San Francisco’s Academy of Art University is one of a number of schools offering online Masters degree programs specializing in Fine Art (MFA) with a fashion or art emphasis. In the past, people wanting to be in the industry had to live in New York, California, Georgia or Texas to be near the main fashion marts and production areas. Most of the better schools for fashion were in those states. Today, these degrees are available online from respected and accredited institutions from anywhere.

Why would someone want a career in the fashion industry? Simple. There are still jobs in the fashion industry. Many people who work with that industry earn reasonable salaries and do work that they enjoy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and cited by– Numbers for Plugged in Geeking, there are 20,000 fashion designers working in the United States today. By 2016, this field is expected to add 1,000 more jobs. It is not the only segment of the fashion industry that employs people however. There are a large number of jobs related to this industry, about 4 million of them. Segments of employment include: design, manufacturing, distribution, marketing, retailing, advertising, communications, publishing and consulting. Annual sales on fashion account for $250 billion including accessories.

At a time with reduced demand for the majority of industries, fashion held steady. While it didn’t grow, it did not contract either. During a “recession,” not contracting is a major feat. Fashion’s stable revenues makes a pursuing a career in the field both appealing and plausible.

Unlike other industries laying off people, fashion remains relatively stable or growing. There are a wide variety of jobs in fashion. Academy of Art University‘s online program is relatively old. The university launched seven pilot courses in . Today, AAU offers 116 online fashion courses in BFA and MFA Fashion Design, Fashion Journalism, Fashion Illustration and Merchandising. With nearly 12,000 students attending either online or on site, AAU is the largest accredited private art and design University in the United States and one of the oldest. It was established in 1929. Its curriculum is broad encompassing a wide variety of the visual arts. Among the disciplines taught are: advertising, animation & visual effects, architecture, art education, fashion, fine art, game design, graphic design, illustration, industrial design, interior architecture and design; landscape architecture, motion picture and television, multimedia communications, music production & sound design for visual media; photography, and web design and new media.

AAU offers Associates, Bachelors and Masters in most of its disciplines. It is accredited by the following authorities: WASC Accreditation – Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Council for Interior Design Accreditation, The National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) and The National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Several of its schools are accredited by, too. For more schools and information on their accreditation, visit the website.

The median salary for a fashion designer was $64,530 per year in 2010 again, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This leads many to ask who said that one has to starve to be an artist?

Armed with a marketable degree and a critical eye, it is more possible than ever before become the next Diane Von Furstenberg or Michael Kors. However, one thing school can’t teach you is to thicken your skins and prepare to be shredded – the fashion industry is and always will be a cutthroat place.

Written by Drew Hendricks