Career in Shoe Design

Ever wonder how Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Asics, and all the other big name shoe brands come out with 10 new shoes a year that tend to just get better and better looking? These companies invest millions in research and development and designs. Their shoes are currently designed a couple years in advance as they go through real world testing and focus groups first. Before a shoe gets a green light for production, they show them to people and ask their thoughts about the design and colors to gauge their interest. Often times, these companies will make changes based on the feedback from the focus groups.

To make a shoe, a company needs to hire all sorts of different people. People to engineer the sole, choose the materials, design, product name, how to market it, who to sponsor, etc. There are probably tons of more aspects that I missed, but I digress. Today, we’re going to be talking about a career in shoe design. Shoe designers will typically sketch out initial designs based on the direction given to them through pen and paper and computer software. Successful shoe designers for large companies make well over six figures a year.

In order to become a shoe designer, one needs to be well versed in all different types of design software and be knowledgeable about shoe design history and modern concepts. To land one of these jobs, people first need experience at smaller companies or companies who sell inexpensive shoes, because it is much easier to get the job and it builds your experience of shoe design first. Shoe designers are just a tiny niche in the whole industry of design, so if you make it your specialty, then you have a huge advantage of landing a shoe design job at a large company such as Nike and New Balance.

To get an idea of what top shoe design looks like, take a look at the best walking shoes and you can see the detail and thought that goes into each one. Shoes of all kinds is a big industry with men and women, but the women’s market is much larger because research shows that women own more than twice the amount of shoes that men do. So it is a good idea to also look at the best walking shoes for women and see the current trend on women’s walking shoes. Walking shoes is the biggest industry for shoes today even above running and fashion. We recommend building your own portfolio of what you think is the best walking shoe with at least 5 different designs. With a portfolio of shoe-related designs in hand, your chances of getting a job as shoe designer increase dramatically.

Shoe design is a tiny niche in the entire industry of design, but that doesn’t mean shoe designers make little money. Top shoe designers typically earn over $150,000 per year with additional bonuses. Before you decide your dream career is in shoe design, first try and design your own shoes first to see if you like it. If you do, keep practicing until you can include five original pieces of shoe designs that you think are your best work to present during an interview.