So, you realized you actually have a good sense of interior styling. You thought, why not push for an interior design career!? But you feel like it’s already too late to start anew. Well, guess what? There are actually ways on how to become an interior designer with no experience. Sounds interesting? Well, it is!
A lot of people thought that to be an interior designer, you have to earn a bachelor’s degree in interior design as a prerequisite. While it is true in some areas of the world (like in the US, there are certain states that require a college degree in interior design), in other places, you can actually work as one without having to earn a college degree in this field.
Now, what if you are in your mid-life already and it’s only now that you found out that you can actually make money from interior design, would you still go through the path of earning a degree just so you can practice and become an interior designer?
Well, you have two options – either yes, you pursue a degree or still push for interior design even neither having a college degree nor a work experience.
We know what’s your next question will be – then, how? How to become an interior designer with no experience at all?
Well, we just have to make you wait a little while because first, let’s do an interior design 101. We just find it necessary that you understand first and foremost the industry first before jumping into it. That way, once you enter into this industry, you at least have the know-how.
WHAT IS INTERIOR DESIGN?
Interior design is referred to the “art and science of enhancing the interior” either of a home, a building, or any structure for that matter, to be able to “achieve a healthier and more aesthetically pleasing environment” for every single person using the space.
An interior designer, on the other hand, refers to the person who creates plans, makes researches, and does coordinating, as well as managing interior design projects.
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE AN INTERIOR DESIGNER?
Depending on what state or area of the world you are in, some places require a person to finish a college degree in interior design or any related course to be called as an interior designer. Some states in the US for instance, apart from a college degree, requires to pass a licensure examination to be able to practice interior design. In other areas, a certification is enough to be called an interior designer.
However, there are also places that are more relaxed with their requirements – like as long as you have a college graduate, you are allowed to take an associate or master’s degree in interior design to be a full-fledged interior designer.
WHAT SKILLS DOES AN INTERIOR DESIGNER MUST HAVE?
We can name a lot of characteristics of an interior designer, however, some of the most commonly required skills for an interior designer are:
– Creativity – You will need this to make a dull space come to life.
– Precision – As a designer, you have to be precise not only in measurements but also in making decisions.
– Communication – This skill is very important as you will be mostly talking to clients as well as your co-workers (e.g. engineers, foremen, contractors, architects, etc.), also, you will be needing this in negotiating and presenting your idea for the space you are going to work on.
– Vision – He or she has the ability to foresee how space will look like once the project is done, rather knows what is exactly is the most suitable design to make a space comfortable and functional according to the needs of the client.
– Problem-Solving – It is not surprising to encounter problems during the construction or even when negotiating with suppliers and clients themselves. Thus, as a designer, you have to be quick in finding solutions to problems or it might affect the output or in meeting deadlines.
HOW MUCH DOES AN INTERIOR DESIGNER MAKE?
Here’s to another one of the most commonly asked questions – how much does an interior designer earn.
Well, generally speaking, it depends. Interior designers earn on a per-project basis – unless you belong to a firm and you are paid on a monthly basis. The rate depends on your expertise, specialization (if any), the scale of the project, the number of working hours, and of course, the years of experience.
To give you an idea, though, at an average, an interior designer can make $52,000 a year. He or she can make a lower to at least $36,000 or at most, $50,000 annually.
HOW TO BECOME AN INTERIOR DESIGNER WITH NO EXPERIENCE?
So, now that you already know what interior design is all about, and what specific characteristics or skills you must possess to be an efficient and successful interior designer, let’s us proceed to one of the most important questions that we are answering today – how to become an interior designer with no experience?
Well, we are going to provide you with five essential steps to be an interior designer without experience and even without a college degree.
Here we go:
Step 1: Determine the kinds of services you are going to provide.
Before anything else, allow us to ask you a few questions first.
What interior design project have you undertaken so far? What specific space have you already done interior designing? Or should we say, what room in the house is your most favorite part to design and decorate?
You know, it is important that you first find your niche – meaning what specific room is most comfortable designing and you feel best when designing – to be able to determine the kind of services you are going to provide to your potential clients.
Be realistic. Never offer something that you are not comfortable with or you haven’t even had any projects related to it just for the sake of making a profit. It is too risky for a beginner like you. Unless of course if our client is a friend or a relative or someone who is willing to take a risk with you, then, that is fine. But generally, just offer or provide something that you are knowledgeable about.
Now, if you really want to be a well-rounded interior designer, we have a tip for you. Start by undertaking an interior design project at your own home or as we said earlier at a friend or a relative’s home (as long as you have their go signal – that’s fine).
By doing so, you will be able to assess your skills. At the same time, it will help you gauge what specific serviced are you going to provide to your future clients.
As you do your project, consider everything that needs to be considered – apart from the design, also take into consideration the budget. By the way, it is one essential skill that an interior designer must possess. You will do a lot of budgeting in the real interior design world – to attain customer satisfaction.
Negotiating and project management are also two important skills that you need to acquire and practice before you even get into the real thing.
Now, if you are still undecided with what specific services are you going to provide, there are online tests that you can take. Hopefully, by taking those, you get to grasp what it is that you are really good at.
You know, do not feel bad or disappointed if in case you are unable to provide various services as you begin. It’s better to start with something you are a hundred percent sure of than start offering a lot of things and then failing to meet the clients’ expectations because you are not at all a master of it anyway. That is worse.
Step 2: Describe what you and your business are all about.
Do you have a favorite hangout? It could be a coffee shop or a tea house, or anywhere you want as long as that place is somewhere you can think deeply about what you envision about you and your business.
As you begin your interior design career, it is important that you know exactly what you want for yourself and the business, what your goals are, and what exactly it is that you will offer to your potential customers.
Steps one and two are quite related because it is all about refining what the business is all about and what your strengths are.
You know, when you approach potential clients, it is important to create a good impression. And one of the good impressions you can make is having expertise in what you do. So, to make that happen, apart from looking at your strengths, you also look into your potential clients. You need to make time to understand what their needs are and what specific problems you can solve as an interior designer.
Understand your target market. Know them inside and out, and from there, take your observations into consideration as you create a service suitable for your potential clients.
Also, think about what makes you unique, what makes you stand out from the rest. Remember, it is indeed a competitive world out there, but do not get overwhelmed with that, rather take that as a challenge to excel more in the craft.
If you have already undertaken projects in the past, you may also do a quick survey. Ask your previous clients what made them decide to entrust their homes or spaces with you? What is in you that made them do that decision? Take everything into account as their inputs will help you have a clear and better understanding of what you and your business will be all about.
When starting a business or in this case, when you are starting to become an interior designer especially without experience or college degree to back you up, as soon as you hit your niche and you determine your target market, right away take action. While there is nothing wrong with aiming for perfection, but you know, nothing is perfect, right? And if there is such a thing in this career, it happens as your business grows. You just have to start somewhere, really.
Step 3: Determine how much your design services will cost.
Pricing is a vital part of any business. You have to make sure that the price is always right. Remember, interior design is very competitive. So, apart from providing unique, beautiful interior design services or should we say, providing overall customer satisfaction, you also have to take into consideration that your price is acceptable by your target market.
Now, for you to be able to come up with the right price, you have to take into account your total overhead cost plus a lot more. To give you an idea, some of the things that you need to take into consideration are:
– Monthly bills (e.g. electricity, space rental, mobile plan, etc.)
– Your skills and expertise (how much is your worth)
– Taxes (whether you work independently or build a business, there is always a corresponding tax that needs to be settled)
– Transportation or gas expenses (the farther the location of the project, the higher the cost will be)
You can add more items in here as needed, but these are some of the most common things that are taken into consideration when costing.
In some instances, interior designers create packages, while most of the time, it really depends on the scale of the project. We suggest you cater to both – you prepare packaged services with detailed inclusions, at the same time, be open for customized costing as well.
Step 4: Set up a marketing plan.
You have an option – either you work with someone who really has the skills and the capacity with regards to marketing, or you do it yourself. If you have the budget, we highly recommend doing the former. Otherwise, you can always DIY as long as you are willing to learn the rules of the game.
Marketing is important when setting up an interior design career or business. The right marketing plan will either make you or break you. Sounds overwhelming? Don’t be. It just may sound technical but marketing processes can be made simpler, less technical, yet come up as effective as can be.
You have so many marketing strategies to choose from. But today, let’s focus on two very common but highly effective strategies. First, word of mouth, and second, use of technology.
Let’s talk about the first one – word of mouth. Everything starts with you. We suggest that as a beginner, you can offer friends or family members your services either for free or at a discounted price. It’s all about building a portfolio. It’s part of creating your marketing plan.
Once the other party agrees, you go through the whole process of interior designing. Take it as a chance to practice your craft and all your other skills related to the business. You know, once you come up with a really pleasing output, people will see it, notice it, and eventually lead you to more future projects.
The second one, you know what’s nice about being in this era of technology? Everything is made easier. It’s like everything can be done in just a click of a finger.
Anyway, today, having a website and/or a Facebook Page is essential to any business. It’s making yourself easily reachable by potential clients. Gone are the days when people look for services by checking newspapers, etc. Today, when people need something or someone – interior designers included – they just go to Google.
Building a website is not as expensive as you might think nor as hard as you thought. As with your social media pages, those can be done totally for free.
Step 5: Continue learning.
One of the most common mistakes among interior designers is that some of them thought once they are already in the business, they already know everything. Well, that is very wrong. All the more if you are someone who is a total stranger in the industry
One of the best secrets on how to become an interior designer with no experience successfully is to learn, to study. You have to always aim for new ideas, knowledge, and skills. Continue to hone your talents and skills in interior design. Never stop learning.
As the saying goes, nothing is constant in this world. Everything changes. Like in interior design. The trend today may not be as in as it now tomorrow. So you have to keep up with the changes. The worse thing for an interior designer is when he or she stops learning. Be adaptable to change. Always upgrade your craft.
You can find training and workshops or crash courses related to interior design online or you if you have or belong to a network of interior designers, you will surely get invitations to attend such activities. Do not take such opportunities for granted. One thing, always keep yourself updated to remain competitive and in the game on this craft.
Now, in addition to all these steps on how to become an interior designer with no experience at all, to be successful and effective in this craft, you have to acquire or hone the following skills:
– Know how to draw, and create furniture layouts
– Know how to make lighting designs and layouts
– Knowledgeable in undertaking measured survey
– Know how to formulate an agreement
– Negotiation skills
– Have knowledge in designing a space with a strong idea, and ensuring to follow through every single detail
– Be able to put together an intelligible design scheme according to a brief
– Knowledgeable in pricing your services sufficiently
So, there you have it. Are you convinced now that even if you are not a college degree holder of an interior design course, or have no experience in this field at all, you still have a chance to be called as one?
We hope that through what we have shared with you today, we were able to give enlightenment on how to become an interior designer with no experience or college degree. We hope that through our insights, we were able to spark excitement in you to go pursue your dream of becoming an interior designer.