So You Want to Be an Interior Designer

Updated on March 23, 2020
lindacee profile image

Linda is a seasoned writer and home-decorating authority. She loves sharing design trends, decor ideas, and useful tips with her readers.

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The world of interior design is often thought of as a glamorous career spent in the company of wealthy, jet-setting clientele. In reality, the life of a designer is quite the opposite. Designers complete rigorous academic and professional requirements; they pay their dues. And most perform their jobs in relative anonymity.

Whether you are considering hiring an interior designer, are interested in pursuing a career in the field or simply want to know more about the profession, these facts will provide insight into this diverse and highly competitive field.

Modern History

The interior design profession as we know it flourished as a result of the Industrial Revolution. This era created an affluent middle class and an abundance of affordable products and materials. For the first time in history, modern conveniences and services once only afforded by the wealthy became available to the wider population. The modern interior design profession was in its infancy and a number of home and interior magazines began publishing at this time.

There are a number of middle and upper class interiors that are quite fancy during the Industrial Revolution.
There are a number of middle and upper class interiors that are quite fancy during the Industrial Revolution. | Source

Project Management

An interior designer is also a project manager that oversees architecture, works with the trades, reads blueprints and plans meetings. Interior design is a profession that merges art and science. Analytical and technical disciplines provide interior solutions that are dictated by the needs of a client. The designer requires a unique personality that can understand and deal with divergent concepts. Interior designers must be familiar with color, fabrics, wall finishes, flooring, lighting and furnishings as well as construction materials, plumbing fixtures, an electrical layout and building codes. Excellent organizational, communication and business skills are also critical to the success of designers.

Interior designs are residential homes that are traditional, contemporary and modern.
Interior designs are residential homes that are traditional, contemporary and modern. | Source

Interior Specialties

Designers can specialize in one or more categories of interior design. The two core specialties are residential and commercial design. Residential interior design deals with planning and design for clients that have primary and vacation homes. Commercial design conducts interior planning and design to create retail centers, corporate buildings, government structures, healthcare facilities and educational institutes. Subcategories include sustainable/green design, accessible design, entertainment design, institutional design and hospitality design.

Specialized designs are sustainable for commercial interiors.
Specialized designs are sustainable for commercial interiors. | Source

Academic Requirements

Interior design has strict academic requirements compared to other design disciplines. It is recommended that an interior designer has a bachelor of arts or a science degree. Architecture, engineering, design and art courses are recommended areas of study within these degree programs. A number of colleges have specialized degrees in interior design. Design schools offer two-, three- and four-year interior design programs. A few colleges and universities have Masters and PhD. level degrees in interior design. Depending on the level of education completed, aspiring designers can qualify for assistant positions or enter full apprenticeship programs.

There are several different types of interior design degrees at colleges and universities.
There are several different types of interior design degrees at colleges and universities. | Source

Professional Accreditation

The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) is the largest and most widely recognized professional organization for interior designers. ASID professional members must undergo thorough acceptance standards including an ASID accredited design education, proof of full-time work experience and successful completion of the professional certification exam given by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ). The exam is given in 23 states. The District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are also part of the licensing requirement for interior designers.

ASID is a professional organization for interior designers.
ASID is a professional organization for interior designers. | Source

10 Steps for Your Interior Design Career

  1. You will earn your interior design degree.
  2. Next, you will pass the National Council for Interior Design qualification exam to become a professional.
  3. It is a good practice to start with some pro bono projects.
  4. Consider an apprenticeship with a design firm.
  5. Choose the best special interior design software.
  6. Develop your very own aesthetic.
  7. As you work with a number of new clients you will build a comprehensive portfolio.
  8. Look for continuing education opportunities so you can learn as you go.
  9. Stay creatively inspired.
  10. Target clients and market a startup for your own business.

Questions & Answers

    © 2020 Linda Chechar

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      • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Chechar 

        8 weeks ago from Arizona

        Eman, I'm glad you are interested in interior design. It is a wonderful profession.

      • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Chechar 

        8 weeks ago from Arizona

        Linda Crampton, interior design accreditation are the four levels: associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctorate's degrees. After graduation, they become ASID certified professionals and they can also become instructors and professors.

      • Emmy ali profile image

        Eman Abdallah Kamel 

        8 weeks ago from Egypt

        Thank you, Linda. You provided valuable information as well as important steps for anyone interested in interior design.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        8 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

        This is an informative article that should be very useful for someone interested in an interior design career. I found it very interesting myself because I didn't know the requirements for entering the career.

      • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Chechar 

        8 weeks ago from Arizona

        Liz, glad you like the article that creates a various types of interior designs for residential and commercial. It includes several degrees and a professional organization of ASID.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        8 weeks ago from UK

        This is a useful and interesting guide for anyone contemplating a career in interior design. It sounds like a complex profession.

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