How to become an interior designer in 2024

Last updated: July 22, 2024
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Eleana Bowman
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How to become an interior designer in 2024
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Do you have an eye for design, a creative flair, and the ability to bring dull spaces alive? If so, a career as an interior designer might be right for you!

Interior designers enhance indoor spaces with their creativity, innovation, and skillful use of color. However, there are more requirements than just having a good eye for design.

This article will explore what an interior designer is and the skills required to become one. We’ll also look at the qualifications and experience needed, job duties and responsibilities, the current demand for interior designers, and the average salary for people in this career.

What is an interior designer?

An interior designer is a professional who understands design principles and works with clients to create both aesthetically pleasing and functional spaces. Interior designers have an eye for detail, color, and texture, as well as a knowledge of building codes, furniture styles, and construction materials. They are also skilled in problem-solving and able to think outside the box when it comes to creating unique solutions for their clients.

Interior design requires time and dedication, but it can be extremely rewarding. Designers use their creative skills to transform spaces while making their clients feel comfortable and safe in their environments. They create beautiful and functional areas with their strong understanding of design, eye for detail, and creative mind.

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Without the help of an interior designer, many rooms would lack the style and functionality that home and business owners desire.

The United States has roughly 181,773 interior design employees as of 2023, so it’s clearly a popular field.

If you want to start a career as an interior designer, you must have a passion for design and the skills to bring a space together.

Interior designer job duties and responsibilities

The job duties of an interior designer can vary depending on each client’s needs. Regular responsibilities, however, may include the following:

Meeting with clients

One of the most fundamental duties of an interior designer is meeting with clients. This includes discussing the client’s needs and preferences, learning about the space they want to design, understanding the client’s budget, and creating a plan of action. With an interior designer’s help, a client can enjoy the space of their dreams.

Creating preliminary sketches

After meeting with a client, an interior designer creates preliminary sketches to present the client with design concepts. These sketches help the client visualize the layout of the space, the furniture placement, and more. Many designers also use computer-aided design programs to help them create detailed visuals.

Developing design plans

Interior designers develop detailed designs based on each client’s tastes and budget. This includes planning the layout of rooms, furniture placement, lighting fixtures, and other elements. They also select finishes, fixtures, furniture, and other materials to complete the design.

Creating presentations

Interior designers create design presentations to present to their clients. These presentations outline the design plan and include visuals of the space itself. This is essential to the job, as it helps clients understand what the designer intends to create.

Communicating with contractors

Interior designers also communicate with contractors and subcontractors throughout the project. This includes making sure all of the materials have been ordered, scheduling installations, and dealing with any problems that arise.

Supervising the design installation

The installation of the design is the last step in the interior design process. Interior designers often work with contractors and subcontractors to verify that each project element is up to code. They also make sure that the installation goes smoothly and follows the plan laid out in the initial presentation.

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If you’re ready to land a new job in interior design, make sure you highlight the above responsibilities in your resume. That way, prospective employers can see that you have the skills and experience necessary for a successful design career.

Interior designer salary and demand

The average salary and job demand for interior designers can vary depending on the state and city they live in, as specific markets have more needs than others.

Generally, the median pay for interior designers is $60,340 annually in the U.S. An entry-level interior designer may earn less, and a more experienced designer can earn significantly more.

In terms of job demand, the outlook for interior designers is limited. However, that doesn’t mean job opportunities won’t be available in the coming years.

Data suggests that there will be around 8,200 new openings in this field each year until at least 2031. This means you’ll find great future job opportunities in interior design if you have the right skills and experience.

Training and education needed to become an interior designer

As with any job, it’s crucial to have the proper training and education in interior design. Most individuals who pursue a career in interior design obtain at least a bachelor’s degree in the field, though some may choose to also complete a master’s degree.

Let’s look in detail at the specific education and training you’ll need to become an interior designer.

Obtain a four-year degree

A four-year degree is the first requirement to become an interior designer. Generally, this will be in either interior design or architecture, though some schools offer more specialized programs.

It’s important to check with your school and state to ensure that the degree you’re pursuing meets licensing requirements.

While some interior designers choose to obtain a certificate or associate’s degree in interior design, keep in mind that most design firms prefer a four-year degree. This degree gives designers the knowledge and skills they’ll need to succeed in the field.

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Gain experience through internships or apprenticeships

In addition to a degree, interior designers may benefit from gaining real-world experience through internships or apprenticeships. These experiences can help designers learn more about the industry and acquire the necessary technical skills to succeed in it. Some schools may even offer credit for internships or apprenticeships.

Participating in an apprenticeship or internship is a great way to get hands-on experience and establish valuable contacts. It also allows designers to learn about the latest trends in interior design, opening the door to future opportunities.

Interior designers must stay updated on the new trends and technologies emerging in the industry. This includes researching new materials, colors, lighting, and furniture choices.

Doing this will help ensure that the designers continue to create aesthetically pleasing designs — and remain competitive in the market as a result.

Designers should also stay abreast of changing regulations and safety standards, as these things can affect their work.

Pursue professional certification

Certification demonstrates a designer’s expertise in the field and proves that they are qualified for the job. As a result, it can enhance an interior designer’s marketability and increase their earning potential.

The National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam is among the interior designer community’s most widely accepted certifications. It is a rigorous exam that tests individuals’ knowledge of building and safety codes, materials, products, regulations, ethical practices, and design theory.

Passing this exam can help demonstrate a designer’s expertise, making them more attractive to prospective employers.

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Some of the other steps an aspiring interior designer might take to start their career include the following:

  • Attending workshops, seminars, or conferences to increase their knowledge of the design industry

  • Joining professional organizations to network with other interior designers

  • Taking additional classes in design, such as color theory or computer-aided drafting

  • Participating in competitions or contests within the field

  • Maintaining a portfolio of their past work to showcase to potential employers

Interior design skills that can help your career

Once you decide to pursue a career in interior design, there are specific skills you’ll need to excel.

Creative and artistic abilities will help you bring your vision of a space to life. At the same time, technical knowledge in architecture, engineering, and construction will be essential.

Let’s examine these in more detail.

Creative and artistic abilities

It’s extremely helpful for an aspiring interior designer to already have a general sense — almost an instinct — of what looks aesthetically pleasing. Mastering the ability to visualize a space’s potential and understanding color theory and design principles are also essential for the job.

Some individuals are born with an eye for design, but those lacking natural creative abilities can hone their skills through classes and workshops in drawing, painting, sculpting, and other art forms. Practicing your craft and experimenting with different design styles can help you decide which direction to take in your career.

Technical knowledge

Interior designers will need some level of technical expertise to create beautiful yet safe designs. This includes a thorough understanding of building codes and regulations as well as the materials and products available on the market.

Knowing how to use design software such as AutoCAD or SketchUp will also be helpful when creating complex plans or models.

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There is a lot to learn in the field of interior design, so prospective designers must stay up to date on the latest trends and technologies. Additionally, each state has different licensing requirements, so it’s essential to research the regulations in your area to ensure you have met all the necessary qualifications.

Excellent communication skills

Interior designers must be able to communicate clearly with clients, contractors, architects, engineers, and any other professionals who might be involved in a project.

Strong problem-solving skills and the ability to think on your feet will also be helpful when working with clients who have atypical needs or requests.

A person can develop strong communication skills not only during training but also from past experiences. For example, they can use the retail skills they learned from working in a furniture store to their advantage when speaking with clients or vendors.

Scheduling and project management skills

Interior designers must be able to do more than just come up with aesthetically pleasing designs. They need to be organized and able to stay on top of tight deadlines.

Researching, planning, budgeting, scheduling, and project management skills will also help ensure that each project is completed on time and within the client’s budget.

Researching and budgeting

As an interior designer, you must understand the costs and materials associated with each project. Researching the market for specific items and comparing prices between vendors is essential to getting the best deal possible.

Furthermore, accurately estimating costs and creating budgets will help ensure that clients avoid overspending on their design projects.

Learn more about how to become an interior designer

An interior designer’s job requires more than just creative and artistic ability. Technical knowledge in areas such as architecture, engineering, and construction is essential for a successful career in this field.

Excellent communication and strong problem-solving abilities are also key components to becoming a successful interior designer. There’s a lot to learn in the design field, so prospective designers need to engage in continuing education and stay up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies.

If you’re ready to jump-start a new career, check out the Getting Hired Resource Center for resume advice, interview tips, and more helpful information on finding a new job. With the right skills and experience, you can make your dream career a reality.

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