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How to Become a Interior Designer

Do you love looking at the inside of houses and figuring out what you can make it look like? What your house looks like on the inside is very important because it represents who you are and how you express yourself, something becoming an interior designer can help you with.

Think about doing that for other people. Just being able to design the inside of their home, decorate, pick out color schemes, etc. sounds like a job for someone who likes designing. If you are interested in becoming an interior designer, then follow this guide on how to become an interior designer.

What Is an Interior Designer?

An interior designer uses art and design to create aesthetically-pleasing spaces and environments for their clients.

What Does an Interior Designer Do?

An interior designer does research for their client to make sure they have the aesthetically-pleasing space they are looking for before completing a design plan.

Essential Interior Designer Skills

An interior designer must have a wide variety of skills. These include artsy skills to interpersonal skills. Some of the skills you must have are:

  • Be organized
  • Be artistic and creative
  • Ability to listen and communicate effectively
  • Be able to follow and identify trends
  • Able to pay attention to detail

Day-to-Day Duties

The day-to-day duties of an interior designer are pretty broad. They do a lot to ensure that their projects are going smoothly and their clients are happy. Some of the things you will do are:

  • Listen to the client to figure out what they want and what their goals are
  • Develop a timeline for designs and construction
  • Work closely and oversee construction for the project
  • Sketch the plans and consider how you will be using the space
  • Figure out what the traffic flow of the space will be. Example, how people can utilize the space and how they will be walking around
  • Determine how much the project will cost
  • Be able to pinpoint which materials you will be using, where lighting fixtures and different furnishings should be around the space
  • Understand building codes and comply with your designs
  • Lastly, make sure the client is satisfied

There is a lot that goes into designing a space. You must be able to pay attention to detail to ensure the client is satisfied with the final product. This job also requires a lot of communication with the construction company, vendors, and clients to make sure that the work timeline is being considered and that they do not run into any issues with installing it all.

After construction is completed and the client is satisfied, some clients may hire an interior decorator to decorate the space. They will look at what you have done with the colors and aesthetics and figure out what furnishings and art will match it.

Difference Between an Interior Designer and Interior Decorator

While many people think that these two things are the same thing, they are different.

An interior designer is responsible for designing functional spaces to create an aesthetically pleasing area that includes color schemes, layout and design, and more.

An interior decorator is responsible for decorating an interior space with furniture, lighting fixtures, and decorations and artwork in relation to the aesthetics that the designer has laid out.

Building Your Portfolio

Your portfolio is very important for you to have. It includes all your past work, drawings, and designs that you have done in school and past projects you have worked on. It should also include before and after shots of your work so the client knows what you are capable of doing.

The best way to showcase your portfolio is to create your own portfolio website. This is the most accessible way for you to show your potential clients your work. You should be able to show the best, high-quality photos of your best work. It gains trust in the clients that you know what you are doing.

For clients coming to meet you, you should also think of a hardcopy portfolio. It can look like a book and have pages that they can flip through to see your work.

Interior Designer Salaries and Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average amount that an interior designer makes in the United States is $56,040 per year. The job outlook for this career path is estimated to grow four percent by 2028.

Jobs You Can Get as an Interior Designer

There are many jobs you can get in this field. Being a designer makes you more marketable to work broader jobs. Depending on what you want to do and get into, here are some jobs that you are able to get:

  • Be an Interior Designer
    • You are able to do freelance work, work for an architect firm, retail stores, theatre or TV studios, or a consulting agency specializing in design.
  • Exhibition Designer
    • These designers work in museums, retail stores, art galleries, etc. to design showcases for new products or things on display.
  • Kitchen Designer
    • Instead of focusing on designing the whole house, your main job is to focus only on the kitchen. Here you are responsible for the functionality and aesthetics of the kitchen. You must design where things are going to be placed, room for replacing those items, how they will be hooked up, what materials can be used and can it withstand the wear of being in a kitchen.
  • Furniture Designer
    • Being a furniture designer can be a fun job. Your job is to design furniture and pieces that would add to the aesthetics of the job you are doing. You must have knowledge of design, carpentry, and other construction areas. You will have to have knowledge of the different materials you will use to design these furnishes, whether it be wood, marble, etc.
  • Commercial Designer
    • Instead of working in living spaces, you will be working with office spaces, places to eat, hospitals, etc. Working as a commercial designer gives you the opportunity to specialize in areas if you would like. If you want to only work with designing hospitals, hotels, or office spaces, then you are free to do that.
  • Historical Designer
    • Being a historical designer means that you are responsible for designing and preserving a historical building or landmark. You should have knowledge of how to preserve old items and how to use them in your designs.

How Long Does it Take to Become an Interior Designer?

Depending on what route you want to take, it can take two years of schooling for an interior design associate's degree. If you want to go on to get a bachelor's degree, it will take four years.

How to Become an Interior Designer: A Step by Step Guide

If you think an interior design career is for you, then follow these steps to get you started.

Step 1: Go to Interior Design School

Although getting a degree is not needed for this profession, most interior design firms require it. So it would be a good idea to get a bachelor's degree in this field. Getting a bachelors puts you ahead of your competitors aiming for the same job and you learn a lot about the field.

In school, you will learn a lot about how to draw spaces, color theory, 2D and 3D design, and more. You will learn how to balance a room, lighting, what furniture to use, lighting fixtures, mood settings, and trends.

The most important thing to do while in school is to build your portfolio. Through your classwork, internships, and your personal drawings, make sure that you are constantly designing and adding to your portfolio.

Find a great school that has a wonderful interior design accreditation. Here are the best Interior Design Schools in the United States. If you are looking to get your degree online, there are many options that offer great online programs.

Step 2: Gain Experience

While in school, try to find entry-level jobs or internships to gain experience. This will build your portfolio and help you find interior designer jobs when you are looking. This experience plus education will set you up to get your certificate.

Step 3: Get Your Certificate

After you have gotten some experience and education, you are qualified to take a state-required exam for the National Council For Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ). This exam covers many things. It covers building codes, construction, project coordination, and more. Most firms and potential clients feel more comfortable with designers having this certification.

Step 4: Start Your Career

After having experience and gaining your NCIDQ certification, you are officially ready to start your career in the interior design field. You may apply to design firms and work your magic. Make sure you have a broad portfolio to show off and to keep adding to it. Your portfolio is everything.

Should You Become an Interior Designer?

After reading this step-by-step guide, you should have a good idea if this career is right for you. A lot of design and work goes into it, but if you are passionate about working with houses and spaces to make them aesthetically pleasing, then it would be good to consider.

You are able to work with many different people and work on projects that require your creative mind. Remember, you are designing based on what your client wants, not what you like. So if you feel like this career is for you, do your research and get started today.


Should I go to school for interior design?
Although it isn’t needed, it would be a good idea to gain experience and knowledge in the field. Most employers want to see that you have a degree.
How much can I make as an interior designer?
In the United States, you can make on average $56,040 per year.
What skills should I have to become an interior designer?
Be artsy and creative, have good communication and listening skills, be organized, and pay close attention to detail.
How do I build my portfolio?
Build your portfolio with all of the projects that you have done. If you don’t have professional work experience yet, then fill it with classwork projects you have created and have received good grades on.
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