Being an interior designer can seem like a dream job; you get to spend your days making people’s spaces beautiful and playing with color swatches and furniture samples. But like any artistic field, it can seem impossible to break into the industry. How do you get a job as an interior designer if you have little or no experience?
It will take a lot of work and diligence, but getting your start designing isn’t impossible. There are some important skills you can develop and the first steps you can take towards landing your dream job. Read on to learn more.
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The first thing you should know when you get ready to launch your career as an interior designer is what that career will actually look like. Will you be able to get a job, and how much money will you make once you do have a job? These are important factors to consider before you start applying to colleges or looking into these degrees.
Now is a good time to get into interior design—the field is expected to grow by about 2,000 jobs in 2019. But getting those jobs may be a challenge; the rate of job openings this year is expected to be below average. You can expect to make about $54,000 as an interior designer, and up to $68,000 at a maximum.
1. Develop Your Artistic Style
One of the best things you can do if you want to be an interior designer is to develop your artistic style. We know you may not be producing masterpiece paintings as a designer, but you do need to have a solid grasp of basic artistic principles. This includes color theory, composition, movement, and, yes, some drawing talent.
Take as many art classes as you can, and learn as much as you can about color theory and composition in particular. Spend time arranging various swatches of color and different patterns to create different moods. And spend some time practicing drawing room layouts; it’s a skill that will serve you well when you’re creating a space for a client.
2. Focus on the Details
When it comes to interior design, the devil is in the details. Anyone can arrange a couch and an armchair in a living room, but what about the coffee table arrangement that sets off the room perfectly. An interior designer should be able to put together all the small things that make a room seem polished and professional.
Focus on the details of rooms you see that you like the design of. What have they done in terms of coffee table and mantle arrangements? Notice, too, what’s missing from the scene – there should be no unnecessary clutter or items that don’t serve to create the feel you want in the room.
3. Work on Creative Problem Solving
A big part of interior design is learning how to create something amazing with the tools you have. Not every space will be ideal for the mood you want to create, and not every budget will offer the flexibility you might want. If a client wants a tall, narrow room to feel open and airy, how do you make that happen for them?
The answer is to become excellent at creative problem solving; it’s a skill you’ll use every day on the job. Pay attention to creative ways designers you admire have tackled problematic spaces in their designs. Look at rooms you’d like to redesign and think about different ways you could make them look their best.
4. Communicate Clearly
An interior designer also has to be able to communicate clearly with their clients. Clients don’t always know exactly what it is they want, and they may not have a clear picture of your vision for the room. You need to be able to bring them into the vision you have for space and answer any questions they have.
Again, the best thing you can do to train yourself for this is to listen to your role models. How do designers you admire talk about their designs and their process in interviews? Practice how you would talk to a potential client about your plans and vision for space.
5. Start by Assisting
It’s hard to find a job that will hire you on as a designer straightaway. You’re going to run into the usual employment conundrum: you need the experience to get a job, and you need a job to get experience. The best way to do this is to work as an assistant to an interior designer for a while when you start.
Try to apply for every interior design assistant job you can find when you get ready to start. If possible, find someone who will help mentor you and teach you what you need to know. This is an excellent opportunity to learn on the job, so pay attention and absorb everything you can.
How to Find a Job
So where does one find one of these elusive designer’s assistant jobs, short of going around to design firms and handing out resumes? One great way is to see if you can set up a job shadowing; call around to local designers and ask if they would be okay with you shadowing them for a day. This will give you some great insight into the daily life of an interior designer, and it will allow them to get to know you.
After your job shadowing, be sure to follow up with a thank you note for their assistance. You can use that as an opportunity to mention that you’ll be looking for an internship or assistant job soon if they have any openings. All of this should leave a positive impression on them and put your application on the top of a pile if a position does open up.
Start a Career as an Interior Designer
Becoming an interior designer may be a challenge, but it’s far from impossible. Work hard on developing your skills and making good connections, and you’ll find yourself in your dream job someday soon.
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