How to Become an Interior Designer without a Degree: Step-by-Step Guide

Are you looking for advice on how to become an interior without a degree?

Interior design can be a fulfilling career for a variety of reasons. For starters, it allows you to use your creativity to design functional and aesthetically-pleasing spaces. You also get to help clients realize their vision for their home or office, and see the project through from start to finish. And, as an added bonus, interior designers typically earn a comfortable salary.

Luckily, you don’t need a college degree to become an interior designer. In fact, recent data shows that almost one-third of professionals in the industry don’t have a bachelor’s degree or interior design degree.

While some jobs may require a bachelor’s degree, many others only require as little as completing online courses on learning websites like LinkedIn Learning and Skillshare.

So, if you’re interested in becoming an interior designer without spending time and money on a 4-year college education, here’s what you need to know about how to become an interior designer without a degree.

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What is an Interior Designer?

An interior designer does many things, but their main goal is to make a functional and aesthetically-pleasing space. This can be done in both residential and commercial settings.

Residential interior designers typically help clients design their homes. This can involve anything from choosing paint colors and furniture to planning the layout of a room. Commercial interior designers, on the other hand, work with businesses to design their office space. This includes things like choosing the right type of cubicles and desks for employees and picking out furniture for the conference room.

To illustrate more specifically, let’s say you’re hired by a bakery to renovate their customer seating area. As the interior designer, it would be your job to come up with a plan for the space. This would involve things like deciding how many tables and chairs to put in the area, what type of flooring to use, and where to place the cash register. Once you have a plan, you would then work with the bakery’s owner to make sure it meets their needs and budget.


Why Become an Interior Designer?

There are plenty of reasons to pursue an interior design career.

For starters, interior design is a creative field that allows you to express yourself. You get to play with colors, patterns, and shapes to create beautiful spaces for people to live and work in.

Plus, the interior design industry is an ever-changing field that requires you to constantly learn about new trends and innovations. This keeps things exciting and fresh, and allows you to be as creative as you want.

Interior design is also a career that lends itself to freelancing and building your own business, giving you the chance to set your own schedule and make your own decisions. Building your own interior design business could help you reach new financial heights.

And if you’re looking for a more traditional career, there are plenty of job opportunities available in various aspects of the interior design industry, from working with specific businesses to commercial spaces and residential homes.

Finally, interior design also provides a great opportunity for financial success. Man interior designers earn very well, especially if they specialize in certain types of spaces such as luxury homes or corporate offices. This can make it extremely lucrative to pursue an interior design career.

What Skills Do You Need to Become an Interior Designer?

Interior designing is not for the talentless. To be a successful interior designer, you need to have certain skills, where skill means both the ability to do something and the learned capacity to do it. Here are the essential skills needed to become a good interior designer:

  • Creativity. You won’t be a very good interior designer if you don’t have a creative eye. This means being able to see the potential in a space and come up with creative ways to make it more aesthetically pleasing. If you’re not sure if you have this skill, ask yourself: Do people often compliment your sense of style? Do you have an eye for detail? Do you enjoy rearranging your furniture or home décor? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you probably have the requisite creativity.
  • Communication. As an interior designer, you will be working with clients to help them realize their vision for a space. This means that you need to be able to effectively communicate with people. You should be able to listen to their needs and wants and then explain your ideas clearly. If you’re not a naturally gifted communicator, don’t worry. This is a skill that can be learned with practice. The more you communicate with people, the better you will become at it.
  • Organizational skills. A successful interior designer is an organized one. This means having the ability to keep track of all the different elements that go into designing a space. This includes things like furniture, paint colors, flooring, and more. If you’re not naturally organized, that’s okay. There are plenty of ways to get better at project management. One way is to create a system for tracking all the different elements of a project. This could be something as simple as creating a spreadsheet with all the information or using an app like Evernote to keep everything in one place.
  • Technical skills. In addition to the above skills, you will also need to have some basic technical skills. This includes things like being able to sketch out your designs, using design software, and creating budgets. If you’re not sure if you have the necessary technical skills, ask yourself: Can you use basic design software? Do you know how to create a floor plan? Are you able to make a realistic budget for a project? If you can answer yes to these questions, then you likely have the required technical skills.


A Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming an Interior Designer without a Degree

If you find yourself having all these skills, and you’re excited about the idea of becoming an interior designer, congratulations, but there’s still work to be done. Even though a degree is not required, there are still some steps you need to take to become one.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to becoming an interior designer without a degree:

1. Take Some Classes Online

Just because you don’t need a degree in interior design doesn’t mean you can’t take some classes.

In fact, it would be beneficial to do so. Taking a few classes will help you develop your skills and knowledge of the field.

It will also give you a chance to see if this is really the career for you. Plus, you won’t get much work if you can’t show at least some formal education.

There is a myriad of ways to enroll in interior design classes. Try an online learning platform. Reputable ones like LinkedIn Learning, Skillshare, and Coursera boast classes taught by experts and can even include certifications upon completion.

Some of our favorite online interior design courses include:

Interior Design Basics: Simple Steps to Your Perfect Space (Skillshare) Interior Design Basics: Simple Steps to Your Perfect Space (Skillshare)

This course teaches a fun, simple approach to interior design makes it easy to transform any space using the four principles used by interior designers to create beautiful spaces.

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Interior Design Essentials: How to create a professional 3D floor plan (Skillshare) Interior Design Essentials: How to create a professional 3D floor plan (Skillshare)

Learn how to create a 3D floorplan in SketchUp that's sure to impress your clients, employer, friends, and family.

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SketchUp Pro: Interior Design Detailing Online Class | LinkedIn Learning SketchUp Pro: Interior Design Detailing Online Class | LinkedIn Learning

In this class, interior design expert Rebecca Terpstra shows you how to create an interior design in SketchUp Pro from a basic floor plan, build it up three-dimensionally, populate the space with furniture and fixtures, and create the documentation needed to deliver it to a client or contractor. 

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Regardless of which of the short courses you choose, they’re all excellent resources to help you get started.

2. Start Working on Projects

Once you have some basic knowledge of the field, it’s time to start working on projects. This will help you gain experience and build up your interior design portfolio. If you don’t have any real-world work experience, it will be hard to get clients or land a job.

There are a few ways to get started working on projects. One is to volunteer your services. This could be for a friend, family member, or local organization. Another option is to look for internships or entry-level jobs. This can be a great way to get your foot in the door and start building up your experience.

3. Create a Website

An effective way to showcase what you can do as an interior designer is to create a website. This will allow you to share your work with the world and attract potential clients.

When creating your website, make sure to include:

  • Your name and contact information
  • A portfolio of your work
  • Information about your services
  • Testimonials from past clients

Then, hire an SEO specialist to help you make sure your website is ranking high in search engines. This will make it more likely that people will find your site when they’re searching for an interior designer.

4. Get Involved in the Interior Design Community

A great way to market yourself as an interior designer is to get involved in the community. This could mean joining a professional organization or simply attending local events.

Getting involved in the community will help you network with other professionals and make connections that could lead to new clients. It will also allow you to show off your work to potential customers.

5. Keep up With the Latest Trends

To be successful as an interior designer, you need to stay up-to-date with the latest trends. This means following design blogs, attending trade shows, and reading industry publications.

By keeping up with the latest trends, you’ll be able to offer your clients the most current and stylish designs. This will make you more likely to land new projects and grow your business and interior design career.


A Final Word on Becoming an Interior Designer without a Degree

A career as an interior designer can be very rewarding. It’s a creative field that allows you to use your imagination and express your artistic side. Plus, it can be financially lucrative.

If you’re interested in becoming an interior designer, there’s no need to get a degree. However, you will need to take some classes, start working on projects, and create a website. You should also get involved in the community and keep up with the latest trends. By following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to success in this exciting field.

Do you have any questions on how to become an interior designer without a degree? Let us know in the comments below!

Scott Winstead

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