Interior Designer or Interior Decorator
People often romanticize the work of an interior designer with the misleading notion that the work consists solely of picking out colors and fabrics for a room. These duties are a bit closer to interior decorating. But an interior designer has an array of responsibilities that include both those of an interior decorator as well as more complex jobs. They include light management, space planning, color coordination, providing estimates that fit a budget, and subcontracting the fabrication and installation of flooring, light fixtures, draperies, paint and wall coverings, furniture, and so on.
An increasing number of designers even take part in the architectural aspect of building of a home, so designers need to be able to read blueprints and possess a knowledge of building codes. It is desirable for an interior designer to have experience with CAD software and home design software in order to prepare blueprints or presentations for clients.
Training and Entry Requirements
Up until recent years there existed no accredited education programs for budding interior designers in the United States. Now there are a number of institutions with interior design programs accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design and the Council for Interior Design Accreditation. These programs typically run from two to five years and most often lead to an associate, bachelor's, or master's degree. Coursework for these programs may include CAD, furniture design, color and fabrics, space planning, ergonomics, architectural courses, and even psychology.
Most interior designers opt to enter an apprenticeship after a formal education. During this time recent graduates work under the supervision of an experienced designer. This gives designers a chance to build a portfolio and learn the nooks and crannies of the business before going solo.
Interior designers can also choose to become certified by passing an exam administered by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ). One must have both a formal education and work experience to even sit for the NCIDQ exam. The NCIDQ has defined six various routes that can be found on their site. Note that this certificate is a requirement for professional registration in 26 of the U.S. states and Canadian provinces that require licensing. You must also possess an NCIDQ certificate if you wish to become a member of the American Society of Interior Designers, International Interior Design Association, and other similar organizations.
Work Environment and Conditions
Interior designers most often work as a part of a larger design team or on a freelance basis, although some find work in architectural firms or home-furnishing stores. Clients range from individuals wanting to renovate their homes to corporations planning to open a new business location.
Building relationships with clients is an absolute must for any designer regardless of where he or she works since the main goal of an interior designer is to identify the wants and needs of a client and integrate them into both the aesthetics and function of the interior. This can lead to working on weekends or long hours in order to fit a client's schedule.
Interior designers tend to travel from place to place quite a bit since much of their time is spent on-site discussing plans with clients and overseeing contracted work. But interior designers actually spend the majority of their time in the office.
Note that designers often work under stress since they constantly juggle deadlines and budgets.