How do I make a career change as a Freelance Interior Designer?

Congratulations! You are finally sure of yourself, the career of Interior designer is made for you. The only problem: you don't know how to get started. In this case, this article might help you.

Changing career – The Facts

In the US a person will change career an average of 5-7 times in their working life. 30% of the work force will change career every 12 months. The reasons Americans change career so frequently are;

  • Frustration and disillusion – Not being able to use your passion or natural ability in your current job.
  • Difficult relationships with superiors 
  • Poor brand culture, pay, benefits, working environment.
  • Realignment of personal or spiritual values. 

And finally

  •  Want more money.

It takes on average of 15 years to become a senior partner or partner at a US firm and begin taking control of your work schedule and team. 

According to the US bureau of labor statistics the average US salary is $51,168. However in industries such as the service industry average salaries drop to $35,000.

The average salary for a Freelance interior designer in the US in 2020 was $57,500 with the added bonus of being your own boss, selecting projects you want to complete and being able to harness and utilise your own creativity. 

How do I become an Interior Designer?

Becoming an interior designer is something that you can do alongside a full time career. Taking an example of a professional athlete who has become a top rated interior design freelancer.  Just like the average US employee, being a professional athlete is not something that you can do forever. A career change is necessary. A 6ft 2, 240lb man changing from a collision sport to interior design is a very big change. You could say that the skills don’t really transfer. However, evolving a passion and obsession with interiors; Pinterest boards, interior based social media alongside TV shows such as Grand Designs, Dream Home Makeover, Tiny House Nation in to a career is easily feasible. This example is just to show that even someone in a completely polar opposite industry can become one of the top 10% Interior design freelancers.

How do I turn my passion in interior design in to a job?

The main concerns when changing career are financial, time and skill. Can I afford to stop working to retrain?  Do I have enough time to take on a degree?  Am I good enough?

Despite your background not being in an artistic or design based discipline and the fear that your skill set does not apply to this field, most diploma courses are designed to teach you the basic skills necessary to be a successful designer. The other common concern is that a great eye for beautiful interiors may not transfer to your ability to draw, design and transfer your thoughts into realistic and usable designs. Fortunately learning to draw furniture, scale, and rooms can be done on software and using scale rulers and other helpful interior design drawing equipment. Most large American universities offer distance learning courses, degrees and diplomas that will provide a fantastic introduction in to the world of interior design. Most people  begin with a diploma in Interior Design (this is necessary if you do not have an art/fine art background). This can be completed alongside any career (around 10 hours a week) and teaches you the basics of interior design over 6-12 months. The subjects are commonly based around the 7 basic elements of interior design.

  • Color 
  • Form
  • Light
  • Line
  • Pattern
  • Texture 
  • Space 

After completing the diploma you can work as an interior designer or interior consultant. You will have a basic understanding of interior design and the elements that make a great space. In many cases interior designers will use this diploma as a spring board to begin their own business. If you have an interest in commercial interior or want to further your knowledge in software, design style, techniques and the industry it is possible to continue with a full Batchelor of Arts degree (3 Years) in Interior Design / Commercial design / interior design and architecture.

Many of these courses are based around distanced learning. This means the degree is completed at your own pace and can be completed alongside your current career, family and social commitments. The minimum degree term is usually 3 years and maximum time to complete is 6.

The saying “If you do something you love, it doesn’t feel like work“ is exactly the reason you should pursue your passion in interior design.

3D software such as the HomeByMe creative suite allows designers to chose furniture, lighting, fixtures and fittings from real retailers and seeing them come to together in a space can feel more like the Sims computer game than work. 

How do you make money – Freelance Interior Design

Completion of any diploma and or degree in interior design will mean that you have developed enough knowledge and confidence to begin working as an interior designer. It is important at this point to further develop your skills in a real world environment. As most people are changing career to become their own boss and have creative freedom the best way to begin growing your portfolio is by working for friends and acquaintances. Take on as many small jobs as you can; bathroom designs, bedroom renovations, living and tv room layouts. Use these small jobs to learn about the issues you may encounter such as dealing with clients, snagging points in interior design, lead times with manufacturers and developing your style. Photograph and record all of your interior work in a design journal, write about your thoughts and the challenges, keep retailer details and tradesmen numbers to help you begin to build relationships within the industry. 

As your confidence and portfolio starts to grow use images and the 3D software renders you have created for each client to create a small portfolio of your work. To further grow your business and interior opportunities display your portfolio on Freelancer sites such as Upwork and Fiverr and began targeting similar small jobs. As your style, confidence and portfolio grows so will the size of the jobs you can complete. It takes on average one year to make 30-50,000 dollars on freelancing sites for interior designers. Slowly growing your portfolio alongside your current career before making the final transition allows you to pursue your passion whilst still maintaining financial security. 

3-6 Years may seem like a long time, to re-train in a career you are passionate about. The average American may have changed career 3-5 times in this period and still be unsure if they have found their forever job. If you love interior design and the idea of becoming your own boss, setting up your own company, deciding your working hours and working in a creative field where no two jobs are the same, it is a substantially shorter journey than the 15 years it takes to become a partner.

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