Careers in Interior design: From Amateur to Pro|Turn Your Interior Design Hobby into a Career

Turn Your Interior Design Hobby into a Career

If you are particularly gifted at interior design or practice home design as a hobby, don't let your skills go to waste. There are buildings all over the world that need people who love to plan and decorate interior spaces.

The Road to an Interior Design Career
As an industry, interior design encompasses many disciplines and skills that require attention to detail and a well-developed aesthetic sense. Interior designers are involved in designing any space that is occupied by humans, from airports to bedrooms. This smorgasbord of career options leaves a great deal of room for specialization.

The majority of professional interior designers gain licensure through a combination of education and experience. Interior design programs typically take two to three years to complete. There are 145 art schools that offer bachelor's degrees in interior design and are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, including many online degree programs. Graduates of these schools are usually qualified for employment as entry-level professionals with interior design companies.

Working as an Interior Designer
The first job that most art school graduates obtain is an apprenticeship, which lasts one to two years and culminates in an interior designer licensing exam. About half of U.S. states require a license to work as a certified interior designer.

Before taking the test, you must have at least six years of combined education and entry-level experience in interior design. Once you are licensed as an interior designer, job opportunities are plentiful. In 2006, the median annual salary for an interior designer was $42,260.

Work for Yourself
One out of every four interior designers is self-employed, and many interior designers who work for design companies do freelance work on the side. This aspect of the design field appeals to many professionals who prefer to work independently and on their own terms.

An excellent way to start your own interior design business is to find a particular niche as a designer and excel at it. For example, an up and coming sub-field in interior design is environmental, or green, interior decorating. Green designers use chemical-free, environmentally friendly materials and attempt to maximize energy efficiency within homes and businesses.

Taking Advantage of Your Design Skills
If you practice interior design as a hobby or think you might have a knack for it, there are many ways to pursue your interest. By taking classes at an art school or simply offering to help design your friend's new home, you can gain valuable experience that may lead to a career in interior design.

About the Author
John Tuthill is a biologist at the University of Montana. His previous experience includes laboratory work at the University of Washington and Duke University, studying mechanisms of vision and biological imaging.

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