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How to Become an Interior Designer: A Step-By-Step Guide

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So you want to learn how to become an interior designer but don’t know what it entails. You may even become unsure if you should get a degree.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone!

People start their interior design careers in different ways, which is why some guides are confusing. Fortunately, you stumbled upon our complete tutorial on how to become an interior designer.

Today, we’ll discuss all the licenses, materials, training, and simple steps you need to take. By the end of the article, you’ll gain in-depth knowledge on how to get your foot into the industry!

An Overview of Interior Designers: A Primer

Making an interior space beautiful is only one aspect of interior design. An interior designer needs to create rooms that are safe and functional for clients!

The duties of an interior designer include drawing blueprints and following building codes. Specifying construction materials is part of the job.

A designer also computes project costs and oversees the installation of room components. The use of computer-aided design software is necessary for this line of work.

Starting an interior design business means you have to hire architects, engineers, and laborers to help you.

To gain knowledge on how to do your duties, you need to attend an interior design course. You may find a school with an interior design accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Art & Design.

Don’t worry, any training you need is worth it in the long run. Making your design idea come to life is a rewarding job that pays well!

How Much Do Interior Designers Make?

A top view of a team of Interior Designers working on a project

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics says that the average interior designer makes $29.01 per hour. This translates to $60,340 per year.

According to Forbes, interior designers in Rhode Island make more than the average at $77,250 per year. New York, Massachusetts, Washington, and California are also states where designers may make more money.

Most people who do interior design work have a bachelor’s degree, but you can be successful without one!

For instance, Shea McGee, the founder of Studio McGee and star of Netflix’s Dream Home Makeover didn’t get a degree.

Yet, the side hustle she started at home let her reach a gross revenue of $58.7 million in 2020.

What You’ll Need to Become an Interior Designer [& Associated Costs]

Does becoming an interior designer look good to you? Here’s everything you need to get your interior design qualification.

  • Education: According to the International Interior Design Association, 92% of its members have a bachelor’s degree. U.S. News reports that you can get an online interior design degree for $56,000 to $116,000.
  • Licenses and Certification: If a four-year course isn’t your thing, you can gain an associate degree for $7,000. After this, take exams from the National Council for Interior Design Qualification for $1,335.
  • Basic Materials: You need a certain level of drawing skill to become a designer. You may buy a laser measuring tool, sketchbooks, rulers, colored pens, and other drawing materials for under $200.
  • Computer: A computer will help you do accounting and project management, but you need one that can handle design programs. You can buy a computer with a 2.5 GHz processor and 8 GB memory for $500.
  • Software: AutoCAD is the software you need to create mockups of layouts. It costs $1,775 for a year’s worth of subscription. Foyr is another essential tool that lets you render 3D models of your designs for $720 per year.
  • Swatches: You can get color swatches from vendors for free, or you can choose to buy a Pantone shade book. The guide for 2,625 colors costs $480.

How Much Does it Cost to Become an Interior Designer?

Becoming an interior designer may cost you up to $121,010 if you choose to get a degree.

You can opt out of this and study interior architecture through other means. In this case, it may cost you $12,000.

Is it Hard to Become an Interior Designer?

It’s not difficult to become an interior designer. You don’t need a license, but you should familiarize yourself with building codes.

Residential interior design is an applied science. You must invest in your education and gain work experience to build safe spaces for clients.

How Long Does it Take to Become an Interior Designer?

It takes four years to complete a bachelor’s degree in interior design. Add two years of work experience if you want to qualify for the exam and become a licensed interior designer.

Attending a two-year associate degree as your interior design education also works. In this case, you need three years of work experience to qualify for exams.

How to Become an Interior Designer in 5 Simple Steps

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Are you looking forward to joining the industry? Here are the five steps on how to become an interior designer!

Step 1. Look for a Design School

There are many schools with an interior design program. Decide on whether you want an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree.

A reputable design school is where you’ll learn how to utilize space effectively while adhering to building safety!

As we mentioned, an associate degree will take two years, while the latter will take four. This is the fastest way to study computer-aided design, drawing, and building safety.

It’s best to select a course approved by the NASAD. The Council for Interior Design Accreditation has a comprehensive list of programs in each state as well.

Step 2. Gain Experience From a Firm

Continuing education is a requirement to become a certified interior designer. This is because people in this industry have trade secrets they won’t share with anyone else.

Choose an interior design firm with licensed designers that can mentor you. This is invaluable for a beginner.

Another perk to working at a design firm is it has the budget to help you build a portfolio. Collecting images of the work you’ve done on previous spaces is a must. This can gain you more clients in the future!

Step 3. Become Certified

Not all states ask interior designers to take a licensure exam. Yet, you should still consider getting certification.

In some cases, only a registered interior designer can place a seal of approval on projects. Other states don’t even let uncertified people call themselves interior designers.

Whatever the case, a certificate is proof of your ability as a designer. It’ll help you land more jobs and boost your reputation.

Plus, it allows you to learn about design principles that your education never covered!

Step 4. Collect Reputable Vendors

The fourth step in how to become an interior designer is gathering vendors.

This is vital because the quality of your work gets affected by your contractors and suppliers. Any delay they cause will be a reflection of your work.

Some designers even keep their vendors top secret so competitors can’t copy their projects!

Because of this, you should make sure to build a good relationship with any supplier that meets your standards.

Step 5. Establish a Niche and Branch Out

After you’ve gained enough experience, it may be time to branch out and start an interior design business! To do this, you should first identify your niche.

What services will you offer to your potential clients?

Ask yourself if you excel in corporate, healthcare, or residential design. Maybe your skills are more suitable for flipping properties for AirBnb hosts.

Starting a business will help you reach the peak of your potential earnings as an interior designer!

Reasons to Consider Becoming an Interior Designer

A mentor guiding junior Interior Designer in creating a new design

These are some reasons why you should consider pursuing a degree in interior design.

  • It Brings Your Creativity Out: Some people get attracted to jobs that allow them to create and innovate. You’ll encounter challenging yet fun projects if you become an interior designer.
  • You Can Use Your Talents for Sustainability: If you value the environment, becoming an interior decorator may be a rewarding job. You can choose to cater to the rising number of businesses that go for sustainable design!
  • Working From Home Is a Possibility: Freelance interior designers can offer online services from home. If you start a business, it’s even possible to hire staff and create office space in your house.
  • It Has a High-Earning Potential: Because it’s a job that relies on experience, the longer you stay in the industry, the higher your salary gets. The average salary of designers with ten years of experience is $84,788!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you still have some unanswered queries? Here are the most frequently asked questions for interior decoration and design services.

Can I Learn Interior Design on My Own?

You may learn about interior design by yourself as an introduction to the industry. You should go to interior design school for a degree and certification if you plan to do full-time work.

After graduation, it’s possible to practice this profession by yourself. According to the BLS, 32% of designers are self-employed.

How Long Is the Study of Interior Design?

It takes four years to get a bachelor’s degree in interior design. The experience requirement for an interior design certification is another two years.

For those who want a faster route, you may get an associate degree for two years of study. Online courses are available as well!

Similar Gigs to Check Out

Is learning how to become an interior designer too much work for you? These similar gigs may be what you want to try instead!

Wrapping Up

Becoming a professional interior designer may take a few years of study. You need to invest in software, materials, and certification.

You have to build strong relationships with your mentors and vendors to stand out from your competition.

Yet, it’s a job where you can unleash your creativity and earn a considerable salary. Because of this, we think that it’s worth starting an interior design career!

If you found our guide on how to become an interior designer useful, please share it with your friends!

As always, you can leave us your insights in the comments section below!

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