What Does an Interior Design Trainee Do?

Nicole Etolen

Interior designers are design specialists that work with clients to create aesthetically pleasing interior spaces. An interior design trainee is typically a design student in the last year of school, or a recently graduated student. Duties include assisting in creating and implementing design strategies, running work-related errands for the designer in charge, and working with contractors to obtain price estimates or monitor the status of a project.

A home decorated using the expertise of an interior designer.
A home decorated using the expertise of an interior designer.

Although a college education is not required for all interior designers, obtaining at least an associates degree can be very beneficial when it comes time to become an interior design trainee. In many cases, a Bachelor’s degree is preferred. Those going through a degree program may be able to get assistance in finding a designer with whom to train. Students who taking courses in computer-aided design (CAD) software may have a higher advantage when looking for a job.

One of the duties of an interior design trainee is to work with the experienced designer in coming up with plans for a project. This often involves talking to the client to determine how the space will be used and which colors, fabrics and other elements are preferred. While the supervising designer will be responsible for the final choices, a trainee can add valuable input to the process and gain experience in the field. Plans may be changed several times over the course of a project, and trainees need to be ready to adapt quickly.

Assisting with the implementation of the finalized plan is another significant duty of an interior design trainee. This involves working with painters, builders, and others that are involved in making the plans a reality. Interior designers need to be able to work well with others and remain professional yet assertive when something does not go according to plan. Good communication skills are also vital, as designers need to be able to describe their expectations in a clear and concise manner.

Running errands for the designer in charge is also part of the duties of an interior design trainee. Typically, these errands will be related to a specific project, but in the beginning trainees may be asked to perform more mundane tasks, such as getting coffee for their boss. While this can be frustrating for trainees who want to start earning experience, performing mundane tasks in a professional and efficient manner shows the designer in charge that they can follow directions and is actually part of the learning experience.

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