Posted in Career Insights
how to become an interior decorator

Like playing with colors, fabrics, and textures?

You might have just the right personality and skill set for interior decorating.

People often wonder about how to become an interior decorator without a degree. Thankfully, you need only a high school diploma to get an entry-level position in interior decorating.

From there, you will get on-the-job skills and experience which will help you work toward a career as an interior decorator.

However, even if you’ve built the perfect interior in your own home, you can’t just jump into the career without having some education or experience and a portfolio.

Interior Decorating Education Requirements

 If you have an interest in becoming an interior decorator, there are a few skills and competencies that are important to have.

This includes:

  • Understanding color theory, schemes, and distribution;
  • Knowing how lighting, fabric, and flooring play a role in aesthetics;
  • Mastering furniture, plant, and accessory placement;
  • Recognizing how scale affects the dimension of space;
  • Interpreting a customer’s wants and desires; and
  • Sketching potential room layouts.

There are a number of ways in which you can learn these skills. While some choose to do an apprenticeship, others may take a course or do self-paced learning. Ultimately, the path you choose depends on your overall goals and your current level of knowledge. Here are some steps to take as you consider a career in interior decorating.

Step 1: Is This Really What You Want to Do?

You might like decorating your own home, but is this something you want to do for others? A career is built on several years of experience, so it must be something you truly like to do. You need interpersonal skills, an innate ability to detect the right color schemes, and a love for fabrics and design. You should want to build a career on these skill sets so that you can enjoy your choice.

Although it is hard to make a space for yourself in a crowded industry, interior decorating is still a rewarding career. Every day is different, and you get to turn places like commercial and residential properties and rooms into beautiful functional areas for residents and owners to use. Keep in mind, when you take any interior decorating courses, you are setting yourself up for the future. Make sure that interior decorating is something you truly want to pursue. Otherwise, you will spend a lot of time and effort chasing after a career that you truly need to be inspired by to succeed at.

Step 2: Take a Course

You can be great at interior decorating, but you probably don’t know all the professional aspects of the career.

A course can help you get a better foundation for the necessary requirements you need to take clients. You don’t even need to take an onsite course. You can take a distance learning course online to allow you to study and learn on your own time.

When you take a course, you can learn about things like room layout and color scheme, but also practical business skills like how to start a small interior decorating business, how to find clients, and how to market your services so that anyone who needs an interior decorator will be able to find you.

There are plenty of interior decorator courses, certifications, and training programs available to those that want to learn more, further their experience, and gain more skills for their work in interior decorating.

Do You Need a Degree to Work in Interior Decorating?

Generally, interior decorating does not require a formal education resulting in a college degree.

You can get an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in interior design, but this is more specialized and suited for those who want to learn design software as well. However, a degree can help you set yourself ahead of the job competition by giving you the skills and knowledge to work for a professional decorating service or at a design or architecture firm.

What About Certifications?

Having any extra education or certification can get you paid a higher salary because of the added experience you have.

That being said, the only certification program for interior decorators offered in the United States is by Certified Interior Decorators International (CID).

To receive a CID certification, you must complete either a 2-6 week online program or a 6-10 week workbook. The online program is best for those who want to get their certification quickly and consists of eight lessons. At the end of the program, students must pass a 50-question final exam to receive their certification.

After passing the exam, students receive membership to CID, which they need to renew annually. While this certification helps students stand out from other candidates, it can get expensive.

Step 3: Learn from a Professional

Like many other jobs, the best way to start a career is to learn from someone with years of experience. You can take either a paid or unpaid internship or search for a full-time position as a beginner.

When you learn from and work under a professional interior decorator, you will immediately start learning the real ins and outs of the interior decorating world. You will do everything that is needed to bring a decorating project to life from its ideas and inception to the complete finished product for the client. Furthermore, when you learn from a professional interior decorator, you will be given a jump start into the interior decorating industry.

Learning from a professional will also give you real-world experience that you can use later in your career to get other interior decorating jobs, grow your client base, and add to your portfolio of work.

Step 4: Learn as Much as You Can, Because Competition is Tough

Some careers have little competition, but interior decoration isn’t one of them. It’s why taking a course and learning from a professional with experience should be two of your top priorities. Most professionals have years of experience with a long, elegant portfolio, and this is your competition.

Your competition is what will take clients from you. Your education will give you an advantage over them since these courses teach you many of the tricks of the trade that can’t be taught by self-learning. In every career, there is an essence of trial and error, so be ready to make mistakes. However, the right course and experience will help you avoid many of the common mistakes that new interior decorators make.

Once you get over those first-year hurdles, you can start to make a rewarding career. Interior decorators can enjoy years in the industry, and the good news is that fashion changes seasonally, which means you get to learn new techniques and decorating ideas every year. Your clients will appreciate your hard work and effort, and before long you’ll have a beautiful portfolio that beats the competition.

Step 5: Create a Portfolio

When it comes to any design or decorating experience, it’s always best to have a portfolio of your previous work.

Becoming an interior decorator is more than just writing down ideas. Creating sketches of layouts, crafting a decoration concept, and then demonstrating the results through photographs help sell your ability. If you don’t have any experience, start with a room in your home or the home of a family member. This is one of the best ways to develop your knowledge and skills.

If you have the time or money, it’s also advantageous to create a website to display your portfolio, making it easy for potential clients or employers to access at any time.

Take an Interior Decorating Course

At Stratford Career Institute, we offer a fundamental course on interior decorating. Enroll today to jump-start your career and learn even more about how to become an interior decorator.

Disclaimer: Stratford Career Institute’s educational programs offer an introductory curriculum designed to help students gain knowledge necessary for the vocational application of the subject. Completion of a Stratford Career Institute program does NOT fulfill the legal requirements of particular state licenses or certifications, which may require additional training or apprenticeships.


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Learn More About Our Interior Decorating Course

Learn More About Our Interior Decorating Course

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