Make Dollars Designing: How to Become An Interior Decorator

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Published
Oct 5, 2018

Oct 5, 2018 • by Rebecca Smith

Are you one of those people who walk into a room and immediately start to notice the finer details?

The wood trim; the creamy yellow paint; the antique end tables; the velvet throws.

If you've landed on this article, chances are you're the creative type. You like the way a room can come together - or you can rejuvenate it, turn it into something different. Change its vibe.

Interior decorating is an undeniable, transformative skill. And although it sounds like interior design, it's not exactly the same. We'll explain the difference.

Are you wondering how to become an interior decorator?

We have the answers. Here's what you need to do.

1. Know the Job

What does interior decorating entail, exactly?

We mentioned earlier that it's not the same as interior design.

Those with a formal education can get considered for interior design jobs. These usually require a Bachelor's degree. These jobs deal with different factors that need extensive schooling.

Decorating is similar, but different. You'll be assisting homeowners, store owners - and other commercial and residential associates - with decorating a space. You'll need a warm, inviting, and imaginative personality.

Depending on what your style is, you'll be working with a broad range of people and visions. Your goal is to create something that achieves the client's wishes. You'll need to do so while being practical, budget-conscious, and well-timed.

You may work freelance or with a design company. A great way to start with either of these options is within your local community.

Not only local designers or clients, but suppliers, too. It wouldn't hurt to know welders, painters, owners of craft stores, certified electricians. Any and everything that has to do with structure, design, and build-up.

As you can see, interior decorating is more than decorating. It's working with people on a daily basis and being successful at achieving a specific goal.

2. Get Your CID

A Bachelor's is not required for many interior decorating jobs. But it never hurts to prove your dedication to the craft.

Employers will be more inclined to hire someone who has taken the time to learn more.

You can consider becoming a CID, or Certified Interior Decorator. This certifies that you have completed a program that specializes in interior decorating.

You'll cover topics within the scope of decorating. You'll learn what it takes to translate your imagination into something that works well in a room. You'll study examples of good and bad decorating.

Course completion will vary based on your schedule, lasting anywhere from months to a couple years.

If you pass the CID exam, you'll be eligible for CIDI.

This is being Certified Interior Decorator International-approved. This is like the stamp of officiality. Members periodically renew licenses - proving that they are up to trend, code, and industry.

Another way to do this is by getting IDS-certified. The Interior Design Society stays dedicated to quality residential service. They are an accredited, national society.

And finally, Computer-aided design, or CAD. Knowing the ins and outs of CAD will do wonders for you and your clients.

CAD can make both 2D and 3D drawings/models. This comes in handy when trying to place furniture; measuring; showing your client exactly how you mean to arrange something. The software gets utilized by designers, architects, engineers, and more.

3. Do Some (More) Work

Have you already done some decorating?

That's great. Now do some more. And don't hesitate to do work for free when you can.

At this stage in your career, getting any and all work will help build a portfolio. After all, your job is visual. You need visual proof of the skill set you have.

Do work for friends, family, your current place of employment. Any jobs big and small. Even offering your consultation will help you build a list of references.

4. Make a Portfolio

Turn those references and photographs into a portfolio.

You need a presence outside of yourself. Something to help you advertise and achieve more work. This can be something tangible that you hand out - like an awesome business card - or a website.

In fact, having a website is paramount in displaying your skill. The majority of consumers start their search for products or services online.

An interior decorator needs to have a place to direct potential clients. Something that can get accessed on your phone when you happen to run into someone who needs a decorator. A name that will come up in a local search.

Some Quick Interior Decorator Statistics

Before we send you off to your first job, let's learn a little more about the specifics of the career.

Do you think you can you marry the idea of practicality with aesthetic? Can you make a room functional while also being modern and comfortable?

Then this is the job for you. And you'll get paid for it. A 2017 study found that the average interior decorator salary is $39,305.

And that's all without a degree. Consider the fact that a certification will only increase your salary and credibility.

After all, the hourly wage can range from $11-63 per hour. This is great news for you: lots of room to grow and earn.

Now You Know How to Become an Interior Decorator

So it's time to get your name out there.

Make a good reputation for yourself. Dress professionally, show up on time, keep your word. And in no time, you'll be well on your way to establishing a good name in the industry.

Now you know how to become an interior decorator. Want to start your own business with that talent?

Check out our list of 10 pitfalls entrepreneurs face, so you can avoid them.