How to Become an Interior Designer Without a Degree

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Learn how to become an interior designer without a degree so that you can design spaces that wow the crowd (and get paid for your talent).

Nothing makes a house feel more like home than having the interior designed in a comforting, spacious way. This goes for making an office building feel more inviting or restaurants designed with functionality in mind. That is what an interior designer does.

You have likely seen the buzz around flipping houses, DIY inside of homes, and all the celebrities who have come about through the HGTV channel. It is exciting to dream up new plans for your current space or come into a brand new space with a blank canvas ready for your touch.

If you have considered a job in interior design, this could be the perfect time for you to try it out. You can consider options like how to become an interior designer with no experience and start your career from scratch. Build your new career with your own hands.

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What is an Interior Designer?

A question that gets asked often is, “What do interior designers do?” An interior designer is someone who is tasked with filling the inside of a home or building with a unique design. It takes more than just throwing in some chairs and pictures, however.

There is an art to designing a space that incorporates using measurements according to a client’s wishes. It also involves going for a color palette and theme that the client wants. It’s about being present in the space and putting together a masterpiece that really brings that space to life.

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Does an Interior Designer Require a License?

In most states, a license is not required to become an interior designer. However, there are some states that are the exception to this rule and will require some registration before you can become an unsupervised interior designer. Always check with your local licensing offices to ensure you are compliant with your state’s specific regulations.

Other Interior Designer Requirements and Qualifications

Interior design requires patience, good listening skills, and the ability to bring ideas to life. Organization skills are of the utmost importance as you will want to be professional in every step of the process with your client. You will also need some sort of sketching capability to draw out plans and the ability to handle constructive criticism or feedback.

Lastly, you will want to know about the latest trends in design or at least know how to research them. Your clients will want your opinion on trends so you will need to be up-to-date.

Interior Designer Salary or Pay Expectations

According to Indeed, the national average annual base salary of interior designers in the U.S. is $60,980. For designers who have less than one year of experience, the salary is just over $51,000. For designers with 10 or more years of experience, the salary is nearly $80,000.

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How to Become an Interior Designer in 5 Simple Steps

Interior designer inspecting her plans

Take a look at the following steps to become an interior designer without a degree. Time and patience will be your friend as you complete each step.

1. Take an Online Interior Design Course

You will want to start off on the right foot when it comes to learning about becoming an interior designer. While it might seem easy to start an interior designing career overnight, it truly is beneficial to you to learn about the role and expectations first.

You can become an interior designer online by taking a course through Masterclass. Follow along as award-winning designer, Kelly Wearstler, teaches the techniques you need to design spaces with beauty, creativity, and inspiration in mind.

The course will go into finding design inspiration, experimenting with color and material, discovering textures, and more. Kelly Wearstler has had a hand in influencing designer hotels. Her experience and teaching will help you design with confidence.

2. Work With an Experienced Designer

The best way to gain experience in interior design is to work alongside someone who has experience. Let their in-person lessons guide you as you learn from someone who has performed the tasks, completed projects, and is successfully holding a position in the industry. Think of it as an internship or apprenticeship; you will get to work and learn at the same time.

Related: How to Become a Property Manager

3. Build Your Network

Make connections with people in your area who could be a resource for you when you go out on your own. Consider manufacturers, contractors, real estate agents, and other home improvement types of businesses. You will want all the connections you can get as you start taking on your own projects.

In addition, the people you connect with can help refer clients to you. Don’t forget to thank them often with a treat or gift during holidays or at the end of your project to let them know you appreciate their referral. You can even refer new clients back to your network of contacts so that you can build mutually beneficial relationships.

4. Market Your Services

In order to get clients, you have to market your services for people to find you. Consider building social media accounts to advertise the kind of work you do and share tips. Make brochures to hand out to local companies. Offer free consultations to get people to meet and connect with you. This may entice them to book a project with you.

Instagram and Pinterest are visual-driven platforms where people go to get interior design inspiration. Prove your expertise by growing accounts that show your talent. Take pictures of your work and help inspire others to follow in your footsteps. In time, people will reach out to you for consultations and hands-on help.

Don’t forget to send client appreciation gifts a couple of times per year with your business card attached to them. Also, consider marketing at local fairs and events where you can hand out your business cards.

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5. Ask for Testimonials

The best compliment an interior designer can get is that of a positive review. Ask your clients to post reviews on your social media pages so that you can collect a stream of testimonials. Testimonials are social proof that your services are worth the investment.

If you have enough positive reviews, this shows that others had a positive experience working with you. This is the same concept as if you were buying a new product online. You would check the reviews first to consider if it is worth the purchase.

Questions New Interior Designers Are Asking

Take an even deeper look into what it takes to become an interior designer without a degree. See what new designers are asking and make sure you have a full idea of what this new career will mean for you.

Can I make 6 figures as an interior designer?

The quick answer here is yes. You definitely can make six figures as an interior designer. However, this won’t necessarily happen as a new designer. This income will likely happen after years of experience in the industry.

Even then, some experienced designers don’t quite make six figures. You will have to determine how many hours you are willing to work and how many clients you want to take on in order to meet your income goal.

Is interior design a good career?

This is subjective for each person. You will have to ask yourself what a good career means for you: is it time freedom, the ability to be your own boss, income stability, etc? Once you can answer those types of questions, you can then determine if interior design is a good career for you.

Is being an interior designer hard?

This answer will vary based on what you deem is hard. Sure, being an interior designer will take work. It’s not something you can do while you sleep. You will also have to tolerate clients and their input, which could be challenging at times. But this career could be worth it if you are willing to learn from any challenge you may face.

Are interior designers happy?

According to Career Explorer, interior designers rate in the top 30% of careers in terms of happiness. Over 60% of interior designers are happy with their salary, find their work environment enjoyable, and find their job purposeful.

Can anyone become an interior designer?

An interior designer’s job is not for everyone. If someone wanted to become an interior designer without a degree, it would be a journey to get there, but it is not impossible. You could definitely do it if you follow the steps listed in this post.

Who Should Become an Interior Designer?

An interior designer is someone who can see outside of the box and imagine possibilities in spaces that no one else is thinking about. A designer listens closely to their client’s desires and delivers above and beyond. Anyone who wants to use their creativity in a new way and work with others could potentially become an interior designer without a degree.

If you are considering a career change, look at how to become an online interior designer so that you can fit your lifestyle around your new job. It might be best to start out with in-person projects until you feel comfortable designing spaces. However, it is an option to do virtual designing.

Interior design is a popular and fulfilling career. Life is too short to settle for a job you don’t like. Become an interior designer and live a life that brings you joy.

Related: How to Become a Graphic Designer


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