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What to expect from an interior designer career

When starting out in a new career as an interior designer, it can be difficult to know what to expect. With interior design, there are a few stereotypes of what the job entails, such as needing a creative flair for example. Our article will guide you through what to expect from a job in interior design. We will be touching on what employers will expect from you, the conditions you will work in, the pay and where a job in interior design may lead you in future.

Before starting as an interior designer, it is vital you know what to expect and are comfortable with the requirements so that your expectations can be fulfilled.

The work of an Interior Designer

As an interior designer, you will be responsible for planning and supervising the design of a building’s interior. Whilst this will require you to be naturally creative, this is not the only skill the job demands.

There are several different types of buildings you may be employed to work on, these can include but are not limited to: private homes, offices, hotels and shops.

You will therefore be expected to be able to work with a number of different people and tailor your skills to suit different needs. It is important that you have a qualification in art and/or design as this is what employers usually look for to verify your skills. This may be a design related foundation degree, HDN or degree.

Aside from excellent design skills, the job will also require:

  • Meeting with clients to discuss ideas and requirements
  • Responding to these ideas with your own by using your design, budgeting and practical skills
  • Preparing initial sketches to show your client
  • Stick to their budget by working out costs and estimates
  • Advising on colour schemes, fittings and furniture
  • Creating detailed drawings, usually by using a computer
  • You may also want to familiarise yourself with other reliable tradesmen who will assist on the job

Working conditions and hours

Interior designers will usually be based in a studio or office. However, they will spend a lot of time visiting clients to discuss their ideas and needs with them. Depending on the location of the client’s site, the contractors or the suppliers, this may require overnight trips. If you decide to become a freelance designer you will more likely work from home or rent a studio or share an office space. Your hours may be irregular and long. They can often require you to work at weekends or in the evenings. As an interior designer, you will not usually be expected to adhere to a certain dress code and a sense of individuality in your style is accepted in this creative industry. However, if you are working on a large project where structural work is being made, you will be expected to comply with health and safety standards and where protective equipment.

Career progression including salaries

When first entering the profession, most designers tend to spend several years gaining experience and building up their portfolio. They may also take this time to refine and decide on what sector of work they would like to focus on. As a junior designer, you could expect a salary of £18,000 - £23,000 a year. Once you have built a reputation for yourself this will grow. For example, an experienced designer averages an earning of £25,000 - £30,000 a year. If you decide to be self-employed, you may want to charge roughly £30-£50 an hour for your expertise.

Find out more in 
"How to start a successful and profitable interior design business" by Sara Corker

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