, skills and work experience.

Qualification Required

  • Bachelor's Degree or a Master's Degree in Apparel, Costume or Fashion Design.
  • Students with Diploma in Apparel, Costume or Fashion Design are also eligible.


  • Sound Communication Skills
  • Good listener
  • Creativity
  • Attention to Detail
  • Sketching/ Drawing Skills
  • Visualisation
  • Time management.

Work Experience

  • Not mandatory, however, 1-2 years of work experience with top firms/ designers can provide great employment opportunities.


Courses to Become a Costume Designer

Here are a few courses that an individual can pursue in order to learn the right aptitude and skills and become a successful costume designer:


Course DurationAverage Fee per YearTop Design Colleges

B.Des in Fashion Design

4 YearsRs. 2 Lakh to 6 Lakh

B.A. in Fashion Design

3 YearsRs. 1.5 Lakh to Rs. 3 Lakh

B.Sc in Costume Design & Fashion

3 YearsRs. 1.5 Lakh to Rs. 3 Lakh

M.Des in Fashion Design

2 YearsRs. 3.5 Lakh to Rs. 5 Lakh
M.A. in Costume Design2 YearsRs. 1.5 Lakh to Rs. Rs. 2.5 Lakh

M.Sc in Costume Design & Fashion

2 YearsRs. 1.5 Lakh to Rs. Rs. 3 Lakh
Diploma in Costume Design and Dress Making3 YearsRs. 1 Lakh to Rs. 2 Lakh

Note: To take any admission related assistance, either fill the Common Application Form (CAF) or dial the student helpline number 1800-572-9877 (toll-free). Our admission experts would be glad to help you out!


Steps to Become Costume Designer 

Step 1: Passing 10+2 with the necessary subjects and a minimum grade

One must earn at least 50% of the required marks in their 10+2 in order to become a costume designer. Any stream can be chosen in order to become a costume designer; it is not important.

Step 2: Entrance Tests

Before accepting students for admission, several colleges hold entrance exams. Students must pass their 10+2 with at least a 50% grade in order to be qualified to take the entrance exam. To enroll in an NIFT college, one must take the NIFT entrance exam.

The following are some fashion entrance exams:

NIFT Entrance Exam






Step 3: Pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree

To become a costume designer, aspirants must enroll in undergraduate design programmes after completing their 10+2 requirements. The preferred undergraduate diploma in fashion design is a BDes.

Courses for Undergraduate Costume Designers

BDes Specialisations

Other Courses

Fashion Design

BA in Fashion Design

Apparel Design

BSc in Fashion Design


Diploma in Fashion Design

Step 4: Post Bachelor's Degree

After completing the bachelor's degree, the student has two options:

Option 1: Candidates may begin working as an entry-level Costume Designer after successfully completing an undergraduate Costume Designer course. After gaining a few years of Costume Designer work experience, they may enroll in a postgraduate Costume Designer course.

Option 2: Candidates may enroll in a postgraduate Costume Designer course after successfully completing an undergraduate Costume Designer course. They may begin working in the industry after completing their academic qualifications. MDes is the most sought-after degree for a career as a Costume Designer.

Courses for Postgraduate Costume Designers

MDes Specialisations

Other Courses

Fashion Design

MA in Fashion Design

Apparel Design

MSc in Fashion Design


Postgraduate Diploma in Fashion Design

Types of Job Roles Costume Designer

The job profiles of a costume designer are just not limited to the field of designing costumes. They design the entire costume and accessories to go along with it. Listed below are some of the popular job profiles for a costume designer:

Accessory Designer: An accessory designer is responsible for conceptualizing, designing and creating a range of products that complement fashion costumes and images such as jewellery pieces, handbags, belts, scarves, hair accessories, footwear etc.

Jewellery Designer: Jewellery designers work with different metals and stones to create new beautiful intricate pieces of wearable art.

Footwear/Shoe Designer: Footwear designers are responsible for designing creative and practical designs of shoes and other footwear. Footwear designing is a world in itself as it ranges from high street fashion shoes to sports shoes, to kids shoes to catwalk shoes and others.

Leather Accessory Designer: Leather accessory designers design and create various leather goods and accessories such as belts, hats, jackets shoes etc.

Men’s Accessories/ Costume Designer: Men's accessories designers are responsible for designing men’s headwear, neckwear, bracelets, scarves, and other small accessories.

Fashion Designer: They are responsible to design clothes that are not only functional but also aesthetically pleasing. A fashion designer curates the ideas and concepts for clothing styles often by drawing or sketching.

Employment Opportunities for Costume Designers

A majority of the costume designers prefer working freelance but there is an ample number of job opportunities for costume designers in many sectors. Some of them are listed below:

  • Fashion Houses
  • Production Houses
  • Designer Stores
  • Freelancers
  • Studios
  • Films
  • Jewellery Houses
  • High-End Fashion Labels

Top Recruiting Companies for Costume Designers

Check out the leading companies that recruit costume designers here below:

  • Pantaloons
  • ITC Wills Lifestyle
  • Levis
  • Zara

Note: Skilled and creative costume designer also get to collaborate and work for high-end designers like Manish Malhotra, Anita Dongre, Anamika Khanna, Tarun Tahiliani and others.

Skills Required to be a Costume Designer 

To be considered for the best costume designer, candidates must possess the following skill sets:

  • Creativity: The fundamental quality that candidates for the position of costume designer should have is creativity, or an aptitude for all forms of creative fine arts. To be a successful costume designer, one must possess innate creativity. The desire to transform the subject matter into a magnificent work of art comes from creativity and imagination
  • Focus on Detail: To succeed as a costume designer, one must not only be a talented artist but also have a keen sense of detail. The intricate and minute details on clothing should be handled by a costume designer. Embroidery needs to be done very precisely and with great care. Care must be taken when creating the ruffles and pleats at the hem of a skirt, the waist of a blouse, or the sleeves
  • Drawing Skills: Drawing abilities are essential for a costume designer's career in order to bring their imaginations to life. A costume maker changes a piece of fabric into various types of clothing. A costume designer cannot communicate his or her creativity to the clients without the ability to draw
  • Communication Skills: In order to give instructions and get to know clients, communication is a must in the career of a costume designer. One designer cannot complete a project on his own. The team that a costume designer works with needs to communicate effectively and efficiently in order to do their jobs well. Collaboration with other designers is also necessary. A designer must collaborate with others on a project in order to produce high-quality work
  • Representation: Since costume designers frequently collaborate with their coworkers and numerous clients, it is important to have strong visualisation abilities. A costume designer who has strong visualisation abilities is able to make the most of their creativity and ideas
  • Time management: In order to meet client demands within a given time frame, costume designers must be able to multitask. In order to finish the tasks within the allotted time, designers must work extra hours. Therefore, having good time management skills is crucial to a career as a costume designer

Planning to choose Costume Designer as your career?

Pay Scale/Salary of Costume Designer

The salary of costume designers may vary as per one’s professional experience and the specialization they hold. The salary package of a costume designer usually increases with experience and time. On average, a costume designer makes around Rs. 50,000/- to Rs. 60,000/- per month. Check out the detailed salary of the costume designer below:

Job Profile

Starting Salary per annum

Mid Level Salary per annum

Senior Level Salary per annum

Costume Designer

Rs.3,00,000 - Rs.4,00,000

Rs. 4,00,000  -Rs. 7,00,000

Rs. 7,00,000 and above

Note: The above salary packages are an estimate and may vary from individual to individual and company to company.

Career Path for a Costume Designer

One can establish their own business and work directly with production companies or film producers by pursuing a career as a costume designer. One of the biggest employers in the field of costume design is the motion picture industry. Costume designers are now needed for many television series as well as movies because of the rise of online media. The current value of the Indian fashion industry is INR 1,000 crore, while the market is thought to be worth INR 20,000 crore. The future of the Indian fashion industry is promising because of the country's sizable young population. It should be noted that India's fashion industry has a bright future.

Opportunities are available in the fashion design industry for those who are dedicated, creative, and enthusiastic. Graduates in fashion design have a bright future in the developing industry. Graduates from this stream are hired by boutiques, clothing store chains, textile mills, export houses, leather companies, fashion show organisers, and jewellery stores.

The most popular career paths for costume designers are:

  • Fashion Stylist: Fashion stylists work for private clients, fashion businesses, and apparel manufacturers. For models in photo shoots or actors in television and film, they offer fashion guidance and select and coordinate outfits and accessories. The stylists assist the client in selecting appropriate attire and accessories for the occasion. By being able to select the appropriate outfit for the occasion, body type, and personality of the specific wearer, one can master the art of creating magnificent looks for the wearer
  • Costumes Designer: A designer of costumes draws a rough sketch by hand. Additionally, they create their designs using CAD software, as it is commonly known. One studies current and previous trends while creating with future trends in mind. A costume designer primarily creates outfits for movies or television, so they must be both fashionable and accurately represent the characters they are designing for
  • Fashion Director: Developing marketing and branding strategies, as well as navigating market trends, requires a fashion director to have a thorough understanding of the various market trends. Travel is required of a fashion director. He or she is required to go to international fashion shows. A fashion director needs to be an expert in design and colour, be able to predict fashion trends, and have excellent communication skills

Books & Study Material to Become Costume Designer

Candidates who are planning to pursue a career in costume designing must appear in design entrance exams. Most of the design exams are institute specific such as NID DAT, NIFT Entrance Exam, UPES DAT, AIEED, IIAD Entrance Exam etc. It is very important for an aspirant to have a creative bent of mind and to have an eye for costume designing. Here are some of the books that can help in enhancing the skills, aptitude and knowledge to become a Costume Designer:

  • Costume Design: Techniques of Modern Masters by Lynn Pecktal

  • Costume Designer's Handbook: A Complete Guide for Amateur and Professional Costume Designers by Rosemary Ingham 

  • Costume Design in the Movies by Elizabeth Leese

  • Costume Design 101: The Business and Art of Creating Costumes for Film and Television by Richard La Motte

  • The Art and Practice of Costume Design 1st Edition by Holly Poe Durbin

Pros of becoming a Costume Designer

  • Career as a costume designer offers one with the ultimate job satisfaction as you watch other celebrities wearing your art.
  • One of the biggest advantages of being a costume designer is that you have the option to start your own business and flourish in it.
  • The job of a costume designer is very creative and fun and one gets to attend famous stage shows and other public events.
  • For those who love to travel, a career as a costume designer can be very promising and satisfying.

Cons of becoming a Costume Designer

  • The job of a costume designer is very stressful as it involves long working hours. One has to meet the deadlines and order a lot of supplies during events and shows.
  • Sometimes a costume designer comes across a very difficult client. To be successful in this field, it becomes of great importance to listen to the unreasonable demands of the client and come up with a quick solution.
  • A costume designer always has to stay updated with the ongoing fashion trends and fashion statements.
  • The fashion industry is very competitive and exhaustive. It can take many years for a costume designer to make a place for themselves in this industry.

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FAQs about Costume Designer

How can I become a Costume Designer?

To become a Costume Designer, you have to pursue a bachelor and/or masters degree in design. Degrees like B.Des and B.Sc in the relevant stream are accepted as proper qualifications. Some work experience in the form of internships will also help in bagging the job of a Costume Designer.

What does a Costume Designer do?

The job of a Costume Designer entails many responsibilities. On the ground level, Costume Designers research, design, sew, and purchase costumes and props worn by actors or performers. They make sure that the props and wardrobe reflect the story being told and portray each character's personality, culture, age, status, and relationship.

What is the minimum qualification required to become a Costume Designer?

The minimum qualification required to become a Costume Designer is an undergraduate degree in design. These can include both B.Sc or B.Des in a relevant specialisation. A masters degree can indicate better job opportunities and salary.

Do I have to appear for an entrance exam to become a Costume Designer?

You might have to appear for an entrance exam to get admission to a design institute as many colleges either conduct their own exams or accept the popular design entrance tests to select students. Some colleges, however, also offer admission on the basis of merit.

Which are the popular design entrance exams for becoming a Costume Designer?

Some of the popular design entrance exams in India that you can appear for in order to get admission to a college to get a degree for becoming a Costume Designer include NIFT Entrance Exam, IIAD Entrance Exam, NID DAT, Pearl Academy Entrance Exam, LPUNEST, AIEED, etc.

What are the job roles of a Costume Designer?

A Costume Designer can be hired for one of the following job roles - Accessory Designer, Jewellery Designer, Leather Accessory Designer, Footwear Designer, Props Designer, etc.

Which are the top employment sectors of Costume Designers?

The leading employment sectors that hire Costume Designers are Film Industry, TV Industry, Fashion Houses, Production Houses, Designer Stores, Studios, Jewellery Houses, High-End Fashion Labels, Theatres, etc.

What is the salary of Costume Designers?

The starting salary of Costume Designers in India is around Rs. 3.5 - 4 lakh per annum. With some experience, the candidate can earn up to Rs. 10 lakh per annum as a mid-level salary.

I am pursuing B.Des. (Bachelor of Design) to become a Costume Designer. What other career options do I have ?

You could become a Graphic Designer , an Accessory Designer , a Fashion Designer , a Cartoonist , a Furniture Designer after studying B.Des. (Bachelor of Design).

I am pursuing M.Des. (Master of Design) to become a Costume Designer. What other career options do I have ?

You could become a Graphic Designer , an Accessory Designer , a Footwear Designer , a Fashion Designer after studying M.Des. (Master of Design).

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