Shoe Design Jobs: Can I get one? Yes!

Shoe Design Jobs and More!

Can I get a job in the shoe world?  Do you want a job at a shoe factory?  Probably not.  More likely you want a job at a company that designs, markets and sell shoes! You want to work for a brand like Nike, Adidas, Puma, Vans or DC shoes.  You want to be a sneaker designer to a sneaker stitcher.

So, what kinds of jobs can you get and what do you need to know?
There are many shoe making jobs which do not require sitting in front of a sewing machine in Asia. I’m going to list a few of the common jobs you would find in a typical shoe development office.

Shoe Designers:
Someone has to draw the shoes. Depending on who you ask, this is the easiest part or the hardest. The shoe designer has to draw what people want on their feet. Hmm..
To be a shoe designer, art school would be a great help. There are many great design shools with ID, merchandising and fashion design.   A degree in Industrial or Product design is a great place to start. But that said, if you can draw shoes like a bandit who needs higher education?   The designers draw the shoes, then work with the developers to make the prototypes just right. Picking color trends and knowing what is cool are critical skills.

Shoe Developers:
Not a shoe designer but critical to getting the shoes made. It’s the shoe developers job to take a nice drawing and make it into a real shoe you can wear on your feet. The developer is the guy that writes the technical specifications, checks the blue prints, and communicates with the shoe factory.
The shoe developers job is to get the shoe made and keep the free thinking designers from making a beautiful shoe that is cruel to wear. Developers are the shoe prototype engineers and schedule keepers. To be a developer you may start as a designer, an intern or assistant. Be ready to travel!

Product Managers or Product Line Managers:
The Footwear Product Manager or “PM” is the person that sets designer and developer in motion. It’s the PM’s job to figure out what to make. The PM will tell the designer what kind of shoe to make. PM’s responsibility is to work with the sales team and customers to find out what they need. The PM is also tasked with looking forward. What will people need next year? What color shoes will be trending? Experience in retail or sales is a big help. Designer and developers are often promoted to this position. A marketing degree will help.

Footwear Sample Coordinator:
A busy development office will have hundreds of shoes coming and going. The Sample Coordinator is the traffic cop that tracks where the shoes are. Are the samples still in China? When is the factory going to ship them? Does Fed-Ex need more paperwork to manage the import? The sample coordinator position is a great entry level position for learning the operations of shoe development.

Shoe Sales Representative and Sub Rep:
Selling shoes is great way to get involved. The sales force is exposed to many aspects of the shoe trade. An active sales rep can help shape the product line. On the front line selling the shoes, the salesmen know first hand what customers are looking for. A salesmen can get promoted into a Product Line Manager position.

Working at a shoe store:
Believe it or not, working in a shoe store is a great place to start for a high school or college student. Learn about shoes, meet the local sales reps and sit in with the buyers when they review the new shoe lines.