As it happens, the field is a lot more than one’s Aunt Martha coming in with a swath of carpet samples and swatches of the latest wall paints. Interior design is actually about getting the maximum use out of a living, public or work space. Like the ancient art of feng shui, it’s also about creating an environment that causes a particular desired effect, whether it’s to get the most work out of employees or to make one feel at home when the work day is over and done.
To be more specific, an interior designer sits down with a client and comes up with a plan for their space while keeping an eye on such things as budget, safety and schedule. From there, they often have to hire others to help them with anything from plumbing and electrical work to painting the walls.
The occupation isn’t, like the TV portrays, restricted to an apartment’s living room. Many designers actually specialize in doing such buildings as hospitals and office buildings. They can also specialize on the ergonomic value of an office. There’s even a new offshoot that concentrates on energy efficiency and other green matters.
Post-secondary school education in interior design is no joke either. Most recruiters will accept a candidate with a two year degree or vocational certificate and a good portfolio and experience. Others prefer a full bachelor’s degree. Areas of study should include drawing, CAD, basic architecture, furniture, color and spatial planning. After graduating, there is usually also an apprenticeship or internship program. From there, many interior designers go on to freelance and build their own fortunes.
In fact, approximately half the interior designers out there are independent. This means salaries are also highly variable. According to the Bureau, the bell curve that covers half the profession ranges from $34,000 to $62,000. It can go as low as $27,000, although it is also true the designer with an exclusive list and an incredible reputation is quite capable of earning over the $100,000 range.
At the same time, as this is a freelance occupation, when it comes to such things as health insurance and retirement programs, the designer is on his or her own. There are times when the designer will be part of a firm or company that will provide benefits, however, this is not usually the norm.