Things You Should Know Before Becoming An Interior Designer

1. There Is a Difference Between Decorators and Designers

What’s the difference between interior decorators and interior designers? In one word: education.

Literally anyone can become an interior decorator. Someone who loves playing with colors, fabrics and textiles can become a decorator by simply printing business cards and promoting themselves to clients. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but educational background is also important.

On the other hand, an interior designer must have an accredited education; an associate or bachelor’s degree is a requisite for working in the interior design field. Do you want to pursue an education, or jump immediately into the decorating world? Keep reading to see if interior design could be the right fit for you.

2. You Must Have a Knack for Design

It may seem obvious, but in order to become an interior designer, you need to have an innate flair for color, spatial arrangements, architecture and textiles. Do you enjoy decorating your home and get lots of compliments on your decor? That doesn’t necessarily mean you should be an interior designer, but it’s certainly a good sign.

The first step to a successful career is to follow your passion. After all, doing something you love will never feel like work.

3. Interior Design Isn’t All Fabric and Fun

While fabrics, furniture and color may play a large role in interior design, there are plenty of other tasks that are required of interior designers — many of which may seem less like fun and more like work.

Interior designers need to be educated in the history of design, the structural integrity of buildings, building codes, ergonomics, spatial concepts, ethics, psychology, computer-aided drawing (CAD) and much more.

It might seem that interior designers are expected to be Jacks (or Jills) of all trades, doesn’t it? This broad range of skills is required because designers work with not only homeowners, but also builders, architects, government agencies and business owners.  To become a successful interior designer, one needs to be educated and well-rounded.

4. The Salary Isn’t as High as You Think

Show me the money! After all, shouldn’t someone with such a vast education get paid well? It depends. Statistics show that the median salary of an entry-level interior designer in the U.S. is $42,380 per year.

Of course, this depends on a lot of factors, such as education, location, work experience and size of the firm/company. An interior designer at a furniture company will most likely make less than a designer who works for a high-end architectural firm.

Essentially, you can dictate your rate of pay by gaining as much exposure and experience as possible. Someone with education in the fields of architecture, building codes/laws and structural design will more likely become financially successful.

5. You Need to Be a People Person

Ask interior designers to share their experiences, and they will surely relate some horror stories of past clients. People are finicky, especially when it comes to their homes. While some clients have clear goals in mind, others may think they know what they want only to discover that they hate the final product and are dissatisfied with your work.

A successful interior designer is a people pleaser and a mitigator (and sometimes a mind reader) — someone who can steer clients toward a favorable outcome while making them feel they are in full control of the design choices. Interior designers are constantly balancing their design decisions and their clients’ desires. It’s not a cakewalk, to say the least.

6. You Need to Develop a Portfolio

A picture says a thousand words, and this is definitely true when it comes to an interior designer’s portfolio. You can talk all day long about colors and textiles, but unless you have an outstanding portfolio that showcases your designs and projects, your successes will be few and far between.

If you are just coming out of school and are new to the job market, it may be necessary to offer your services for free or at a reduced rate. This is probably the best way to get a portfolio started; it’s also a great way to get to know local merchandisers and suppliers, and develop a rapport for future projects.

Everybody starts at the bottom. With some effort, experience and proper marketing, you can become a successful force in the interior design field.

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