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So, You Want To Be An Interior Designer? Part 3

By Rhonda Layton of Myinteriordecorator.com 


Editors Note: This article has been written because numerous questions we receive regarding entrance into this field.  Ms. Layton has allowed us to publish this information and regrets that she will not be able to answer personal emails on this subject.


If you are wondering about schools, contact FIDER. If you want to know about being a licensed designer versus a decorator, please contact NCIDQ. Thank You.


As odd as it sounds, you should take as many business classes and any and every course on selling/marketing as you can. Interior design is about 90% networking, marketing, selling, knowing the right people and this little thing they call hutzbaugh (probably spelled incorrectly!), 7% paperwork and 3% design. Even odder, take theatre classes. When you are making a sales pitch, you have to be confident and in control. Theatre will give you some skills to use in these situations. Take art and drawing classes. If you can sketch an idea you have to show a client, you will most likely win the project every time. Take art, furniture and antique history classes too. They all come in to play every day in the design industry.

In school, the classes are more intense and time consuming. Not only do you have all the reading and tests as every other class but you have very large projects as well. It isn't a program for someone who wants an easy major. Lots of blood (I could show you my sliced thumb), sweat…., and tears (see the section on passion and vision) goes into making a good designer!

Specialty Fields Within Interior Design

There are so many different fields to enter in the design profession. You could be a residential interior designer serving home owners or you could practice commercial interior design. Within commercial design you could work on offices, restaurants, banks, malls, hotels, and on and on. Within each of those specialties, you could be a project manager heading up the entire project or a draftsperson or a specifier of products. You could be a sales representative for a number of different products. You could own or operate a drapery workroom or fabric warehouse, a design firm, be a partner in a firm, a painter, wall paper hanger, carpet layer….. the sky is the limit!

After School, Then What?

Internships! Good internships. That is the way to get into the business, work for free for other companies to get experience and real world knowledge. If you are good, they will most likely hire you after your internship is over. Do whatever you can for good respectable design companies. This is your foot in the door.

While there however, remember that this business is a small close knit business. Everyone knows everyone. Be professional at all times and NEVER speak badly about anyone because it will come back to haunt you.

I write this section with painful experience on two counts. I did not serve well in my internships, or with good companies and I did not watch my tongue once. It was a bad thing but I learned my lesson. Don't make the same mistakes.

Salary Range

Salary range as with most professions is pretty broad. You may begin as a junior level assistant at the mid $20's and proceed to be a partner in the $200,000's+. If you specialize in an area, your income potential greatly increases. It is unfortunately too broad to pin point.

Before Deciding on Interior Design, Having Vision & Passion, & Knowing If You Have What It Takes

When I was a junior in college, I got my first really big project. I worked and worked at it, day and night for weeks. It was the night before the project was due and I was in the school studio at 11:30 PM, I had about 4 hours of work still left to finish. As I was leaving, I stopped to look at some senior level projects. They were insanely massive. I panicked! How could I ever do THAT when I was having trouble with this little (in comparison) junior level project? I went home crying and called my parents. I told them I was dropping out of school, I didn't think I could cut it. They calmed me down, helped to show me that I would build myself to the big project and convinced me to stay in school. When I finally got to that senior level project, it was a breeze and I was so proud of myself for sticking it out. I not only finished my bachelor's degree, but with honors!!!

If it hadn't been for that night in the studio, I probably wouldn't be writing to you today. It taught me to see beyond the moment and to learn something new everyday. It helped to instilled my complete love of interior design.

Before you get into this profession you should seriously consider if you have what it takes. There are long hours and lots of things you have to do that you may not want to do but if you have a genuine passion and lust for interior design, it will make it all worth while and you will be happy and successful.

You should start your career with a very specific vision. If you don't know where you are going, you are never going to get there. I borrowed that BUT it still applies. 

Know what you want, follow your heart, and make sound decisions, if they don't work, try something else and you will succeed!!  



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