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How to become a Costume Designer

Costume Designers design and create costumes for actors in film, television and on stage. They enhance authenticity and encourage imagination by creating costumes accurate to individual settings and time periods. Costume Designers also design costumes for fancy dress and specific events (e.g. Halloween) and costumes sold in retail outlets.

Are you creative with an eye for detail and work well under pressure? A career as a costume designer could be perfect for you.

About you:

  • Artistic with good colour and design sense
  • Knowledge of fashion, pattern making and sewing
  • Works to strict deadlines and thrives under pressure

The job:

  • Work with customers or directors to determine the style of costumes and budget
  • Research to ensure you get the details right
  • Take accurate measurements and prepare materials for production
  • Undertake or supervise the creation, alteration, and repair of costumes

Lifestyle Impact: Low

  • Part Time opportunities: Moderate – around 28% of Costume Designers work part-time (source: labourmarketinsights.gov.au).
  • Average hours for full-time workers: 46 hours a week, which is just above average (source: labourmarketinsights.gov.au).
  • Costume Designers’ salary (average) $53,500* per year (source: ato.gov.au). *Salaries vary depending on your skills and experience.
  • Future career growth: Very strong (source: labourmarketinsights.gov.au).
  • You will be doing most of your work indoors, in studios or offices.
  • You might work in-house for a company, or freelance out of your own home or studio.

Costume Designers are most in demand in these locations:

Demand for Costume Designers is highest in Victoria and New South Wales. Most work in the Professional, Scientific and Technical Services, and Manufacturing industries.

How to become a Costume Designer in Australia

A degree isn’t essential for entry to this career, but some formal training may be preferred by employers unless you have an amazing resume and portfolio of your works.

Step 1 – Study English, Maths, and any creative classes that inspire you at high school.

Step 2 – Get relevant work experience by volunteering at your local theatre or film company.

Step 3 – Choose and complete a relevant qualification. Consider VET pathways. Examples include:

Step 4 – Find an internship or mentor and gain further work experience. Make useful industry contacts and keep an up to date portfolio of your works.

Step 5 – Continue to build on your skills through professional experience and short courses.

Find out more here –


Similar Careers to Costume Designer

Fashion Stylist

Event Planner

Interior Designer

Makeup Artist

Food Stylist

Location Scout

Corporate Stylist

Visual Merchandiser

Set Designer


Find out more about alternative careers.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long does it take to become a Costume Designer?

Becoming a costume designer could take 4 to 5 years after leaving high school if you do a degree. Otherwise you could start in a junior role as soon as you leave school and work your way up.

Where do Costume Designers work?

Costume designers work as part of a team for theatre and film companies, television stations, and video production houses – often working alongside the director, make-up artists, set designers and other creatives. You could find yourself working on set, backstage, in an office, or in a workshop.

Do I need to go to university to become a Costume Designer?

No, you don’t have to go to university. But relevant qualifications and lots of work experience could fast track your career and open up more opportunities.

Is Costume Design a good career to aim for?

If you love the creative arts and would like a career that could be flexible and varied, costume design could be a rewarding career for you.


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