You love decorating your home, and often, you receive a lot of compliments from people coming over your place. It feels great, yes, but it even feels greater when people would be in awe knowing that it was just you who did all the decorating. And so you thought, “Why not make a living out of it?” So, the idea of how to become an interior designer starts to linger in your mind.
Are you one of those who find decorating rooms and arranging furniture as just a hobby? So, when other people compliment your work, you often get shocked?
You know, there are people who find doing things as ordinary, and never in their mind would have thought that what they did is actually something great – until they start receiving praises and invitations (to work on a project) from other people.
Perhaps you would agree if we say that some people are born with innate talents and skills, but sometimes they are not aware of it until other people tell them so.
So, what’s our point, really? Well, here’s some good news! Maybe, after all, you were born to be an interior designer! Maybe this is the kind of career path that is really meant for you all along.
We got you! You are probably thinking by now how to become an interior designer then? Well, you are one lucky soul because that is precisely what we are here for today – to inform you and hopefully convince you to share your skills and make more homes beautiful by starting off a career in interior design.
But first, let’s get into some basic facts.
WHAT IS INTERIOR DESIGN?
According to the New York School of Interior Design, interior design is “all about how we experience spaces. It’s a powerful, essential part of our daily lives and affects how we live, work, play, and even heal. Comfortable homes, functional workplaces, beautiful public spaces—that’s interior design at work.”
In other words, interior design helps make us feel good about the spaces we have – whether it be at home or in an office setup.
Some of us consider interior design as a way of keeping our home or offices (and eventually our lives too) organized, and pleasing to the eyes. It is also a way for us to ensure we use the spaces that we have perfected and according to their purpose.
WHAT IS AN INTERIOR DESIGNER?
Still, according to the New York School of Interior Design, an interior designer is someone who “craft spaces that anticipate our needs and appeal to our emotions while pulling from a broad set of skills and technical knowledge”.
Based on NYSID, a full-fledged interior designer or someone who finished studying interior design are knowledgeable in the following:
Textiles, materials, color, space planning, sustainability, and more
Software applications for 2D & 3D computer-aided design (CAD) and building information modeling (BIM)
Structural requirements, health, and safety issues, and building codes
With regards to building and the actuality of the design, interior designers work with other professionals like engineers, architects, craftsmen, contractors, as well as furniture dealers. In some cases, they also collaborate with the business or homeowners themselves.
WHAT SKILLS DO YOU NEED TO BE AN INTERIOR DESIGNER?
Before we move on to the process of how to become interior designer, first, let’s talk about the skills you need to be one.
To be successful in this field, according to NYSID, you will need “a well-rounded education and the skills to work within many disciplines (architecture; graphic design; decorative arts; and textile, furniture, and lighting design)”.
Of course, an innate talent in interior design and creativity will also be a great plus in this field. You know, while some things can be acquired, there are certain skills that you are born with – like that of having a creative eye.
WHAT DOES AN INTERIOR DESIGNER DO?
Generally, people though interior designers just look at the space and start thinking about what they’re going to do with it to make it look good or decent or functional. However, that is not how it goes.
Interior designers go through a rigorous process before executing a design.
Based on NYSID, here are some of the key tasks that interior designers do:
They look for and bid on new or potential projects.
They look into what the client’s goals are and then, determine the requirements for the project.
They assess the space and thoroughly think about how space will be used, as well as how the people will get to move through space.
They then sketch preliminary design plans, which include electrical and partition layouts. Most designers nowadays, though, use the computer-aided design or CAD software for better visualization of the design output.
The designers specify materials and furnishing requirements like lighting, wall finishes, flooring, plumbing fixtures, and of course, the furniture to be placed on the space.
They are also responsible in creating a timeline for the project, as well as come up with an estimated project cost.
They handle placing orders for materials, and they also oversee the installation of the design elements in the spaces.
The designers oversee the whole construction process, ensuring everything is done according to plan and what’s agreed upon. They also coordinate with general building contractors in the implementation of the plans and specifications for the project.
They visit the site upon completion and ensure that everything on the checklist is ticked and that the client is highly satisfied with the output.
It is vital for interior designers to be knowledgeable and be fully aware of building codes, as well as inspection regulations to avoid unnecessary issues with authorities.
WHAT ARE SPECIFIC TYPES OF INTERIOR DESIGNERS?
A lot of people thought when you say interior designer, they basically do everything. Well, that is true, because most interior designers do really make everything to make a space suitable for its owners. However, there are designers who are more specialized in specific spaces.
Below are some examples of the different types of interior designers these days:
A universal designer specializes in making spaces more accessible. Oftentimes, their designs are used in renovating spaces for people with special needs or the elderly. Generally speaking though, anyone can benefit from the expertise of a universal designer. For instance, putting up or the inclusion of an entranceway may be vital for people who have or are in a wheelchair, but at the same time, it is also important for those people who are pushing a baby or a pet stroller.
A healthcare designer is obviously, knowledgeable in designing health-related spaces like clinics, hospitals, doctor’s offices, healthcare centers, as well as residential health facilities. They are the one knowledgeable and are experts in making design decisions according to reliable research. They are the ones who ensure to achieve the best possible outcomes or interior design to ensure that patients, workers, and residents feel comfortable.
As the name suggests, a corporate interior designer is someone who has the expertise in making office spaces functional and suitable for the daily operations of a business or a company. Corporate designers are responsible for creating the best interior designs for professional workplaces – from small office setups to large-scale companies, high-rise structures included. Normally, as part of the design process, corporate designers also work closely with their clients to ensure that all requirements are incorporated in the design and plan, including the branding of the company or business.
Kitchen and Bath Designer
Of all the spaces, the kitchen and bath are probably one of the most tedious ones. It requires someone with expert knowledge on the appropriate appliances, cabinets, fixtures, and most importantly, the plumbing and electrical solutions for these specific rooms.
HOW TO BECOME INTERIOR DESIGNER?
To be called an interior designer, you need to be a bachelor’s degree holder specifically on interior design or interior architecture.
Interior designing is actually not just about decorating a space, there are specific skills that you need to acquire, and specific design requirements that you need to be knowledgeable about to be an expert and to an effective interior designer.
However, if for instance, you realized you actually want to venture into this career, you do not necessarily have to study another bachelor’s degree, rather, you can take up interior design programs instead like associate’s or master’s degree level.
For your information, there are more or less 350 postsecondary colleges, universities, as well as independent institutions that offer art and design programs and are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.
On one hand, the Council for Interior Design Accreditation has accredited over 180 professional-level (either bachelor’s or master’s degrees) interior design programs.
On the other hand, the National Kitchen and Bath Association has accredited more than 40 colleges and universities for those who plan to specialize in kitchen and bath interior design. These institutions offer certificate, associate’s or bachelor’s degree levels.
Generally, applicants are required to submit sketches and other examples of their work to showcase their creativity and artistic ability. Their admission to interior design programs will also be based on these works.
Important Qualities of a Successful Interior Designer
Now, other than the educational requirement, to become successful in this field, you also have to have the following very important qualities:
– Creativity – Creativity is probably one of the most important qualities you must possess to become a successful interior designer. You will need this especially in selecting fabrics and furnishings for the space you are working with. Needless to say, you also need to match it to the client’s needs, personality, and lifestyle.
– Artistic Ability – Your sense of style will help you come up with aesthetically pleasing results, which will also please your clients.
– Detail Oriented – As much as possible, an error is a no-no. Remember, you are dealing with a client with a specific budget. You better work on that the best way possible. Being detail-oriented will help you particularly in being precise in measuring spaces and also in creating drawings or designs, which will be used by other workers like engineers, architects, etc.
– Interpersonal Skills – To be able to make money in this field, you better be an effective communicator. As an interior designer, you will have to talk and convince clients about your plans for the spaces. Apart from that, you will also be communicating with the entire team who will make your design come to life. Needless to say, in some cases, you will also need to negotiate with suppliers. As a designer, part of your job is to also collaborate with your co-professionals and the client as well to ensure you come up with the best interior design.
– Problem-solving Skills – As an interior designer, you need to be adaptable to challenges, because there are a lot of them. You know nothing is perfect, and unfortunately, some things won’t always go your way. Thus, you better be quick in finding solutions to beat the deadline, yet achieve the design you promised to deliver to your client.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations Required
Licensure requirements depend on where you are at. While some states do not particularly require one, other states have strict rules about it. In fact, there are states that only allow licensed interior designers to do interior design. In some areas, they do allow even the unlicensed to practice their knowledge, but they are only allowing the licensed ones to be called as “interior designers.”
To acquire a license, all you have to do is take the interior designer licensure examination. Again, it is a state-to-state basis.
One of the most popular licensure examinations in the field of interior design is the one administered by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification or NCIDQ. To qualify for the NCIDQ exam, you have to be a bachelor’s degree holder in interior design and must acquire at least 2 years of work experience.
In California, they require a different examination, which is conducted by the California Council for Interior Design Certification or CCIDC. To qualify for the said examination, you have to have both the education required and work experience.
Apart from these, there are also specialty certifications that you may acquire depending on what specific type of interior design are you into. These certifications are normally available through professional and trade associations that are independent of the NCIDQ licensing exam.
HOW MUCH DOES AN INTERIOR DESIGNER MAKE?
Now that you already know how to become interior designer, the next and probably one of the most important questions is, how much does an interior designer make?
According to CollegeGrad.com, the median annual salary of an interior designer is $49,810. The lowest one can get is around $26,000, while the highest amount one can earn from interior designing is around $91,000.
Indeed, it is a very competitive job to be in. Needless, to say, a fun and exciting industry that showcases nothing but artistry as well as craftsmanship.
OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION YOU SHOULD KNOW
While we think we almost already tackled some of the most commonly asked questions about the interior design industry, here are a few more valuable information that you should know:
– Interior designers are different from interior decorators.
A lot of people thought that both are the same thing. Well, sort of except for one – education.
As we mentioned earlier, an interior designer has the technicalities and the education plus the licensure and certifications.
An interior decorator, on the other hand, is literally pertaining to someone who is capable of decorating a space, and definitely has no bachelor’s degree in interior design. He or she may be artistic and creative too and loves playing around with fabrics, colors, and textiles.
– Interior design is not all about fabrics!
Some people thought that fabrics play a huge part in interior design, but really, it just pays a small part. That is why education is important to be an interior designer because you get to acquire and be more knowledgeable about the different aspects of interior design.
– Interior design is not all about fun.
Well, for someone who is into it, it’s really fun. But, apart from the fun, to be a successful and effective interior designer, you have to be educated about the history of design, building codes, the structural integrity of buildings and other structures, ethics, psychology, ergonomics, spatial concepts, as well as computer-aided drawings or CAD, and a lot more.
– Competition is high in this field.
The reality of this industry is, it is a very competitive business. That is why it is important to excel, be unique, and to step up your game. There are a lot of creative, well-equipped and seasoned interior designers out there. Once you are in, you have to continue learning and acquiring present and future trends. You have to continuously grow as a designer, otherwise, you will be left behind.
– There is an opportunity for virtual interior designers.
The technology has made it possible for clients and interior designers to connect and work together regardless of the distance.
While most of us thought that working as an interior designer requires physical meet-us, well, the time has changed. Today, you can discuss a certain project through video calls. As with the design, that can be forwarded through emails or other communication platforms.
Indeed, the interior design industry has also learned to keep up with the new generation, specifically with what technology has to offer.
So, there you have it. We hope that we were able to help you acquire knowledge and information about how to become interior designer and more.
If you think you do really have what it takes to be one, then, you better start your interior designer journey today.