How To Become An Interior Designer

Interior design is all about the creation of functional, appealing spaces – be that comfortable homes, functional offices or beautiful public buildings. In order to achieve optimal results, an Interior Designer works hard to anticipate people’s needs, employing a broad range of artistic, technical and business skills.

If you have a keen interest in interior design and architecture, enjoy staying up to date with new trends and relish the challenge of revamping interiors, then this could be the career for you.

What does an Interior Designer do?

Interior Designers transform internal spaces, making architectural and aesthetic improvements according to specific client needs and budgets. If you join this profession, you’ll work with architects, building contractors, tradesmen, decorators and retailers, improving existing interiors as well as designing new spaces.

Design work can be divided into two areas: residential and commercial. A residential Interior Designer will work in private homes and new builds, either in single rooms or on whole house projects. The commercial sector is vast and highly specialised and includes:

  • Offices and industrial units
  • Retail and public buildings
  • Historic buildings
  • Luxury boats and aircraft

Interior Designers have a wide remit, dealing with architectural elements – studying floor plans and blueprints – as well as planning colour schemes, developing lighting plans and selecting furniture and soft fittings.  They will also usually recommend people to carry out the work, so it’s important to develop good working relationships with tradesmen such as painters and decorators, builders and upholsterers. If you choose this profession, you’ll need to keep up to date with the latest innovations and trends, attending trade fairs and exhibitions to gather information.

This career choice isn’t just having a good eye for creating beautiful, inviting spaces; good business acumen is also a must. Interior Designers have to coordinate complex projects – developing detailed specifications, supervising coworkers and making sure the project comes in on time and within budget.

In fact, this role is as much about project management as it is about the design elements. A good Interior Designer will not only take the stress and strain out of a design project but will also offer a good return on investment.

What do Interior Designers typically earn?

The average salary for an Interior Designer is £24,775 per year. However, salaries vary widely depending on location, how your reputation builds and the contacts you make. As a general guide, the following salary scale applies:


  • Starting salary for Junior Designers: £18,000 to £23,000
  • Experienced Designers: £25,000 to £40,000
  • Highly Experienced Designers: £45,000+
  • Creative Director: £75,000+


With experience, designers can also easily move into freelance roles, setting their own rates and hours. Fees for self-employed designers typically start at around £25 per hour.

How do I get started as an Interior Designer?

In order to secure a position as an Interior Designer, you’ll usually have to study for a degree in Interior Design. A range of courses are on offer across the UK. Graduates can also move into interior design roles having studied related subjects, including:

  • Graphic design
  • Fashion and textiles
  • Architecture
  • Fine art

Make sure any qualifications are recognised by the British Institute of Interior Design, this is the professional standard required by recruiters and clients. It’s also possible to study for membership of the Chartered Society of Designers.

HND, BTEC and National Certificate qualifications are also available, but these would result in career entry at a junior level, as a Design Assistant. Some design consultancies offer trainee positions, but these positions are few and far between and competition is fierce.

As is the case for all design jobs, it’s important to complement your CV with a portfolio of your work to show to potential employers. It’s also all about who you know, so it’s imperative to build a network of contacts.