How to Become an Interior Designer

Learn about how to become an interior designer with the following guide, which provides detailed information on this field, including potential careers, career outlook, and salary estimates.

Should I Become an Interior Design?

Interior designers are trained professionals who make indoor spaces beautiful, safe, and functional by working out the space requirements and selecting decorative items such as lights, colors, materials, etc. To be able to effectively do this, they need to be aware of the building codes, legal standards, inspection regulations, and accessibility principles.

If you think you have an artistic streak in you that you can put to good use in designing interiors, then you might want to consider the career of an interior designer. The following table sheds some light on this career.

Education Required Bachelor’s Degree
Training None
Licenses/Certifications Varies by state
Key Skills Artistic Ability, Interpersonal Skills, Problem-solving Skills, Creativity, Attention to Detail, and visualization
Annual Mean Salary (2019) – National $60,990
Job Outlook (2018-28) 4%

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Outlook for an Interior Designer

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for interior designers are set to grow by 4% in the years from 2018 to 2028. This demand will be a result of changing consumer expectations regarding the interiors of various structures, such as accessibility and environmental friendliness concerns. In addition to that, demand for interior designers will also be driven by renovation and remodeling projects.

Steps to Become an Interior Designer

Get a Degree in Interior Design

Even though formal education is not a must, candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree in interior design enjoy better job prospects. Students will be required to develop an understanding of computer-aided design (CAD) software, along with working on their drawing skills. Degrees at the associate’s and master’s levels are also available.

Pass the National Council for Interior Design Qualification Exam

This licensing exam is not required by all states. However, a lot of states do not allow unlicensed interior designers to practice. Candidates will be required to pass the NCIDQ exam after completing the educational and experience requirements.

Get Some Work Experience

Interior designers who are just starting out might find it hard to find work initially, without any prior experience. It is recommended that you start with some pro bono projects to get into the market. Be sure to take quality photographs of all your work to build a professional portfolio. In addition to photos, you can add a selection of your drawings and sketches to the portfolio.

Look for Work

You can find work with an interior design company or can work on freelance projects. 23% of interior designers are self-employed workers while 6% work in furniture stores.

How Long Does It Take to Become an Interior Designer?

The amount of time it takes to become an interior designer would depend on the educational path you take. If you enter the job market with a bachelor’s degree, you are looking at 4 years of education, while if you go for an additional master’s degree, you will need 2 more years of time investment.

What Are the Requirements to Become an Interior Designer?

The requirements to become an interior designer are typically as follows:

  • Get a bachelor’s degree
  • Get licensed, if needed
  • Build up a portfolio
  • Look for a job
  • Consider continuing education

How Much Can I Make as an Interior Designer?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Interior Designers in the country made an annual mean income of $60,990 in 2019. The top-paying industry for this occupation was the Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation), with an annual mean wage of $81,510. The highest paying state for interior designers was Rhode Island, with an annual mean wage of $73,190 in 2019.