How to Become an Interior Designer and Is It Right For You?

Have you decided that you want to become an interior designer but aren’t quite sure where to start? Interior design is a career that pulls together creativity and the chance to redefine the spaces that people use on a regular basis. It’s a great career for those who have a knack for seeing things in a way that’ll provide functionality as well as a great look.

According to Indeed, the average salary of an interior designer in the United States is about $60,000. Your salary will depend on the city and state you will be running your business in, the amount of experience you have, as well as how you market yourself. If you have certifications or further education, you can also expect to earn between $5,000 and $20,000 more.

What is an Interior Designer?

Many people think that an interior designer arranges furniture in different rooms of a house but that’s usually the role of an interior decorator. An interior decorator is a field that has no requirements in terms of education or certification.

An interior designer can do the job of an interior decorator but an interior decorator cannot do the job of an interior designer. Interior designers can adjust the actual architecture of the house or space they are working on to ensure that the client’s needs are met.

Interior designers often work with or consult with contractors, architects, engineers, and homeowners to design a space that is functional, comfortable, and visually appealing. In working with such a variety of people, and communicating the requirements to your own staff, it’s extremely important for interior designers to have the leadership skills to delegate tasks and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

What Type of Education Do Interior Designers Need?

If you’re going to be working on smaller projects, there are no requirements in terms of licenses or education. If you want to start your own business and also do construction projects like remodeling homes/rooms, then depending on your state, a license may be required. Working on commercial projects will almost always require a license, as well as business registrations and certifications.

The National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam is a three-part exam required to get your interior designer certification. The exam can only be written if you have a degree, certificate, or diploma in interior design or architecture as well as at least 2 years of work experience. If you decide to write the NCIDQ exam, expect to invest at least 5 or 6 years of time towards your education and work experience.

What Tools Do Interior Designers Need?

Although drawing interiors and blueprints by hand was common in the past, technology now allows interior designers to quickly mock-up designs in computer-aided design (CAD). There are dozens of CAD software so the one you will end up using will depend on what you learn to use in school, what you’ll be designing, and which interface you personally prefer. If you intend to start your own interior design business, then you should also expect to learn at least some marketing and project management software, they will be especially useful when you first start out.

Is Interior Design a Dying Career?

Interior design is a career that will definitely be growing over the next few years. With the use of social media at an all-time high, everyone wants their living and working space to be designed to look and function well to act as a backdrop to their visual content. In the past year with the pandemic, as people work from home, they’re starting to invest more money into their living space and this opens up a lot of opportunities for interior designers.

The states with the most potential for interior designers are California, Florida, Texas, and New York. Although those 4 states have the highest job opportunities and salaries, interior design is a career that you can pursue in any state or country as long as you have a passion for it.

How Do I Market My Interior Design Business?

When you first start your interior design business, your first few projects will most likely be referrals from friends and family. Make sure you’re taking lots of before and after pictures, these pictures will become the foundation of your marketing in the form of your portfolio. Your portfolio will live on your website as a way for new clients to see past work and make sure your style is what they are looking for.

Besides your portfolio, networking is a great way to get new clients. Sometimes when other interior designers are too busy to take on a project, or if the project is too small/large, they may call you as a referral. You can network through social media such as Facebook groups, or at live events hosted in your city. Another use for networking is if you use a specific product brand. You may run into representatives for that brand at events, and if they like your work, they themselves may start referring clients who want to use their products to you for installation.

Almost every city has a local business directory or chamber of commerce that you can get added to in order to attract new clients. This doesn’t always provide a large number of prospective clients, but the listing is usually free or very nominal so even getting one client from here would be worth the few minutes it takes to get listed.

Advertising is also something that works to get new clients but depending on your business size, it’s definitely possible to stay busy and fully booked without even needing to spend money on advertising.

If you already have an interior design business or are planning to start an interior design business in the near future, feel free to contact us and we can help you in whatever way we can. If you need a company to help with your bookkeeping and/or taxes, we can do that as well.

How to Become an Interior Designer


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