How To Become an Interior Designer

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April 27, 2023
Robern Design Solutions

A career in interior design can be exciting and rewarding. The profession combines aspects of design, architecture, and business to create beautiful, safe, and functional indoor spaces.

If this field interests you and you're wondering how to become an interior designer, read our overview of the process below.

Step One: Education and Training

As with most careers, the first step is to obtain some type of education and training. While many interior designers obtain formal degrees, others are self-taught. Ultimately, your educational and training path depends on your preferences and state regulations.

Do you need a degree to become an interior designer?

While an interior design degree is not necessary in all circumstances, regulations vary by state. Some states have no requirements, while others require a certification process.

If you pursue an interior design degree, keep in mind that most interior design programs include the study of architecture, drafting, space planning, and color theory. You'll also learn about materials, textiles, lighting, and furniture design.

desk of interior designer architect with samples of color swatches, woods, and textiles
Credit: Ronstik

Explore our overview of the best interior design schools to consider.

Specialties and career pathways

Whether you get a degree or teach yourself, you'll eventually hone in on a specialty. You may prefer creating bespoke bathroom designs by finding the best bathroom vanities, or you could specialize in kitchens or large commercial buildings.

During this process, you may ask yourself questions like:

If you're looking for hands-on experience, consider an internship or apprenticeship. Working in the field allows you to gain practical knowledge and build connections in the interior design industry.

Step Two: Certification

In some states and career pathways, the next step is obtaining certification. This process typically requires passing an exam and continuing education, and it varies by state. Getting certified could potentially help open up new job opportunities and increase your earning potential.

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Step Three: Networking

Networking is a key part of succeeding as an interior designer, and it's important to build relationships and establish yourself as a trusted professional in the industry. Attend events, join professional organizations, and reach out to other interior designers to build a network of contacts.

Social media can also be a powerful tool for networking and connecting with potential clients. You can use sites like LinkedIn and Pinterest to showcase your projects and build relationships. These platforms can also help you stay up to date on industry trends and find new clients.

Step Four: Building a Portfolio

No interior design career is complete without a portfolio. You can use your portfolio to showcase your skills and attract potential clients. A portfolio typically includes photos of your work, sketches, drawings, and any other projects that demonstrate your design expertise.

desk of interior designer showing a sketch of an interior on top of floor plans, material samples. there is a paint brush and pencils on the desk.
Credit: Mr Twister

Creating a portfolio can take time, so it's important to start early and update it often. You can also use online tools to create a digital portfolio that can be easily shared with potential clients.

Explore Your Options

Becoming an interior designer requires dedication and hard work, but the rewards are worth it. With the right education, certification, and networking, you can launch a successful career in this creative and rewarding field.

Looking for more design inspiration? Explore mid-century modern bathroom ideas.

FAQs About How to Become an Interior Designer

Do you need a degree to be an interior designer?

Qualifications for an interior designer career vary by location and unique job requirements. In some cases, you may need to obtain a bachelor's degree in interior design. Additionally, some states require interior designers to be licensed or certified in order to practice.

What skills do you need to become an interior designer?

Interior designers should have a creative eye, excellent communication, organizational skills, and a good understanding of materials, textures, and color. Additionally, computer skills, such as experience with design software, are useful for success in this field.

How long is schooling for interior design?

The duration of schooling for interior design varies depending on the program and degree you choose. Generally, bachelor's degrees take four years to complete, while associate degrees take two-to-three years. Professional certification exams and courses may take less time to complete.

Is there any kind of certification available for interior designers?

Yes, there are various certifications available for interior designers, such as the NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Qualification) certification. This certification is widely respected and can help to demonstrate your knowledge and skills in the field.

What kind of job opportunities are available for interior designers?

Interior designers can work in a variety of settings, including residential and commercial design firms, architectural firms, and home furnishing stores. Some interior designers work on a freelance basis and develop their own businesses and brands. Interior designers may also provide services and sell products online.

What is the salary range for interior designers?

The salary range for interior designers is quite wide, depending on experience and location. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for interior designers in 2021 was $60,340 per year. However, some interior designers can earn much higher salaries depending on their experience and the specific industry in which they work.

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