Did you know that over 57,000 interior designers operate in the United States? It’s quite a lucrative career.
Becoming an interior designer is something you can’t take lightly. It carries a lot of responsibilities since your task is to give homes a unique personality. If you don’t prepare, you’ll end up getting overwhelmed.
Don’t feel discouraged yet.
With this guide, you’ll learn the necessary steps to become an interior designer. Read on and find out how to make your dream career come true.
Interior Designer vs. Interior Decorator: What’s the Difference?
Most people confuse the two terms as interchangeable, but the truth is they’re two independent jobs. Their objectives align in that they aim to make spaces feel beautiful and cohesive. But the latter is all about making the space beautiful using furniture and other décors.
That means interior decorators work with the existing space to make it beautiful. Interior designers take it one step further: they design the space itself. It means these people have a more monumental task ahead of them.
Why hire an interior designer? Read this guide to find out. That way, you’ll know the reasons people get interior designers for their home improvement projects.
What are the Necessary Skills and Qualifications for Interior Designing?
Starting an interior design career is a serious undertaking. You have to prepare if you don’t want to become one of the 80% of businesses that fail within its first 18 months. Here are the skills and qualifications you must have before starting.
1. Education, Experience, and License
Most states require you to pass a certification test before working. To qualify, you must get an interior design degree and have at least two years of work experience. Upon attaining eligibility, you’ll take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification exam (NCIDQ).
This will test your knowledge of various related aspects of your work. This includes building permits and codes, construction standards, design application, professional practice, and more.
2. Project Management Skills
As an interior designer, you’re at the head of a design project from its inception to its completion. That’s why you must have formidable communication and project management skills. This allows you to get things done, such as:
- Keeping project organization
- Managing deadlines
- Client and vendor communication
You must communicate in a way that ensures all parties stay happy. The way you talk must be clear enough to set proper expectations. This ensures no one gets sidelined by unexpected demands or expenses.
3. Digital Design Skills
Sketching and drawing are vital to the interior design process. But if you aim to become a professional-level interior designer, you must learn to use the computer. Finalize your project blueprints using a CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software.
As an aspiring designer, you must grasp the fundamentals of this software. Otherwise, complex design projects might be out of your reach.
4. The Design Eye
This is a common thing lots of interior designers talk about. It’s how you pay attention to designs and the way you interpret them. To have a successful career, nurturing your design eye is a must.
Becoming an Interior Designer: 5 Steps
The process of taking up professional interior designing can vary for each person. But the following steps are things most people use to kickstart their careers.
1. Educate Your Eyes
Honing your eye is something possible regardless of your age, whether you’re in a design school or aspiring to become an interior designer at a later part of your life. To develop your design sensibility, the most important thing to remember is to have an intimate awareness of your surroundings.
For example, put some attention to graphic design, architecture, landscapes, and clothing designs. All have meaning and emotion attached to them. To learn in a more controlled environment, visit museums and art galleries.
2. Go to School
Firms require an interior designer to hold at least a bachelor’s degree. However, depending on the business, the requirements can be as little as an associate degree. On the opposite side of the spectrum, more prestigious establishments will only hire you if you have a master’s degree.
These firms prefer fields relevant to interior designing, like architecture and design theory. You have a major edge if you pursue education from an official interior design program approved by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA).
If you finished other degrees instead, try taking coursework related to design. For example, you can take courses related to fine arts or color theory. This will fill in the gaps in your studies.
3. Look for Formal Training
After your graduation, look for career opportunities related to experience-building. This enables you to build your portfolio.
As a general rule, you must have two years of on-the-job training experience. You must do this full-time before marketing yourself as an official interior designer.
A good way to start is to get apprenticeships, internships, and entry-level jobs. The good news is that most interior design firms are willing to give these jobs.
4. Get Licenses
After finishing your education and experience-gathering, you now have the eligibility for the NCIDQ. It’s the official standard for interior design in most areas in North America. Certification shows your qualifications and dedication to your career.
Your clients will see this and know you mean serious business. It’s the best method of getting a great start for your interior design career.
5. Work for a Firm or Start Your Interior Design Business
With your license achieved, you’re now free to do any interior design-related employment. Regardless of whether it’s working with a firm or founding your small business, you paid the price for this freedom. But know that the former is a great choice until you amass both money and experience to establish your own.
Start an Interior Design Career Today!
These are important qualifications and steps to becoming an interior designer. Use these to guide how you progress with your dream career.
Did this guide encourage you to become an interior designer? Take a look at some of our other posts to learn more important career tips and tricks today.