Many people consider interior design as a career. The creativity involved, along with the chance to work with beautiful buildings and high quality furniture, attract many to interior design and related degree courses all over the world. However, what should would-be interior designers do when they have finished studying and want to take their first steps into the profession?
The good news is that in many countries, interior design is a very healthy industry. In the UK, which has a thriving design sector, between 6,000 and 8,000 people work as interior designers. In the US, the prospects are also good, with the interior design workforce predicted to grow by around 13% between 2012 and 2022.
In the UK, almost all professional interior designers have a degree or HND in interior design or a related subject such as graphic design, 3D design, textiles, or fine art. Most follow this with either a further qualification (gaining a Master’s degree is becoming increasingly common), or they may enter the field directly after school.
Most interior designers work for either a design consultancy or an architectural practice. Many start their careers with a training post, whereby the employer offers further ‘on the job’ training, although it is the responsibility of the employee to stay up to date with design trends and developments, and it should remain so throughout his or her career. Although occasionally an employer will offer a training post to someone unqualified in the field, the likelihood of this is very rare.
It is important to remember that although many people associate interior designers with homes and domestic interiors, they may in fact work on a huge range of projects, including shops, offices, hotels, industrial units, and even vehicles such as ships and aircraft. Interior designers may renovate existing spaces or start from scratch on a brand new building. For many fledgling interior designers, their first job is a means of gaining useful experience, even if they plan to specialize in a completely differentarea of design later in their career. For instance, it is not uncommon for interior designers to turn to theatre and museum design in later years.
The first few years of an interior designer’s career are important in terms of building a portfolio of work and a reputation within the industry. Since many design jobs are allocated on a freelance basis or are not widely advertised, being known as a good designer and being able to supply evidence of this is important. A considerable proportion of interior designers are self-employed at some stage in their careers.
Vacancies for interior designers can be found in trade journals such as Design Week and Architects’ Journal.
Becoming a good interior designer requires more than just design skills. Candidates also need to possess great organizational skills, an ability with figures, 3D awareness, and creativity. They should demonstrate sound business and commercial skills, project management ability, and an understanding of technical building issues and building materials.
While interior design is a competitive field and entry-level pay is not huge, the industry does offer a wide range of opportunitiesand great career potential for those who are talented and dedicated.