Interior designers bring beauty to the insides of homes and buildings. These professionals must work with different materials and design elements to create functional and pleasing spaces. In the past, interior designers were thought of as people who only needed to understand throw pillows and window sashes. Now, however, success in the field requires training in architecture, building code, green technology, furniture manufacture, and a range of other technical subjects. The licensure examination for aspiring interior designers is one of the most complicated outside of law and medicine. Nevertheless, it is possible to learn interior design with distance education.
On a given day, an interior designer might be drawing up plans, meeting with prospective clients, surveying a site, or shopping for furnishings. The variety of tasks in this business is one of the reasons for its popularity. Usually, a designer is given a budget and a general vision by his or her client. The designer then uses his or her experience and creative savvy to develop and implement the vision. Many designers specialize in certain design tasks, like green design or ergonomic design.
Even entry-level jobs in this profession require a bit of education and training. Bachelor’s or associate’s degree programs in interior design typically include coursework in drawing, textiles, architecture, furniture design, and ergonomics. In order to enter one of these programs, applicants may have to submit a portfolio including sketches and computer-assisted design work. Those who earn an associate’s degree are qualified to take jobs as interior design assistants. Indeed, many graduates of associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs begin their careers as apprentices to established designers. These apprenticeships do not pay very well, but they allow fledgling designers to acquire essential experience and contacts in the industry.
There is a nationally recognized license for interior designers. It is administered by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification. Candidates for this licensure must have a minimum of six years of education and experience in the field, of which a minimum of two years must be postsecondary education. To earn the qualification, one must pass a comprehensive and challenging examination. There are also specialized certifications in residential kitchen and bath design. These credentials are issued by the National Kitchen and Bath Association.
Certification is a major help when looking for work, but it is not the only important factor. It is also crucial for would-be interior designers to have experience with computer-aided design software and other design technology. Moreover, aspiring designers need to demonstrate a broad knowledge of design trends. Specialized training is usually provided on the job; it is more important for prospective designers to have general knowledge in the field.
Interior designers make an average annual salary of $44,950. However, some of the top designers make considerably more. Indeed, the top 10 percent make more than $82,750 a year. Interior designers have a higher median income when they work in architecture, engineering, or specialized design services. They tend to make a little less when they work in furniture stores or for building material and supplies dealers. A great many interior designers are self-employed, in which case they typically earn a per-hour wage and a percentage of the total cost of design materials, as for instance furniture and artwork. On larger commercial projects, an interior designer might charge a flat fee or by the square foot. Although self-employed designers must pay for their own benefits, many of them do quite well.
There is expected to be an increasing demand for interior designers in the future, though it will be accompanied by an increased number of people entering the field. Surveys suggest that more people are appreciating the benefits of interior design, and so homeowners and office managers alike are more likely to enlist the aid of qualified designers. There is also likely to be an increased demand for specialized design services, like kitchen and bathroom design. Designers who are abreast of technological advances will have an easier time finding work. Also, if the economy rebounds, there is likely to be a strong demand for designers who have mastered environmentally sound methods. Because there will be such intense competition for jobs, only those designers with excellent credentials and a strong portfolio will survive. The economic outlook for interior designers is closely tied to the success of the economy; during times of recession, designers can expect to receive much less business.