How to Start a Career Or Business In Interior Design

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Are you wondering if you have what it takes to become an interior designer? There are a number of valuable qualities that are important to have to start a career and to be successful. Let's examine some key factors. First of all, interior designers are usually highly creative people who possess their own sense of style. They often enjoy a keen sense of fashion. They are naturally good at combining colors and textures to create visually appealing combinations that evoke a sense of emotion and that are exceptionally pleasing to the eye.


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Interior designers must be able to see beyond the current environment and actually visualize what they hope to accomplish as an end result. Visualizing an environment is an art, but experience plays a role in understanding what to expect once the project is completed.

Interior designers must be able to look at a space and see all kinds of possibilities. Being able to identify both the positives and negatives about a particular space will help them make the best of what they have to work with. Designers often specialize in a particular area, such as green spaces, home design or corporate workspaces.

Anyone considering interior design as a profession will have numerous questions, including: Is a degree in design necessary to break in? Will I have to work for an agency or can I strike out on my own?

How to Become an Interior Designer

Should I specialize in a specific area of design? Becoming a professional interior designer takes more than creativity. A successful career also requires formal education and training, discipline, determination and strong business and marketing skills. Each level of an academic degree opens new and different doors to aspiring designers and this guide provides aspiring interior designers with pertinent information.

Like other industries, experience, geographical factors and the type of interior design being completed also influence annual salaries. Interior designers in the architecture and engineering industry have the highest median wage.

A Day in the life of an Interior Designer

Those considering interior design as a career can take heart knowing the industry is robust, with projections of 13 percent growth between and Those specializing in environmental design will be on the forefront of this growth, with interest in sustainability expected to lead the charge towards further developing the field. Another important area will be accessibility design, a field emphasizing the importance of creating spaces that can be easily navigated.

Curious about growth in your state for this career? Select a state below for more information about employment and job growth for interior designers. A degree in the specific field is preferred, but one in another area is generally acceptable as long as it is accompanied by coursework in interior design, such as drawing and computer-aided design CAD. Programs in interior design can be found at many major colleges and universities, as well as specialized art and design institutes.

The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredit approximately post-secondary institutions with art and design programs. Interior Decorator. Not all states require the licensure of interior designers.

Learn Formal Concepts, Methods & Theory

There are several, however, prohibiting unlicensed designers from doing interior design work. Interior designers may also consider voluntary certification in a specific area. Specialty certifications are independent of the NCIDQ and are commonly available through professional and trade associations. Interior designers, particularly those starting out, may find it difficult to get hired without existing work experience. The trouble is, of course, that it is impossible to gain experience without doing work. Many new interior designers start out by practicing their craft for free.

Designers can offer their services to friends and family, or volunteer to help local non-profit services or organizations, or even small business unable to pay a professional designer. New designers can even work on their own homes. The important thing is to develop the skills needed when real paying jobs come along.

Be sure to take quality photographs of all of your work and compile them into a professional portfolio. A high-quality, comprehensive portfolio is the most crucial tool for interior designers seeking clients. It not only allows potential clients to view your best work, but it will also show off your ability to present yourself in a professional and well-organized manner.

Additionally, many interior designers today maintain online versions of their portfolios. There are many professional certifications designers can undertake as well as staying abreast of trends and changes through attending interior design conferences. A number of institutions have certificates in specialty areas, including: sustainable design, spatial theory, corporate interior design and designing historic spaces. Furthermore, lots of conferences, workshops and summits are offered by many organizations throughout the year. Those in the field must possess creativity, technical proficiency, and business acumen to be truly successful.

Thankfully, myriad interior design programs exist and instill these skills at every degree level.

Business Overview

Interior design programs are offered at the associate to doctoral level and professional certificates are also available for continuing education. Many degree programs provide an array of concentrations, allowing students to hone their skills on a specific area, such as kitchen design or environmentally sustainable materials.


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  6. The chart below can help potential students understand which degree best matches their career goals. Whether the applicant desires to work as an assistant designer or serve as a postsecondary faculty member, interior design schools have programs to meet these needs. The following section reviews the different types of degrees and what students can hope to gain from each. These degrees can open many doors for burgeoning interior designers. Reflecting students' diverse short-term goals, schools may offer three different paths.

    For example, an Associate of Applied Science is intended for those looking to move directly into the professional world as an assistant.


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    The Associate of Arts, on the other hand, is well suited for those seeking to continue their education in interior design. Meanwhile, the Associate of Science is suited for those intending to move toward further education in architecture or industrial design. In the first year of associate degree programs, students generally learn the fundamentals of design and basic skills in hand drawing and digital drafting. The second year tackles more specialized topics such as architectural lighting, color theory, and furniture history in addition to introductory business and marketing concepts.

    Some of the more common courses associate degree students may expect are listed below, along with the job-related skills and knowledge they could pick up in each. Looks at designs of the last two centuries, highlighting the emergence of specific design theory and stylistic elements. Traces modernization of style back to origins. Provides overview of how specific purpose-built spaces have evolved over time.

    Could include studies on corporate spaces, museums, hotels, or government buildings. Reviews cultural, social, and psychological implications of color use, and the effects of color, including productivity and tranquility. Examines varied theories, optical illusions, the Bezold Effect, and contrasts.

    You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers. Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state. Interior designers have a deep understanding of human psychology, especially as it relates to how people react with a specific interpretation of interior design and physical space.

    An interior design firm may work on many different types of environments that can be created inside a building. Examples are office spaces in a corporate skyscraper, luxury hotels, fine homes, museums, and even churches. Typically, designers will specialize in either commercial or residential interior design, though some firms do both. The people who work as interior designers have an in-depth understanding of color usage, textures, furniture styles, artwork, lighting, fashion trends, eco-materials, indoor plants, and a whole range of other things that can be used as design elements for interior spaces.

    They need to be very good at dealing with people, including clients that can be quite difficult and workers that make mistakes on occasion. There are three main activities of an interior design firm owner. They are: 1 constantly learning about new elements of design and current trends, 2 seeking new clients to work for, and: 3 managing the ongoing projects and staff. Of course, no one just starting out in this business will find clients like that.

    How to Start an Interior Decorating or Design Business

    These clients have a reasonable budget to spend on the interior design work and ask the interior designer to work on a specific space. When they are pleased with the results, they give the same interior designer another project to work on. They also tell their friends how happy they are with the work and invite them over to see what was done.

    Most of the successful interior design firms have plenty of this second type of client. By making these clients happy, the business grows in an almost organic, automatic way. One successful project leads to another and then another. Interior design firms can be paid in a variety of ways.

    How To Become A (Self-Taught) Interior Designer / Decorator / Creative Professional

    The American Society of Interior Designers notes these are the most common ways to charge for interior design services:. Interior Design publishes an annual list of the top designs firms in the world. Having a flair for creative efforts, the ability to work hard, and an eye for aesthetics are the critical elements needed to succeed in this work.