An Interior Designer Talks About Her Chosen Career
Find out what your career will entail in its early stages from a design professional.
Anna, an interior designer, loves what she does. She graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design. Now, she works at a major Atlanta design firm with four other interior designers. Her work includes many private residences and homes in the Southern states as well as in Canada.
Anna says there is no "typical day" in the life of an interior designer. What she does depends on what phase her current projects are in. "I usually get in around 9:30 a.m. and follow up on all aspects of my projects. Usually I'm juggling several clients at a time." On some days, she goes to the Atlanta Decorative Art Center where she shops for furniture, fabrics and artwork for her clients. She also has a design assistant that she can assign tasks to.
Advice for Aspiring Interior Designers
Aspiring interior designers should "definitely find internships," Anna advises. "You've got to be aggressive," she says. And she speaks from experience. While pursuing her bachelor's degree, she did two internships. One was with an architectural firm in Atlanta, and one was with an interior designer in Tallahassee.
"You learn so much outside of school," she explains. As an interior design intern, Anna was able to do lots of hands-on work, picking finishes and helping with residential shopping. It's important also, she believes, "to choose internships in areas of interior design that interest you… whether that's residential, commercial or architectural-oriented interior design." She also suggests joining professional organizations and attending conferences as a student. "I know the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) has a student chapter, and that can be very beneficial."
Working with Clients
"My work does require quite a bit of travel," she says, "I have many clients in West Palm Beach, Orlando, North Carolina and Canada." On an average day, she spends 50 percent of her time outside of the office. She finds herself traveling outside of Atlanta at least a couple times every few months.
Not only do interior designers have to travel, but they've got to dress the part. On most days, designers must dress well—"as businesslike as possible." It's important to look presentable. A career in interior design demands a people-oriented, people-friendly personality. "You've got to put yourself out there." You've got to work well with your clients, and your clients have to like and respect you.
A beginning interior designer shouldn't expect to have the most glamorous job, Anna warns. "It's a process and you have to work your way up." Anna's firm hires new interior design graduates as assistants. The NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Qualification) certification exam, for which designers are eligible after six years of college-level education and work experience as an interior designer, can be a career booster.
Although the financial rewards are not immediate in interior design, there are many non-monetary rewards you can enjoy while working your way up the pay-scale. It's an active job that requires energy, passion and artistic skill. As an interior designer, you'll get to meet people, work with them, and help design environments that best meet their needs—all while creating beautiful spaces.