A career in interior design requires technical and creative design skills to visualize and plan a new space. Top interior designers often work for architecture or building construction companies as a part of the custom home design process. Other interior designers work for larger companies to plan commercial interiors. Hotels are another common employer for interior designers. The average salary for an interior designer is 47,000 a year, with many variances in pay based on the state of employment.
What Skills Do Interior Designers Need?
All interior designers, no matter where they work, will need strong project management skills. Completing any interior design project requires the simultaneous organization of everything from the drawing process to construction supply orders. An interior designer must also have a well-developed sense of interior design style and should be able to identify the trends and best practices for home and commercial spatial design. Having an eye for interior design and what makes a space comfortable and functional is essential.
Interior design professionals often succeed in finding new projects or clients based on their previous experience and project portfolio. And while interior design often focuses on the creative planning process, it usually involves taking the time to meet with clients, hear what they have in mind, and present the construction plans for their space. For this reason, communication skills or experience working in customer service often assists with working in this field.
The interior design process typically involves drawing or sketching a visual design plan using specialized computer software. Many of these plans are architectural and thereby similar to blueprints. In either case, interior designers must be familiar with CAD (Computer-Aided Design) and have some skill with drafting their project plans in these programs.
What’s the Difference Between an Interior Designer and an Interior Decorator?
Interior decorators have a more narrow focus- their projects involve finding the furniture, paint colors, and layout for existing rooms. Interior decoration is often part of an interior designer’s job, but only partly. A considerable portion of interior design work focuses on architectural designs, with consideration for practical needs such as heating, electricity, and the incorporation of natural light. For this reason, interior designers usually need more education and qualifications to get started.
What Education Do I Need for Working in Interior Design?
If you are interested in working as an interior designer, you’ll likely begin by getting an associate’s or bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Many architecture and custom home design firms require a bachelor’s degree. Interior design students usually focus their studies on architecture and computer-aided design. As bachelor’s programs, these study areas often include the basics of a liberal arts degree.
Once you’ve obtained a bachelor’s or associate’s degree in a related field, you will need professional training from an internship or apprenticeship. Acceptance into these programs can be somewhat limited, so you’ll want to have a portfolio of interior design ideas for presentation. Most professional training opportunities come directly from interior design firms or architectural contract companies.
Receiving an entry-level job in interior design before receiving an official qualification is rare, but there may be some opportunities in your area. It’s often best to familiarize yourself with a few of these interior design firms that you might want to work for beforehand to see what kind of opportunities they might have available in the future.
What Qualifications Do I Need for Interior Design Work?
After completing a degree and working or interning in the interior design industry for two years, you will qualify for official certification through the (CIDQ) Council for Interior Design Qualification. The CIDQ exam measures your ability to design spaces based on the principles of public health and safety codes. Understanding the principles of construction safety is also essential, as are the basics of design for hospitality spaces where the property owner is liable for almost anything that happens within the building.
You can read more about getting qualified and studying for the test on the CIDQ exam page. You’ll also find information on their site for how to register for the exam and check eligibility based on work experience. Once you receive your certification, you’ll officially be able to work as an interior designer within your state. There are a few states where interior design work does not require a CIDQ qualification, but for the most part, the CIDQ qualification is a legal necessity for design work.
What Else Can I Do to Prepare for Working as an Interior Designer?
Practice makes perfect, particularly when it comes to working with CAD (computer-aided design) software. Throughout your educational and professional journey towards qualification, you’ll want to continue building a professional portfolio to showcase your creative ability in conjunction with the design principles you have learned.
You can also prepare for future work by staying connected with the world of interior design through professional industry publications from organizations like the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). Here are a few additional publications about interior design you may want to consider reading. You’ll also want to connect with other successful or aspiring designers and network within your industry whenever possible.
Conclusion– How to Become an Interior Designer
In total, becoming an interior designer usually takes at least five to six years. You’ll spend most of this time learning the industry best practices, the principles of interior design, and how to use CAD software. Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to practice your technical drawing and blueprint drafting skills to develop a professional portfolio that prepares you for employment. A career in interior design is fantastic for someone who likes to work creatively and has an eye for what makes a stylish and practical space.