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Interior Designer Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: April 15, 2023

An Interior Designer, or Residential Interior Designer, oversees the design and decorative process for both working and living areas from start to finish. Their main duties include sketching various design plans, determining costs for different projects and sourcing materials and products for the designs.

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Interior Designer duties and responsibilities

An Interior Designer may work for a variety of clients, from homeowners to corporations, so their everyday duties vary depending on their current client and the firm they work for. Their basic responsibilities primarily involve:

  • Visiting job sites to analyze space availability, design needs and the purpose of the space
  • Attending client meetings to understand the design needs and client preferences regarding interior styles and colors
  • Creating initial design sketches, color themes and ideas based on client requirements and space availability
  • Getting approval from the client before creating CAD designs and detailed briefs for workers and supervisors
  • Hiring contractors and vendors to implement design ideas, such as Carpenters, Painters, Plumbers, Electricians and Artists
  • Overseeing the buying process of all raw materials and items required to complete the project
  • Arranging client visits and keeping everyone involved in the project appraised of its progress
  • Ensuring project completion within the allocated budget and timeline
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What does an Interior Designer do?

Interior Designers are creative professionals who create indoor spaces that are safe, functional and visually appealing. They work closely with clients to design either residential or commercial spaces that meet the clients’ design needs and preferences. Interior Designers often search for new projects and place their bid, which details how long the project may take, their ideas for it and the cost estimate.

When the Interior Designer is chosen to design a space, they’ll sketch design plans either by hand or using a computer-aided design software. They’ll specify what materials and other items they’ll use to decorate the area, including furniture, lighting and flooring pieces. Interior Designers will also build a timeline and cost projection for the client to explain how long the project with take and how much funding is needed for each section of the project.

Interior Designer skills and qualifications

An Interior Designer needs a certain set of skills in order to effectively design, implement and oversee the completion of a project, including:

  • Strong creativity, artistic ability and imagination
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Ability to read and draw blueprints
  • Knowledge of the quality, rates and locations of raw materials
  • Ability to coordinate with multiple teams and resolve any issues regarding operation and delay
  • Strong leadership and management skills
  • Advanced attention to detail
  • Problem-solving skills

Interior Designer salary expectations

An Interior Designer makes an average of $61,485 per year. This salary may vary depending on a candidate’s level of experience, education and geographical location.

Interior Designer education and training requirements

Most Interior Designers are expected to acquire a bachelor’s degree in interior design, though some companies may choose to hire candidates who are artistically inclined and have more general degrees as long as they took coursework in interior design, such as computer-aided design (CAD) and drawing. Some organizations may also prefer to hire applicants who have passed the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam, and others might look for candidates who have certifications in their specific area of interior design, such as corporate, kitchen and bath, sustainability, healthcare and universal concepts.

Interior Designer experience requirements

To obtain the NCIDQ certification, Interior Designers will need two years of experience working in the field, and most organizations look for candidates with this qualification and experience. This experience often comes in the form of an internship or apprenticeship with an arts-focused company like an interior design studio or architecture firm. Some companies look for candidates who have specialized in a certain area, which they may have done during an internship. The type and amount of experience they need also varies depending on the size and type of firm looking for an Interior Designer.

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Frequently asked questions about Interior Designers

What makes a good Interior Designer?

A great Interior Designer is creative and artistic, as they regularly come up with and sketch unique and visually appealing designs for clients. Since they’re regularly collaborating with other employees or clients throughout the construction process, they should have effective communication skills to explain their artistic vision clearly to different individuals.

Strong attention to detail is also important for the ideal candidate, as they must ensure they’re following certain regulations and codes when designing different areas. Project management skills and experience are also preferred, as they’re overseeing and providing guidance to employees throughout the entirety of the project.

What are the different types of Interior Designers?

Interior Designers can work in a more general role, or they may choose to specialize in a specific type of interior design subject. Some may choose to work mainly on buildings as Commercial Interior Designers, helping to design larger entities, like hospitals, apartment buildings or hotels. Others may work as Residential Interior Designers, decorating and designing spaces in homes and apartments.

They may specialize in designing certain rooms within a house. Other Interior Designers may work in a retail setting in home-furnishing stores, giving design advice to customers buying certain furnishings and materials for their houses.

Do Interior Designers have different responsibilities in different industries?

There are many different industries Interior Designers can work in, but their tasks still typically center on designing living or commercial spaces. Some Interior Designers work in the corporate setting, designing offices for various businesses. They may design offices of all sizes to ensure their safe and functional for employees.

Healthcare Designers practice an evidence-based design process to renovate different healthcare facilities, like doctor’s offices, clinics, residential care facilities and hospitals. Some Interior Designers work in the sustainability field, using strategies to enhance water and indoor air quality in different homes using environmentally-friendly products and decorations.

What's the difference between an Interior Designer and an Interior Decorator?

Though they both share similarities of designing and decorating spaces for individuals, they hold key differences when it comes to their responsibilities and education. Interior Designers usually receive extensive training and credentials to be qualified to use design software to sketch designs. They must also pass an exam with their state to be considered an Interior Designer.

Interior Decorators aren’t required to receive formal training, as they typically perform more basic tasks of helping individuals decorate their living space. They usually help homebuyers pick styles, color schemes and furniture pieces that best match their preferences and fit within their budget. Unlike Interior Designers, they rarely decorate building spaces and instead stick primarily to decorating homes.

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