Have you ever walked into a home or commercial office building and been impressed by the design, layout and colors of the interior space? Perhaps you noticed how well the space served the needs of the people in the room and how it seemed to be tailored specifically to their activities. If so, what impressed you was probably the work of an interior designer. The role of an interior designer begins with trying to understand what an interior space must have in order to meet the needs of its occupants. The interior designer then creates and implements a plan to achieve those objectives.
What Skills Must an Interior Designer Have?
First of all, an interior designer must have good communication skills. They must be able to listen to clients, understand their space requirements and explain how they will turn those requirements into a workable plan. They must also be able to pay attention to detail without losing sight of the big picture. Basic computer skills are also needed to show a client how a finished space would look and function. Interior designers must also be able to accept feedback and tweak their designs to suit clients. Additionally, they must have a thorough knowledge of building codes and understand how those codes influence design.
What Certificate or Degree Do You Need to Be an Interior Designer?
Most interior designers will need to earn at least an associate degree in arts or applied science. An associate degree in arts may be more general and geared toward moving on to earn a bachelor’s degree in arts. An associate degree in applied science, though, may be more practical and allow a student to begin working in an entry level position immediately after graduation. Both types of associate degrees are likely to include basic courses in design and construction plus computer-aided graphics. Some schools may offer an associate degree in interior design that combines art with applied science.
Associate Degree in Applied Science
If a student wants to fast track their career while pursuing an associate degree in applied science, they may be able to take specific courses related to interior design. Such courses might include graphic design, AutoCAD, digital photography and basic construction practices. Courses in textiles, basic architecture and three-dimensional design would also be helpful. The courses that would be the greatest benefit to students who want to begin their careers as soon as possible would be those courses that combine lectures with practical lab exercises.
Bachelor’s Degree in Interior Design
A bachelor’s degree in any subject might be enough to allow a student to pursue a career in interior design. However, a degree that targets specific areas related to design would be more helpful, such as a degree in arts. Some colleges even offer a bachelor’s degree in interior design. Such degree programs typically include courses in interior space planning, sustainable designs and materials, color theory and lighting. They may also include practical courses like drawing and sketching, building codes and design studio workshops.
Are Any Certifications or Licenses Required to Be an Interior Designer?
Some states require a person to hold a board-issued license in order to practice interior design. Those states include the District of Columbia, Florida, Nevada and Louisiana. Other states may allow a person to practice interior design without a certificate or license but may restrict the use of the term interior designer. For instance, an interior designer may not be able to use the term “registered” or “certified” unless they actually hold those titles.
Working as an Interior Designer
Interior designers may work in homes, offices, government buildings, retail stores, restaurants and a variety of other building types. They create sketches, drawings and plans that illustrate how the spaces will be used. Their tools may include design software, photos, videos, scale models and 3D images. They choose the wall and ceiling colors, select and arrange the furniture, determine what type of lighting will be used and ensure a functional traffic flow. They must also help to manage the project to make sure that it is completed on time and within budget.
How Much Does an Interior Designer Earn?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of an interior designer in the United States was a little over $60,000 per year or almost $30 per hour in 2021. Even entry level jobs pay as much as $20 per hour or more in 2022 according to indeed.com. Some interior designers and architectural designers earn upwards of $90,000 per year with the lowest 10 percent earning less than $31,000 per year.
How to Find a Job as an Interior Designer
One of the best ways to find a job as an interior designer is through social networking. In many cases, you can rely on relationships that you formed while in school. You can also check job boards like indeed.com, ziprecruiter.com and houzz.com. After you gain enough experience, you may be able to open your own firm or partner with a sister organization, such as an architectural firm. You may also be able to enter into an apprenticeship program while in school. In addition to honing skills and supplementing resumes, successful apprenticeship programs often result in job offers.