What Are the Pros and Cons of Being an Interior Designer?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published March 25, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A career in interior design can be a great way to express yourself creatively, work with a variety of clients and develop your sense of style. If you're considering a career as an interior designer, it's often useful to learn more about the position's requirements and key aspects. Reviewing some of the advantages and disadvantages of working in interior design can help you decide if the career is the right choice for your goals, skills and lifestyle needs. In this article, we describe the key requirements of the role and list the pros and cons of being an interior designer.

What are the requirements for a career in interior design?

To have a successful career in interior design, it's important to have a few key qualifications. For example, if you plan to design and decorate interiors for a client, they may require evidence of your creative skills and ability to complete projects on a deadline. A job application for a firm that hires interior designers may ask candidates to earn a certain professional credential in the field. Here are some typical requirements of most interior design positions:

Education and training

Earning a bachelor's degree can help you boost your credibility in the field and qualify for more job opportunities, as companies and clients may have different requirements. Consider pursuing an undergraduate degree in interior design, architecture or fine arts. Often, these programs teach students important skills for this career, like using specific computer programs to draft designs, understanding the structural needs of interior spaces and incorporating color elements into a creative plan.

You can also take courses at a community college or study design independently. It may also be helpful to connect with an established professional, as they may provide one-on-one mentoring or an apprenticeship opportunity. Online streaming platforms and educational websites may also have resources that can help you develop the necessary artistic and mathematical skills for this profession.

Related: Is Interior Design the Right Field for You? What To Consider

Certifications

While also not a requirement for all positions, interior designers can earn credentials for a specific skill in their industry to increase their professional qualifications and enhance their resumes. If you're planning to apply for a job with a specific employer, consider reviewing their open job descriptions to learn if there's a certification they prefer applicants to have. You can also research different options online or post an inquiry on a forum for interior design professionals, who may have helpful insights into certain programs.

Related: Interior Design Certificate vs. Degree: Differences and How To Choose

Design portfolio

As interior designers are artists, it's important to have a portfolio showcasing previous projects, design concepts and completed pieces. This can help clients know if your style and skills match their preferences for a design candidate. Consider compiling a digital or physical folder of any past drawings or completed projects, then organizing them in a logical order. As you gain more experience, you can feature new designs that demonstrate your improvements in the field.

Pros of being an interior designer

Here are some potential benefits to working as an interior designer:

You can make a good salary

According to Indeed Salaries, interior designers can expect to make an average annual salary of $57,747 per year in the United States. Having this salary can help you find high-quality housing in varied locations and may support your overall cost of living. This number may change depending on your level of experience, geographic location and your specific employer. You can improve your salary outlook by growing your portfolio, pursuing additional education and developing your skills as a designer.

Related: 10 Interior Design Careers With Salary and Job Descriptions

You can express yourself artistically

If you're passionate about developing interior spaces and expressing yourself creatively, interior design can be a great way to develop your artistic capabilities. As you develop a career, you can become more selective about which clients you choose and only select projects that you're passionate about completing. You may decide to design in a specific style or specialize in a type of room. You may work on projects that best align with your values, such as creating environmentally friendly designs using recycled materials or building spaces for nonprofit organizations.

You can choose your own hours

Depending on where you work and the requirements of an employer, you may have more schedule flexibility as an interior designer. If you choose to freelance your services and pursue your own client, you can also choose how many clients to accept during the same time period or when to meet with them about project statuses. This career may especially benefit individuals who want to pursue other career opportunities or have more time for external activities.

Related: Interior Architecture vs. Interior Design: What's the Difference?

You can select a career path

Depending on the clients you accept or the preferences of an employer, you can find interior design positions with different educational and professional backgrounds. School can be valuable for developing your skills and qualifying you for certain positions, but you can still find success as an interior designer without a formal education. For example, you might have an especially strong portfolio that shows your skills and preferred aesthetic, which may appeal to certain clients who value your approach over another trained professional. Through referrals and self-promotion, you can grow your own business.

Cons of being an interior designer

Here are some potential challenges you might encounter if you choose to pursue a career as an interior designer:

You can have demanding clients

You may accept different clients throughout your career who have different requirements and communication styles. For example, clients may demand certain specifications, establish restrictive budgets or impose high expectations. Other clients might not know what they want from their design, making it challenging to develop ideas that satisfy them. When working with a challenging client, you can often find opportunities for compromise. Developing strong customer service skills can help you appease difficult customers and ensure you fulfill a project's requirements successfully.

Related: 9 Customer Service Tips To Improve Your Skills

You might have to work on projects that aren't your style

While interior design can offer a unique opportunity to express yourself artistically, not every project might match your unique style or artistic vision. To give yourself adequate financial support, you may accept projects that only meet a few of your own requirements. You may also have to adhere to a client's specific needs or budgeting limits. When accepting a project, it's often helpful to find at least two or three distinct aspects that excite and inspire you. This can help you generate create designs for any project, which may increase your creative abilities overall.

Related: How To Become an Interior Designer

You might encounter challenges when starting a career

Starting an interior design career may have unique demands. For example, if you work for a firm, you might only have control over certain aspects of a project until you gain more experience. If you start your own business, it may take some time to promote your services successfully and build a clientele. By researching your options, studying key design concepts and developing a professional network, you can increase your chances of joining this career successfully. Applying to multiple positions may also be valuable, as you can ask hiring managers for feedback on your resume and portfolio.

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