Becoming an Interior Designer: A Step-by-Step Guide to Pursuing a Career in Interior Design

Think Interior
6 min readMar 6, 2023

If you have a passion for creating beautiful, functional spaces, a career in interior design may be for you. Interior designers work in various settings, from residential to commercial, and help clients transform their spaces into something that fits their needs and style.

You can learn about becoming an interior designer through an interior design course. Such courses typically cover the fundamentals of interior design, including design principles, color theory, space planning, materials and finishes, and drafting and rendering. Here is a step-by-step guide to pursuing a career in interior design:

Get a Formal Education

While becoming an interior designer without a degree is possible, having a formal education can increase your job prospects and help you stand out from other candidates. Look for interior design programs at accredited universities, community colleges, or technical schools. Getting a formal education in interior design is a crucial step toward becoming a successful interior designer. Most interior design firms and clients prefer to work with designers who have completed some form of design education, such as a degree, diploma, or certificate program. Formal education provides you with the fundamental knowledge and technical skills required to succeed in this field. Interior design programs typically cover space planning, color theory, furniture design, lighting design, and sustainability. You can pursue a degree in interior design from a four-year university or opt for a two-year diploma or certificate program. An accredited program is essential to ensure you receive a high-quality education and potential employers recognize your degree or diploma.

Develop a Portfolio

A portfolio is a collection of your best work and is essential when applying for jobs or clients. Include a variety of projects, such as residential, commercial, and hospitality spaces, to showcase your versatility. Developing a portfolio is an essential step toward becoming a successful interior designer. It is a collection of your best work that showcases your skills, creativity, and design style to potential clients and employers. Your portfolio can include projects you completed during your studies, internships, or freelance work. The portfolio can be physical or digital, and it should reflect your individuality and unique approach to design. Regularly updating your portfolio is crucial as you gain experience and complete new projects. A well-organized and visually appealing portfolio can help you position out in a modest job market and attract potential clients. Additionally, a strong portfolio can demonstrate your versatility and ability to adapt to different design styles, which is essential in the diverse world of interior design.

Build a network

Attend industry events and join professional organizations to meet other designers, architects, and contractors. Networking can help you find work chances, learn about industry trends, and build relationships with potential clients. Building a network is an essential step for becoming a successful interior designer. Networking allows you to meet people in the industry, gain new perspectives, and stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies. Start by attending industry events and conferences to meet other designers, suppliers, and potential clients. Consider joining a professional association or organization for interior designers, as this can provide networking opportunities, resources, and support for your career. Use social media to connect with other designers and industry professionals and showcase your work to a broader audience. Building a solid network can help you find new clients, partnerships, and opportunities to grow your business.

Consider Certification

While certification is not required to become an interior designer, it can demonstrate your expertise and professionalism to clients and employers. The national council offers a certification exam that tests knowledge of building codes, sustainability, and other essential design principles. Consider certification is another crucial step in becoming an interior designer. While certification is not mandatory, it can increase your credibility and marketability as a professional in the industry. Organizations like the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) offer certification exams that test designers’ knowledge and skills in building systems, codes and regulations, and design principles. Some states also require certification or licensure for interior designers to practice professionally. By obtaining certification, you can show potential clients or employers that you have met a certain level of competency and professionalism in the field.

Network and Gain Experience

Attend industry events, join professional organizations, and seek opportunities to gain experience through internships or entry-level positions. Building a solid network and gaining experience can open gates to new prospects and help you establish yourself as a reputable interior designer. Many employers prefer candidates with practical experience, so look for internships or part-time positions at design firms, furniture stores, or home improvement centers. You can also volunteer your design services for local charities or community organizations. Networking and gaining experience are crucial steps in becoming a successful interior designer. Attending industry events, joining professional organizations, and connecting with other designers and industry professionals is essential. It will help you stay up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies and provide opportunities for collaboration and referrals.

In addition, gaining hands-on experience is essential to develop your skills and portfolio. Consider internships, apprenticeships, or entry-level positions at design firms or related industries such as architecture or construction. It will give you valuable experience and insights into the industry and provide opportunities to work on real projects and build your portfolio.

Build Your Brand

Once you have a portfolio and some experience, start building your brand. It includes developing a unique style, creating a website and social media presence, and establishing yourself as an expert in your field. Building your brand is a crucial step in becoming a successful interior designer. It involves creating a unique identity that reflects your skills, style, and personality. You can start by creating a website or social media presence that showcases your portfolio and shares your design philosophy. It will help you establish yourself as a professional in the industry and attract potential clients and employers.

You can also consider attending design events and networking with other professionals in the field. It will help you build relationships, learn about new trends and techniques, and potentially open up opportunities for collaboration or job offers.

Consider Getting Certified

While certification is not required to work as an interior designer, it can demonstrate your expertise and commitment to the field. Certification options include the national council exam. Getting certified is a great way to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in interior design. Several organizations offer certification programs, such as the national council in the United States. To become certified, you must typically meet specific education and experience requirements and pass an exam.

While certification is not always required to work as an interior designer, it can be a valuable asset in the job market. Many employers prefer to hire certified designers, as it indicates they have a certain level of knowledge and competence. Additionally, certification can help you stand out among other designers and give you a competitive edge when bidding on projects.

Stay Up to Date With Industry Trends

Interior design is an ever-evolving field, so staying current with industry trends and advancements is essential. Attend conferences, read design publications, and continue to expand your knowledge and skills to stay competitive in the field. As with any profession, staying current with industry trends and innovations is essential. New materials, technologies, and styles are constantly emerging in interior design. Attending industry events like trade shows and conferences can provide valuable opportunities to learn about these developments and network with other professionals. Reading design publications and blogs, following influencers and thought leaders on social media, and taking continuing education courses can help you stay updated with the latest trends and best practices. By staying current with industry trends, you can ensure that your work remains relevant and appealing to clients and that you continue to grow and evolve as a designer.


Becoming an interior designer involves gaining education, experience, and networking. Developing a portfolio and considering certification can also help you stand out in the industry. With dedication and hard work, a career in interior design can be a fulfilling and creative pursuit. Additionally, staying up-to-date with the latest design trends and considering professional certification can enhance credibility and reputation. With dedication, hard work, and a commitment to learning and growth, anyone can pursue a career in interior design and create beautiful, functional spaces that inspire and transform people’s lives.

Some computer aided interior design courses may also offer modules or classes on professional development, such as building a portfolio, networking, and marketing your brand. Researching and choosing a reputable interior design course or program that aligns with your career goals and aspirations is essential.



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