Interior Design Licenseor Not
As a general guideline, no U.S. state requires a license to work in interior design, though there’s an exception to this rule. In Louisiana, Florida, Nevada, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, you must be registered if you wish to work unsupervised in any commercial space. This could include hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, office buildings, medical centers, sporting facilities, and more. This might also include the common areas of condos and apartments, such as lobbies, laundry rooms, and rec centers. Within these spaces, unlicensed interior designers can still provide their services, but they must be overseen by a building professional with a license, be that an architect, engineer, or licensed interior designer.
While the above-mentioned states regulate commercial property, they legally allow both registered and unregistered designers to work unsupervised in any residential space. The rest of the states have no laws restricting the scope of practice or the settings in which any interior designer can work.
Tips For Entering The Wonderful World Of Design
The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
If you are interested in becoming an interior decorator, it’s important to know what the career path entails. You’re probably wondering how to get started as well.
A successful decorator does much more than pick out pretty fabrics and rearrange furniture. In a typical day, they may deal with cabinet spacing, steer a homeowner away from a budget-blowing item, track down a missing tile installer, work on a seasonal installation for a business storefront, make a presentation in front of an architectural review boardand the list goes on.
But how does a decorator or a person get to this point? There are a few key points that can help you understand how to become a decorator and what it takes to be a successful one. However, good decorators know that decorating is a wonderful journey and a lifelong pursuit of knowledge!
First of all, it’s good to understand that an interior decorator is not an interior designer. These are two different fields requiring different degrees and certifications.
Do You Need A License To Be An Interior Decorator
There are no governmental bodies that regulate the interior decorating profession in North America. This means that there are no licenses required to practice and no memberships necessary to work as an interior decorator. They may, however, choose to voluntarily seek certification and membership in professional associations.
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What Is An Interior Designer
An interior designer is a person who works on architecture and interior space. The interior designer develops the plans, researches, coordinates, and manages the projects. They focus on space planning all the while creating cohesive and aesthetically pleasing design ideas for homes and businesses. As an interior designer, you can focus on specializing in a particular design field, whether that be residential interior design, commercial, environmental designs, and much more.
Example Certificate Application Process #2
Ariane Laxo, State of Minnesota, Certified Interior Designer
Ariane Laxo passed her NCIDQ exam after joining the Qpractice program in 2012. She became a Certified Interior Designer in MN and was promoted to Associate after passing the NCIDQ Exam. She is now the Sustainability Director and Associate Vice President at HGA.
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What Is An Interior Decorator
An interior decorator is a professional in the housing industry who helps improve the aesthetics of rooms and other interior spaces. Unlike interior designers, who need to be skilled in architecture, interior decorators focus solely on beautifying and enhancing the function of living and work spaces.
Related: Learn About Being an Interior Designer
Reach Out To Other Decorators
This is a competitive field, but it’s rare to meet a designer who isn’t willing to share information, advice, and tools of the trade. Overall, it’s a friendly bunch and people want to help others in the field as much as possible. Of course, always be willing to pay forward or back any kindness shown to you.
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How To Get Started
The biggest question you may have is where to start. It’s one that comes with lots of answers. The best advice is to start slow and be patient. The tips below may help you to get going in the field of decorating and open up jobs and opportunities to you. Always remember, you and your work are your best tools for advertising.
Find Yourself An Interior Design Job Or Start Working For Yourself
Having a career in interior design is a highly competitive field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a projected growth of 4 percent between 2014 and 2024.
Have more questions on how to become an interior designer? Or perhaps youre ready to start earning a bachelors degree in interior architecture & design? Contact the NewSchool of Architecture & Design Enrollment Team today!
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Research The Profession Thoroughly
Before deciding this is the career path for you, be sure to research it thoroughly. As detailed in this post, interior decorating and interior designing are two different things. Ask yourself if you know the difference and which is the path for you. Also, make sure you understand that there are different pathways to start.
Questions to ask yourself include:
- What is an interior designer? What is an interior decorator?
- Am I okay with not being a part of the design process as an interior decorator?
- Do I want to go to school for this? Earn a certificate?
- How will I develop a portfolio?
- Who do I know that I can network with?
- Who do I know that will let me decorate their space?
- Are there any firms near me looking for interior decorators?
- Will this career choice fund the lifestyle I want?
While some of these questions are not specific to the interior decorating career path, they are important to research and understand before moving forward with any career.
What To Look For In A Design School
When deciding where to attend design school, looking into programs that are accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation is a wise decision, as the organization stays abreast of the most current trends, regulations, and practices of the interior design industry. According to the CIDA, accreditation process is thorough and focused solely on interior design programs that culminate in a professional-level degree. Interior design programs that voluntarily undertake the CIDA accreditation process demonstrate a strong commitment to quality and continual improvement.
Though its not essential that your design school be on the CIDA list, its a helpful qualification to look out for when beginning your research. It would also serve you well to consult a current list of the best interior design schools. In that vein, Cione recommends, Look at the rankings. Other key aspects to consider are: Who are the faculty Ill be learning from, what kinds of industry connections can I make while Im a student, what is the schools job placement rate, and can I get a job after graduation?
DesignIntelligence annually ranks the most admired U.S. interior design schools, and the following consistently top the list:
While attending design school or studying design at the college or postgraduate level, try to find a mentor, take advantage of the highly skilled faculty, and network with your contemporaries. Opportunities for learning abound in this type of educational setting.
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Florida Louisiana Nevada Washington Dc And Puerto Rico:
If you are hired to do any design work for a commercial space in Florida, Louisiana, Nevada, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, you would require a license to work alone in that space.
Commercial spaces include but are not limited to:
- Sports Facilities
- Common Areas of Residential Complexes such as Apartments or Condos
If you have accepted a job in any commercial location in the previously mentioned States and Territories, you would want to make sure you hold the proper licenses or you are accompanied by someone with the proper licensing.
If you intend to bring a licensed professional with you on this job, it doesnt have to just be a licensed interior designer.
Licensed professionals that can assist you with a commercial project can include:
- Licensed Interior Designer
Despite these regulations in regards to commercial properties, these states will legally allow unregistered interior designers to work in residential spaces without supervision.
You will also want to make sure that if you intend to work in any of these locations, your license or the license of your professional supervisor corresponds to the state you are choosing to work in.
Make sure if you are licensed, it will be sufficient for the state in which you intend to do design work.
You may even be required to get different licenses or registrations for different areas or counties.
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Exceptional Sense Of Design
As an interior decorator, you must be able to view a space and plan ways to improve its appearance. For example, you need to know if a change of fabric can improve the feel of a room or whether an office space needs its furniture rearranged to achieve the client’s aims. Your ability to understand how to improve an existing design to increase its appeal is important in interior decoration.
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What Does An Interior Designer Do
An interior designer is in charge of a lot of design elements and responsibilities which include:
- Listening to the clients needs, goals, space, interest, & budget for the desired project
- Creates a sketched design plan of the layout keeping in mind how many people will be using the space
- Uses computer software to finalize design plans
- Calculates estimated cost for projects
- Creates a timeline for the project and project completion
- Face-to-face meetings with clients to ensure the satisfaction of a project
- Seeks out any potential clients & makes offers on new projects
Do Interior Designers Need To Be Certified
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If you want to pursue an interior design career, you should research what education, training or certifications you are required to receive before technically calling yourself a professional interior designer.
Education requirements for interior designers
Legally, there are not any training prerequisites required for interior designers who want to start working with clients. However, if you do not have any prior knowledge or experience in interior design or interior decorating, it would be wise to receive some type of training, or to build a beginners interior design portfolio before you start advertising yourself as a professional. If this is something you still need to do, you can look for an affordable interior design course online or take classes locally wherever you can find in-person interior design training in your area.
Can I call myself a certified interior designer?
If you are interested in not just working as an interior design professional, but calling yourself a Certified Interior Designer, then you should pursue a certification, of which there are several credible options available.
If this is a route you are looking to take professionally, the state you reside in may require you to receive a formal interior design licensure by passing a certification exam. You can research state licensing requirements for interior designers if you want to learn more about the rules specific to your area.
How to get certified in interior design
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Registration Of Interior Designers
It is unlawful for a person not registered by the state of Arkansas as an interior designer to advertise as a registered interior designer or to use the title of registered interior designer or any other words, letters, figures, or other devices for the purpose of implying, directly or indirectly, that the person is registered by the state of Arkansas.
It is unlawful for a company, partnership, association, corporation, or other similar organization to advertise that it is in a position to provide the services of a registered interior designer unless the person providing the services are in charge of a registered interior designer.
What Is The Job Outlook For Interior Decorators
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics is the definitive source for occupational information in the United States. Because the BLS lacks a separate entry for interior decorators, it isn’t possible to cite official statistics relating to job growth. Instead we’ll look at the job outlook for interior design, as the BLS description of the field strongly overlaps with the job description for interior decorating.
The BLS estimates the interior design sector will experience a 5% decline between 2019-2029. The trend is likely to affect interior decoration and other related professions. In fact, the art and design field is expected to decline by 4%, according to the BLS. Improving your skills will increase your prospects of securing interior decoration jobs. Your ability to network and sell yourself will matter as the industry becomes increasingly competitive.
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Interior Designer Salary Data
According to the BLS, in 2014 the median annual wage for interior designers nationally was $48,400. Professionals in the 90th percentile can expect to earn just shy of $90,000. Like other industries, experience, geographical factors and the type of interior design being completed also influence annual salaries. Interior designers in the architecture and engineering industry have the highest median wage.
States/areas with the highest yearly mean wages for interior designers are as follows:
Use the map below to compare interior design salary estimates by state:
Apply To A Variety Of Interior Design Jobs
Cast a wide net as far as areas of interest, explore a host of interior design jobs, and remain open to all opportunities. If something sounds remotely interesting to you, apply to the post. You never know the connections youll make by speaking with people at various design firms.
This is an exciting time to be in interior design, the field is ripe for new thinking, imagination, and bold innovation. Being multifaceted and open to new experiences will be key, Ames Noble says. Sometimes having a specific career arc can limit yourself from what you can become and what you can offer. The future of the practice probably wont be as linear as it used to be.
When you are able to incorporate authenticity and passion into your work and have knowledge of multiple sectors and types of work, youre setting yourself up for success.
Arrange informational interviews to learn about firms and their areas of expertise. Research about different interior design jobs, and become well-informed about distinct roles within a design firm so that you see which types of positions are most in accord with your background and skill set. Learn about the company culture, the workforce, and upper management at the design firms you are targeting for employment, and pay attention when visiting workplaces for interviews. Ask yourself if you can see yourself working in this office among these colleagues.
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Build Your Portfolio & Resume
If youre earning a certificate or an undergraduate degree, you will be building your portfolio and resume by default. However, if youre not attending school, you will need to focus your time and energy on developing your portfolio/resume alone.
Whether it be via friends and familys homes or online simulations, focus on creating high-quality pieces that shine. Make sure they represent you as a designer while staying true to the clients interests and needs at heart. This step does not need to be labor-intensive or expensive. However, make sure to continue practicing so that you can present your highest quality pieces in the portfolio. Here is a list of interior decorating software, perfect for portfolio building.
Upon Graduation Pass The National Council For Interior Design Qualification Exam And Get An Interior Design License
While not all states require interior designers to be licensed, you need to make sure, because several states will prohibit unlicensed designers from doing any interior design work. Some other states allow both to work, but will only allow licensed professionals to use the interior designer title.
To become a licensed interior designer, you will need to pass the National Council for Interior Design Qualification exam. This is a state-approved exam that you must qualify for with a combination of education and experience, typically a minimum of a bachelors degree and two years of on-the-job training.
As we mentioned, the requirements do vary by state, so make sure to look into your state requirements. For example, California residents must take the California Council for Interior Design Certification exam.
There are also some voluntary certifications you can get if you have a business that focuses on one specialty of interior design. These are commonly available through professional and trade associations and are a good way to make your business look better with a certified seal of approval from a trusted organization.
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