Interior designers make indoor spaces safe and functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. But beyond being artistic and selecting home furnishings and decorative items, interior designers must also possess a multitude of skills, including being able to read and draw blueprints, and understanding building codes, construction documents, inspection regulations and other details.
So, is interior design the right career path for you? We can help you decide.
Is an Interior Design Career Path Worth It?
In order to pursue an interior design career, you have to be committed to an investment of both time and money. It is important to know how much time it will take to become an interior designer, how much it will cost, and how much you can expect to make.
Commitment of Time and Money
In general, the average amount of time it takes to become an interior designer is five to six years, adding together the years of formal studies and on-the-job learning that are required. It includes either two years to obtain an associate degree or four years for a bachelor’s degree, plus several years of formal studies and on-the-job learning, depending on which degree you decide to pursue.
If you choose to study interior design in school, you can expect to pay an average of $20,000 annually in tuition and expenses. According to College Factual, full-time undergraduates enrolled in interior design programs paid an average of $18,250 in fees and tuition in the 2019 – 2020 school year.
The Salary of Interior Designers
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics for Interior Designers, in 2020 the median annual wage for interior designers was $57,060. Those in the lowest percent earned less than $33,000 annually, while the highest 10% earned over $97,920.
So it’s up to you to balance the salary you can earn as an interior designer with the amount of time and money you will invest to become one.
The Necessary Skills for a Career in Residential Design or Commercial Design
Whether you are interested in a career in residential or commercial design, you should have a creative predisposition, and an eye for color and visualization. You also need certain technical, business and “people” skills. We have broken them down into four different categories: artistic, personal, business and technical, some of which you can learn by doing the necessary course work. Interior design is as much about people as it is about spaces.
The necessity to be Artistic and Creative
Anyone who wants to pursue a career in Interior design will typically have an innate sense of style and the ability to create beautiful designs. They need the imagination to select furnishings and fabrics, and design interior spaces that fit their clients’ needs and lifestyles. They should be able to visualize spaces, with a strong sense of proportion and visual awareness, and possess an understanding of how all the elements of a design plan fit together.
Interior designers must be attentive to texture, color, lighting, materials and spacial relations. They must know how color combinations work, how it affects emotions, and how to use it as an expressive and powerful tool. Interior designers must possess the ability to grasp the scope of a project and transform it through the design process, using drawing and plans to translate their vision into reality. They must also stay up-to-date on the latest trends products, materials and styles.
Some personal and communication capabilities needed
Interior design is not practiced in a vacuum. It involves interacting with many people: clients, vendors, architects, contractors and other suppliers. An interior designer should have innate “people skills” in order to effectively communicate and collaborate with others, and they must be able to adapt to working with many different personalities.
Working as a designer in home or commercial interiors also includes being detail-oriented and organized. It is imperative to have problem-solving skills, so they will be able to address challenges that working on a design project present, such as delivery and construction delays and dealing with difficult clients with unexpected demands. They can expect that not everything will go according to plan and need to be prepared to deal with it with a level head.
The communication skills necessary for practicing interior design include sensitivity, being a good listener, possessing written as well as oral competency, and the ability to negotiate.
To be an Interior designer, you need to get the Business fiber
First and foremost, interior designers must be good salespeople to attract clients and have an entrepreneurial spirit. Next, they should be able to negotiate contracts and prices, as well as oversee scheduling and installation, invoicing and paying for materials and furnishings. The knowledge of spreadsheets and a basic understanding of accounting are necessary for running their own business.
Good organizational skills include process and project management, troubleshooting, setting priorities, and follow-up and follow-through. Budgeting skills are important, as well as knowing how to be financial realistic, with an eye towards identification of hidden costs, forecasting and transparency. Reliability and being able to meet deadlines are critical, as is the ability to multi-task. A good interior designer must be a competent manager and leader.
Finally, think about your schedule and what you need to juggle. You should be prepared to be be flexible with your schedule, attending to emergencies, and be willing to work nights and weekends.
Technical and Educational requirements
Interior designers need to be skilled and educated in many subjects, which is why attending an accredited interior design will help them along their career path. They must be able to do the following:
- Read architectural blueprints and create drawings
- Have expertise in interior construction
- Understand building codes, regulations and construction documents
- Stay current on sustainability issues
- Have knowledge of computer-aided design, including 3d cad software
Still not sure if pursuing interior design is the right choice for you? You may get an answer by taking a quick on-line career test for a quick evaluation of whether becoming an interior designer is the right career path for you!