How do I Become an Interior Designer?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 27 October 2018
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If you want to become an interior designer, working on decorating projects plus earning an education in design is a good way to get started. Interior designers must understand the importance of lighting and color as well as how to best lay out furniture in a space. They are also aware of design trends as well as knowledgeable about traditional styles. It's possible to become an interior designer by creating a portfolio, earning a certificate or degree in design and then interning with an interior design company, home building contractor or retail store.

Aspiring interior designers should read decorating magazines and actually create hands-on decor projects. These can be personal projects in your own home or in friends' or relatives' homes. By taking photographs of the room before and after you designed and decorated it, you've started collecting material to use for your portfolio. A portfolio is important to have if you want to become an interior designer. Your portfolio should be a collection of your best design work that you show to potential employers along with your resume.


In addition to doing design and decorating projects on your own initiative, you should study interior design formally to earn at least a certificate or bachelor's degree. Your portfolio can help you get into design school. To find a quality interior design school, it's a good idea to speak with designers who inspire you as well as employers you'd like to work with to get their advice. As you learn more about home decor and decorating techniques in school, you should keep creating and completing new design projects to photograph for your portfolio and to give you experience. Keep in mind that the quality of your portfolio is more important that the quantity of projects you include in it.

Check with your interior decorating school to find out about internship programs. Interning can give you valuable work experience because understanding the detailed work that design interns are often given is crucial in becoming a good designer. Interns in the interior decorating field often learn about suppliers and project management as well as how to keep projects on deadline. If you want to become an interior designer, you're expected to be mature and work well with others in order to complete design projects. Computer knowledge is also essential in learning how to be an interior designer since today's designers plan room decors using design software.

While aspiring and entry-level interior designers often do hands-on decorating tasks, more experienced interior designers focus on design. The biggest difference between interior decorators and interior designers is that decorators don't deal with design structure. Interior designers understand the role of architecture in design and may give clients having new space built advice on the placement of doorways and other architectural features. While decorators aren't usually certified, interior designers earn certification through the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ). They must have a minimum of a certificate degree in design, plus a specified number of hours of work experience before passing an exam to receive NCIDQ certification.



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