The number of interior design job openings is expected to grow over the next decade as portions of the workforce leave the field. This leaves plenty of opportunities for up-and-coming design professionals to fill these openings. Many of these gaps are expected to be filled by certified interior designers and interior design assistants. Certified interior designers (CIDs) plan and execute design concepts, while interior design assistants generally offer a complementary role by providing creative, technical, and clerical support. CIDs and interior design assistants can work in general interior and spatial design or in more specialized interior design careers.
Types of Interior Design Jobs
Interior design assistant
An interior design assistant is becoming a popular entry point into the interior design industry. These professionals aid CIDs in their day-to-day duties. Interior design assistants can play a supportive role by assisting with administrative, clerical, and design-oriented tasks. Client communication, record keeping, vendor coordination, and operation of computer-aided drafting programs are all in a day’s work. Individuals in this field can also help share the design workload and act as an extra set of eyes on projects. Factors that impact job duties and responsibilities include the type of interior design (residential or commercial), state regulations defining the role, and an employer’s needs.
In many states, only a two-year college degree is required. However, interior design assistants take many of the core classes offered to student CIDs. These often include many technical and creative courses as well as the ability to earn job experience while in school. In established design programs, students receive instruction from expert design professors eager to pass on their knowledge.
Interior design consultant
Certified interior designers are highly qualified for roles as interior design consultants. These individuals work with either residential or commercial clients to plan aesthetic and spatial layouts by recommending color schemes, furnishings, lighting, and other decorative accessories. CIDs will meet with clients and review the space to get a feel for individual preferences and styles. Once a layout and concept are approved, CIDs will often work with a select vendor of their choosing to complete the actual installation. Many CIDs are self-employed or provide freelance services, though some designers work full-time for an employer.
CIDs must acquire a bachelor of fine arts degree, which generally takes four years to complete. Upon graduation, these individuals must also pass The National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam to gain proper licensure to professionally practice. Additionally, a practice analysis must be taken every five to seven years after the NCIDQ exam has been completed to renew this certification.
Color consultants use their expertise in color theory and color psychology to actualize a client’s color aesthetic. These individuals work with residential and commercial clients to coordinate an atmosphere that reflects their client’s desired outlook, evokes personality, or emits a particular energy. Color consultants, whether CIDs or interior design assistants, should know how to prepare color schemes and corresponding budgets. They may also have connections with painting businesses and other industry vendors to assist with the project.
Retail interior designer/visual merchandising
Retail interior designers apply their experience to commercial institutions including restaurants, individual stores, and shopping centers. This career track involves preparing store layouts that promote the company’s identity through various aesthetic choices. Retail interior designers may also handle a client’s visual merchandising needs, which includes creating product displays that support brand image while enticing customers. CIDs and interior design assistants working in this specialty must have a strong understanding of their client’s brand and target audience so they can successfully actualize a space that fosters the desired retail appeal and experience.
Production designers are responsible for creating sets and planning props for video productions, including commercials, television shows, and films. These designers work with directors, producers, scriptwriters, and technical crews to identify set expectations and execute the final design accordingly. It’s important that production designers also be present during location inspections and video shooting. Aside from creative decision-making, CIDs and interior design assistants working in this role require strong budgeting skills, exhibit clear communication, and understand tonality and scale.
Exhibition designers, sometimes called exhibit designers, arrange floor plans and seating, and integrate displays for events. Even lighting and temperature should factor into the final design scheme. From fashion shows and art galleries to trade shows and conferences, exhibition designers must be able to create a setting that drives interest or intrigue to their client’s event. CIDs and interior design assistants working in this interior design career should be well-versed in infrastructural design, enjoy collaboration, and be able to work within tight timeframes.