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Interior Designer vs. Interior Decorator
What’s the difference, you ask? Consider this…if you’re interested in working primarily with the surface elements of interior decoration, you may want to pursue a career as an interior decorator instead of a designer.
Many people don’t understand the distinction between an interior decorator and an interior designer. An interior decorator works primarily within the structural elements as they currently exist and brings together a pleasing visual configuration of furnishings, finishes and lighting within that environment. A decorator needs no formal training. However, many decorators boost their career possibilities and income potential by taking interior decorating or design course work while staying in tune with evolving style trends.
An interior designer, on the other hand, does all of that and more. A designer also considers the structural and spatial features as changeable elements that can be manipulated to better meet the needs of the client. Designers might add or remove walls, for example – changing the shape and flow of interior space altogether. This is why preparing for an interior designer career includes training in building codes,
design software and an understanding of architectural drawings among many other things.
An interior design career that specializes in a particular area of design is becoming more common. You can focus on commercial interior design instead of residential interior design, for instance. Or take it even further, right down to the specific room if you’d like. If kitchen design gets you excited, for example, you could focus on that room alone in your career emphasis
While loving what you do is an extremely important element of any career, let's face it...how much money you can make is an important tidbit of knowledge. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), an interior designer in the United States could expect to make just over $42,000 annually (median figure) in 2006. Of course, your interior design salary will vary significantly depending on experience and other factors. As an inexperienced designer you could start out with a much lower salary. A highly experienced pro at a prestigious design firm, on the other hand, might command a six figure income.
The outlook is bright for talented designers. Interior design opportunities are expected to grow faster than average in the years ahead.
If you’re serious about an interior design career, getting a degree in interior design while you build a portfolio is a good career start. It should quality you for an entry level position within an interior design or architectural firm – probably in an apprenticeship type of scenario. Becoming an independent designer can take time. You will likely need to build your level of experience by working first with a more experienced designer. Professional licensure or certification is something you will also want to pursue for an increased level of credibility. This may even be required by your state.
Getting an interior design degree is very important for ultimate success in an interior design career. For more information on an interior design degree at a traditional campus, check out my
interior design schools page.
If attending a campus-style interior design school is not practical for you at the moment, there is still a great option available. Online design courses!
I have personally experienced the benefits of an online interior design program through the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. It was great! For details on my experience with The Art Institute and why an online interior design program might be perfect for you, check out my
online interior design school page.
Whether you choose a campus or online education, a degree is a critical component of a successful interior design career. After you receive the information you have requested from various schools, evaluate it carefully and then determine which program best fits your long term goals.