The footwear industry employs over one million people and if official figures are to be believed, India is the world's second largest producer of leather footwear with an estimated production of over 900 million pairs per annum. The export scenario, too, is bright. Over the last five years. India's overall footwear designers is exports have been growing at 12 per cent per annum.

Hence, the demand for footwear designers is huge. A flair for visual conceptualisation and sketching are essential prerequisites for footwear designers. To be a designer, one needs to have artistic skills, be creative and have a keen eye for colour and texture. One also needs to have a scientific aptitude, be well-versed in interpersonal skills, have the analytical abilities and business acumen. As a designer, your job is to take the concept from the idea stage to the product stage.

There are not many institutes in India that offer courses in footwear technology. The Footwear Design and Development Institute, with Centres in Noida, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore, provides a two year Postgraduate Diploma (PGD) in footwear technology management. One needs to be a graduate in any discipline or be a diploma holder in leather/footwear technology or a graduate in engineering in order to be able to pursue this course. The institute also provides a three year undergraduate Diploma in Footwear Technology.

The supervisory course at the FDDI in footwear technology is a one-year programme available to those who have completed their plus two/intermediate level. The National Institute of Fashion Technology, too, provides a one year programme in Footwear Designing and Production Technology (eligibility 10+2). The Central Footwear Training Institute, Agra, offers a number of courses in footwear design. Other institutes that offer courses are The Central Leather Research Institute and the Central Footwear Training Institute in Chennai.

After the course students can start their careers as management trainees, assistant managers, and managers in different areas of production, marketing and merchandising. Large companies like Reebok, Adidas, Nike, Woodland, Lakhani, Lifestyle, pick up trained professionals from campus. You could even work as a freelancer. A fresher can earn as much as Rs.15,000 to Rs.30,000 as starting salary, depending on his/her talent.

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