An interior decorator is one who, using current design trends, creates a product. Once the product has been designed, it is then laid out and refined to meet with a client’s needs. Once the client is satisfied with the product, the designer will then put the plan into action. Depending on what the client is attempting to do, the final goal may be to sell merchandise, raise productivity, create a certain environment or improve a life style. The design must be aesthetic and practical while achieving this goal. Some interior decorators choose to specialize in only one aspect of this process while others will take the whole project on from start to finish.
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An interior designer will do a number of things in the course of a project. The first step in the process is to meet with the client to assess their wants and needs. Upon determining what the ultimate goal is, the interior decorators then visits the work area. This will allow the positives and negatives of the area to be assessed. Now that the designer knows what he is working with, he will look at how the color, texture, lighting and space interact. He will see where changes will need to be made and what is already in place that may be used. Now the planning begins.
The interior designer will formulate a design plan and estimate the costs of putting this plan into action. Computer-assisted drawing software is very useful as it makes it easier to refine drawings and accommodate client needs. Materials will be chosen and, in some cases, architects and engineers must be hired. If work of this nature is required, contractors will also have to be employed. The interior designer works to develop a time line and coordinate schedules, ensuring projects are completed in a timely manner.
Some in the interior design field choose to specialize in a particular area. This includes interior decorators who work in a retail setting. With this type of work, the client’s work area will most likely not be visited. All work with be done within the retail store and only products from that store will be used. Others choose to specialize in a certain area such as electronics and home theater design. If you are looking to specialize, consider environmental design, ergonomic design or elder design. All are up and coming fields with an abundance of work.
Training and Education Requirements
If you wish to obtain an entry level position in this field, postsecondary education is a must. Courses are available from both professional design schools or colleges and programs may take anywhere from two to four years to complete. Two and three year programs are suitable for those wishing to obtain a job as an assistant to an interior decorator or designer. Upon completion of the program, you will receive a certificate or an associate degree. If you wish to enter a formal design apprenticeship program, a bachelor’s degree will take four years. Look for schools which are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. Courses covered should include such topics as color and fabrics, perspective and computer-assisted drawing as well as psychology and ethics.
After formal training, you will be able to find an apprenticeship program. This will take from one to three years. Contact the National Council for Interior Design Qualification to find an appropriate position as they offer the Interior Design Experience Program. This program not only supervises your work, but also offers mentoring services.
Some states do require that you be licensed. The National Council for Interior Design Qualification administers this exam. In order to take the exam, you must have six years of combined education and experience. Two years of this must be post-secondary education. Upon successful completion of the exam, you will be licensed to work in the state of your choosing.
Salary and Wages
The average salary for an interior designer, as of 2008, was $44,950. This will also depend on the industry in which you choose to work as well as how long you have been in the field. Those who work for suppliers of building materials tend to make less while those in the engineering or architectural fields make the most. Salaried employees who work in a specialized firm have higher, more stable salaries generally while those who work in retail stores on commission often have irregular paychecks.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Many interior designers choose to obtain optional certifications. Most are in residential kitchen and bath design. This type of certification is offered by the National Kitchen and Bath Association. You may choose from many different levels of certification. All will require training seminars and/or certification exams.
Many professional associations are available for those working in the interior design/decorator field. One may choose to join the American Society of Interior Designers or Certified Interior Decorators International. Others opt to go with the Interior Design Society or the Council for Qualification of Residential Interior Designers. You may wish to check them all out and choose ones which feel right for you.