Becoming a home interior designer requires a certain level of design experience, education and training. The extent of experience and education needed varies from one professional to the next.
But, there are various programs, certifications and degree-related educational pathways that can help you gain the needed skills and insights to become a successful home interior designer. Let’s take a look at the various education and training requirements to become a home interior designer:
How to Become a Home Interior Designer
Education and training are essential when considering a career in the field of interior design. Before becoming a professional home interior designer, it is necessary to have at least an Associate’s degree in Interior Design from an accredited educational institution. This degree will provide knowledge of subjects like drawing techniques to create space plans, color theory, cost estimating techniques, environmental considerations for residential spaces, product selection for residential spaces and more.
Those interested in increasing their knowledge may also pursue bachelor or master degrees in interior design. Along with completing these degrees, certification through organizations like the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) or the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) are required for many career opportunities as a home interior designer.
Finally, fundamental computer-aided drafting and 3D rendering skills are required in order to be able to produce comfortable and functional designs that meet the needs of clients. Having experience with popular drafting software such as AutoCAD and other programs like SketchUp will enable one to easily create design solution drawings that accurately display their envisioned spaces and designs.
Participate in internships
Participating in internships is an important part of gaining the necessary experience to become a home interior designer. Internships can also help build a network of contacts in the industry, and provide opportunities to discover the various roles and industries related to home interior design.
Additionally, many schools and organizations offer internships, offering students first-hand experience working with clients, designers, contractors and vendors as well as seeing what it is like on a job site. Internships vary in length from a few weeks to several months depending on the establishment providing them.
Take additional courses related to interior design
In many cases, taking additional courses related to interior design is the best way to increase your knowledge and expertise. Taking courses can help you become familiar with the fundamental concepts of interior design, such as fabrics and furniture, architecture and space planning, the layout of specific rooms like bathroom or kitchen layout, color theory for interiors and lighting design. You can also explore specific skills such as models and 3D simulations for interior spaces.
Educational courses may be taken through traditional use or through a distance learning option. Besides educational courses, participating in seminars may be useful. Seminars are short educational events that provide opportunities to learn from experienced professionals in the fields such as home staging, materials selection and furniture trends. Networking with other designers may create an even better source of information to individuals interested in design careers. Attending trade shows allow professionals to share their skill sets that may not be routinely taught in educational institutions. Through these avenues an individual aspiring to become a home interior designer can build their portfolio and achieve career growth with ease.
Licensing and Certification
Becoming a home interior designer can be an exciting and rewarding career. To effectively help clients design their dream homes, aspiring home interior designers must first understand the licensing and certification requirements necessary to work in their field. Different levels of certification vary from state to state, so it’s important to understand the regulations and requirements in the area where you practice.
Let’s take a closer look at the licensing and certification necessary to become a successful home interior designer:
Become certified by a professional organization
Becoming certified by a professional organization can believably demonstrate your experience, competence, and proficiency as a home interior designer. Many organizations offer certifications for individuals who have obtained the required educational qualifications and are looking to showcase their expertise in the design space.
In order to become certified by professional organizations such as the Interior Designers of Canada (IDC) or the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), applicants must meet an array of requirements that include education and examinations as well as providing proof of professional experience in interior design. In some cases, these examinations also need to be passed before being eligible for registration with any regulatory bodies.
The certifications from these organizations can provide a level of credibility that potentially make you more desirable to potential clients while offering you legal protection should disputes arise between you and someone who has hired your services. As such, it is recommended that those who are serious about becoming home interior designers consider pursuing certification through one of these organizations.
Obtain a license in your state
Obtaining a license in your state is the most important first step towards becoming a certified home interior designer. Depending on the laws of the state, these may include:
- Completing postsecondary education and gaining industry experience;
- Passing any required tests or examinations;
- Registering with local agencies;
- Meeting continuing education requirements; and
- Charge an annual fee to renew your license.
Qualifications may vary between states and the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) provides guidance on licensing requirements by state. Once you’ve obtained your license, there are additional certifications available if you desire to further advance your career in interior design. Certifications such as those offered by ASID allow an individual to indicate they have achieved a particular educational level in residential interior design services or commercial interior design services. Other professional designations such as “Certified Interior Decorator” can help identify professionals that are qualified to provide decorating services based on their level of knowledge, skills, and experience.
Professional experience is an important step in becoming a home interior designer. It is necessary to understand the principles of design, how a home interior is constructed, and how different materials interact with one another. Experienced designers can also provide tips and advice on how to successfully complete projects.
Professional experience can provide valuable insight into the field of home interior design, and can also be extremely important in obtaining a job in this field.
Gain experience through working with a design firm
Working for a professional design firm is often the most effective route toward gaining the experience needed to become a home interior designer. Interior design firms usually comprise multiple different professionals, such as architects, construction workers and home improvement contractors. Working in a team environment allows an individual to learn from qualified professionals as well as benefit from the combined knowledge of each person’s specific skill set.
In addition to having access to experienced mentors, working at a design firm lets one hone their artistry while also increasing their technical knowledge through exposure to different tools and materials used in interior designs. Understanding the business side of designing can also be beneficial; staying up-to-date with EU regulations, the cost of supplies and where to obtain them cost-effectively are all important components that need to be online when working within a budget.
Overall, interning or working at a firm will expose prospective designers to diverse projects, further helping them shape their skillset into an appealing portfolio piece:
- Learning from qualified professionals.
- Benefiting from the combined knowledge of each person’s specific skill set.
- Honing artistry and increasing technical knowledge.
- Staying up-to-date with EU regulations, the cost of supplies and where to obtain them cost-effectively.
- Exposing prospective designers to diverse projects.
Create a portfolio of your work
Creating a portfolio of your work is one of the most important steps to becoming a successful home interior designer. Not only does this demonstrate your experience, it also gives potential clients or employers an insight into your style, eye for detail and ability to create attractive, functional spaces.
When creating a portfolio of your work, start with a cover page that contains contact information and a brief profile about yourself and your design experience. This will give clients an idea of your background and the type of work you are capable of producing.
After the cover page, divide the portfolio into separate sections for:
- Residential design
- Commercial design (if applicable)
- Landscape/outdoor design (if applicable)
- Any other specialties you may have (e.g., kitchen design).
Take special care to include photos that visually showcase each project from various angles so that potential clients can get a sense of the scope and depth of your work. Be sure to include information on what materials were used in each project as well as unique elements you included in each one that makes it stand out from other designers’ projects. Ultimately, this will give you an edge when competing for new clients or job positions at interior design companies or firms.
For those looking to become a home interior designer, networking is an important factor to consider. Through networking, you can gain valuable connections and experience that you may not be able to get elsewhere.
Networking allows you to get real-life experience in interior design and can give you the opportunity to connect with other professionals in the field. Networking can also help you learn more about the industry, stay up-to-date with new trends, and build a strong portfolio of work.
- Benefits of networking include:
- Gaining valuable connections and experience
- Getting real-life experience in interior design
- Connecting with other professionals in the field
- Learning more about the industry
- Staying up-to-date with new trends
- Building a strong portfolio of work
Join professional organizations
Joining professional organizations is an important way to stay connected in the industry and gain visibility. Organizations such as ASID, IIDA and IDC offer workshops, educational programs and networking opportunities that may provide invaluable resources to the interior designer. Plus, having a current membership from one or more of these professional organizations looks great on a resume.
Networking events also can provide interior designers with chances to communicate with other industry professionals about job openings in their area, tap into resources for market analysis, and gain access to hot topics in the design field. Industry-specific trade shows are ideal for networking with peers who work for other companies or even those who have established their own companies. Social media provides another platform for interior designers to foster relationships with industry contacts and build their professional network.
Connect with other interior designers
Networking is an essential part of becoming a professional home interior designer. Connecting with other designers and industry professionals can be an invaluable resource when it comes to obtaining new clients, gaining knowledge and insight into the profession, and staying ahead of the latest trends. It’s important to make sure you are reaching out to other interior designers at all levels of their careers – from those just beginning their journey to veteran designers with years of experience.
To connect with other interior designers, start by attending events specifically geared toward the field such as industry conferences or trade shows. Make sure you introduce yourself; this is a great way to start networking within a professional environment. You can also reach out online by joining groups on LinkedIn or participating in online discussions at sites like Houzz or Apartment Therapy. Additionally, take time to seek out relevant blogs or even volunteer within your community at organizations dedicated to promoting design or architecture – both are excellent ways for you to learn about the industry and meet professionals within your discipline who could possibly lead you toward different opportunities.