QUESTION: I am contemplating going back to school to earn a degree in interior design. What should I expect, and how will the education benefit my already established new decorating business?
SOLUTION:First, you should be aware that there is a difference between an interior decorator and an interior designer. The interior decorator concentrates on surface qualities such as paint, wallpaper, window coverings, carpet, furniture selection and accessories.
The remainder of this column will speak about interior designers, but in either case I would encourage you to take as many courses as you can, as every little bit of education is of the utmost importance!
INTERIOR DESIGNER FACT SHEET:
• A professional interior designer is one who is qualified by education and experience to identify, research and creatively solve problems relative to the function and quality of an individual’s interior environment.
In some states, interior designers must be licensed. To meet the licensing requirement they might have to show they have completed a course of study, pass an examination, or simply register and pay a fee. They might need to show they are keeping up with research and laws pertaining to their career choice by attending accredited continuing education seminars or courses.
Students who pursue a career in interior design will expect to take courses in aesthetic awareness, visual communication and technical skills that enable them to successfully complete studio projects in residential and commercial interiors in many different areas. Students learn how to approach a design problem through a methodology that includes data gathering, product specification, identifying details, contractual documents and design business procedures.
• Career opportunities: The main career paths for interior design are: residential, commercial, specialized design and numerous sales opportunities.
Individual opportunities vary from entry-level positions, which can expect salaries of $35,000 to $50,000, and positions involving commission, which typically report higher earnings than those on salary.
Intermediate and advanced levels in the field could lead to starting salaries of $50,000 and above, depending on experience and education.
• Curricular Opportunities (CO): As students enter a program in interior design, they are encouraged to become involved in professional organizations such as the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), www.asid.org; International Interior Design Association (IIDA), www.iida.org; and Interior Design Society (IDS), www.interiordesignsociety.org; and other similar groups of professionals. Internship opportunities at design firms while still in school also enhance the educational experience.
Let’s take a moment and think of our favorite restaurant and why we like it (besides the food!). Who do you think made it possible? A specialized interior designer who possesses those specific qualities to design restaurants. This is just one area of interior design.
Let’s think again . . . this time of our favorite television program. Someone is creating the space and designing the set in which that program is being filmed. Hence, set designer.
How about our favorite hotel . . . hospitality designer.
Our favorite historic building . . . preservation designer.
Or museum . . . architects and interior designers work in harmony to create a specialized space.
And the list goes on and on!
Editor’s note: This is a continuing series of articles written by Sharon L. Anderson that will answer some of the many questions we receive at Draperies & Window Coverings as well as questions Anderson has encountered in her own business. If you have a question you would like Anderson to address, please send it to:
c/o Draperies & Window Coverings
1724 E. Grand Ave.
Lindenhurst, IL 60046
Fax: (847) 356-9013
Sharon L. Anderson has more than 20 years experience in the residential and commercial areas of interior design. She is currently a faculty member at two Southern California colleges. Anderson has been featured in numerous books and publications.