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Job Photographs

  • A woman is sitting at a desk, using a computer.  She is using design software.  There is a notepad on the desk and a plastic cup.

    Designing a living environment using computer software.

  • A woman is kneeling in front of a pair of brown curtains.  She is in a house.

    Fitting a curtain at a client's house.

  • A woman is standing in front of rows of small, coloured pots.  She is holding pieces of card with coloured rectangles on it.

    Considering colours to use for an interior.

  • Two women are in a living room.  One is standing and the other is sitting on a sofa.  They are discussing different pieces of fabric, which are spread out on a table in front of them.

    Discussing design possibilities with a client.

  • A woman is sitting at a table looking through a large brochure.  There are folders on the table and other paper documents.

    Looking through brochures and magazines to keep up to date with current trends.

  • A woman is standing next to a table.  She is putting different coloured textiles onto a large sheet of white paper, which is on the table.

    Creating a mood board of styles, textures and colours.

  • A woman is measuring a curtain with a yellow tape measure.  She is in a house.

    Measuring up a doorway at a client's house.

  • A woman is standing next to a small, glass table.  She is holding a lamp with a large, square shade. On the table are lots of little candles and a cushion.

    Choosing lighting to fit a design brief.

  • Interior Designer

Interior Designer

Introduction

As an Interior Designer you will use design techniques to make the best visual and physical use of space - a process known as spatial planning. You'll specialise in the design of working and living environments and also the design and layout of exhibition venues.

They specialise in the design of working and living environments and also the design and layout of exhibition venues.

Also known as

  • Designer, Interior/Exhibition
  • Exhibition Designer

Work Activities

As an Interior Designer you will make the most effective use of space. You'll design working environments for organisations and living environments for private homes.

Interior design projects begin with a design brief, followed by detailed research. You will make sure that the designs you produce suit each client's requirements, and fit within their budget limits.

Research will help you to understand technical processes and their limitations, environmental and health/safety issues, as well as architectural practice. Without this research, you might waste time preparing designs that look attractive on paper, but may be impossible to construct.

Rough sketches and drawings are made and shown to the client. Once designs are approved, you will need to refine the original sketches to produce detailed working drawings, specifications and models, which contractors refer to during the work.

You will supervise and oversee the work. Some Interior Designers specialise as interior decorators and make suggestions about curtains, wall-coverings and furniture, all of which add the finishing touches to an interior design.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become an Interior Designer, you need:

  • good organisation and planning skills
  • to be creative and artistic
  • an understanding of colour, shape and form
  • to keep up to date with new design developments
  • to work to deadlines and budgets
  • good communication, presentation and negotiation skills
  • problem-solving skills
  • an understanding of building and safety regulations

Self-employed or freelance Interior Designers will need business and marketing skills.

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

The pay rates given below are approximate.

  • Starting: £24,000 - £25,000
  • With experience: £26,500 - £31,000
  • Senior Interior Designers earn £33,000 - £35,500

Hours of work

Interior Designers usually work 39 hours a week, Monday to Friday. Working hours for self-employed Designers may be irregular, depending on the project they are working on. Late finishes and weekend work may be required from time to time, especially as deadlines approach.

Where could I work?

Most Interior Designers begin their careers as design assistants in design consultancies or design departments of building and construction-related organisations. Other opportunities are with large retailers or with hotel groups.

Opportunities for Interior Designers occur with employers in towns and cities throughout the UK.

Self-employment

Opportunities occur for Interior Designers to work as self-employed, freelance Designers in consultancy and fixed-term contract work. You can obtain this work through specialist recruitment agencies.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised in design industry magazines/journals, on all the major job boards, on Find a Job, and at Jobcentre Plus.

It's a good idea to build up a network of relevant contacts, as not all interior design jobs are advertised. Making speculative job applications to potential employers can be useful.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

A common route into this career is from a Foundation course in art and design followed by a degree, HND or foundation degree in a subject such as interior or spatial design.

A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article 'Internships', for more details.

Training

Most of your training will be on-the-job.

If you would like some more training, then the British Academy of Interior Design (BAID) offer a certificate course. This course is an introduction to learners who would like to pursue this career. You would be learning about:

  • creating a sample board
  • wallpaper
  • window treatments
  • flooring
  • surveying a room
  • furniture
  • space planning
  • paint
  • colour
  • lighting

BAID also offers other courses that you could complete. Check the website for more details.

Other courses could be available in your area.

Progression

Many Designers become self-employed. With experience, some move into senior roles within an organisation.

Work Experience

Skills gained as an Assistant in a design studio or in a design consultancy would be really useful for this career.

Qualifications

The usual entry requirements for a relevant Foundation course are:

  • 1/2 A levels where you'll need an A level in art or in an art-based subject
  • GCSEs at grade C/4 or above in 4/5 subjects where some courses ask that you have a pass in English

Alternatives to A levels include:

  • a BTEC level 3 qualification in art and design
  • a design Advanced Level Apprenticeship
  • the International Baccalaureate Diploma

Many other qualifications are also accepted so check prospectuses for more details.

To enter any course in art and design, you'll need a portfolio of your work.

Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.

Skills/experience

Skills gained as an assistant in a design studio or in a design consultancy are valued. Commercial awareness and an understanding of the industry you want to work in is an advantage.

To enter the work or relevant courses, a portfolio of work showing your creative ability is normally required.

Courses

If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree or HND course, a college or university Access course (eg, Access to Art and Design) could be the way in. No formal qualifications are usually required, but you should check individual course details.

They can lead to relevant degree/HND courses.

It's also possible to do a part-time Art Foundation course, which leads to a degree or HND course. Higher National Certificate (HNC) courses are also available part-time, often in the evenings and/or in the daytime.

A full list of relevant interior design courses is available from the British Institute of Interior Design website.

The British Display Society approves various courses, relevant for exhibition designers. This includes short courses. A full list is available on their website.

Universities and colleges of higher education (HE) will usually consider applications from candidates who don't meet their usual entry requirements, especially those with experience in arts, crafts or design. You should check the admissions policy of individual universities and HE colleges.

Distance learning

Relevant courses at various levels in interior design and related subjects are offered by a large number of centres, by distance learning.

The National Design Academy offers a foundation degree and BA (Hons) in Interior Design, via distance learning, and part-time study.

The Interactive Design Institute, in association with the University of Hertfordshire, offers a degree in Interior Architecture and Design, via distance learning.

Further Information

Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far

National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)

Tel: 0800 015 0400

Email: nationalhelpdesk@findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk

Website: www.apprenticeships.org.uk

ScreenSkills

Skills for the creative industries

Email: info@creativeskillset.org

Website: www.creativeskillset.org

Creative Choices

Publisher: Creative & Cultural Skills

Email: info@creative-choices.co.uk

Website: www.creative-choices.co.uk

Creative & Cultural Skills

Skills for craft, cultural heritage, design, literature, music, performing arts and visual arts

Email: london@ccskills.org.uk

Website: ccskills.org.uk

Chartered Society of Designers (CSD)

Email: info@csd.org.uk

Website: www.csd.org.uk

Getting into Art & Design Courses

Author: James Burnett Publisher: Trotman

Website: trotman.co.uk/our-books/getting-into-art-and-design-courses/

British Display Society (BDS)

Tel: 020 8856 2030

Email: enquiries@britishdisplaysociety.co.uk

Website: www.britishdisplaysociety.co.uk

British Institute of Interior Design

Address: 109 Design Centre East, Chelsea Harbour, London SW10 0XF

Tel: 020 7349 0800

Email: info@biid.org.uk

Website: www.biid.org.uk

Rhodec International

Address: 35 East Street, Brighton BN1 1HL

Tel: 01273 327476

Email: contact@rhodec.org

Website: www.rhodec.org

KLC School of Design

Address: 503 Design Centre East, Chelsea Harbour, London SW10 0XF

Tel: 020 7376 3377

Email: info@klc.co.uk

Website: www.klc.co.uk

National Design Academy (NDA)

Address: Rufford Hall, Waterside Way, Trent Park, Nottingham NG2 4DP

Tel: 0115 9123412

Email: enquiries@nda.ac.uk

Website: www.nda.ac.uk

Creative Careers

Publisher: National Portrait Gallery and other museums

Website: cmd.npg.org.uk

Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844

Website: ams.careerswales.com/

Hiive

Hiive is the online professional network for creative people.

Website: app.hiive.co.uk/

British Academy of Interior Design (BAID)

Tel: 020 3393 4154

Email: info@baid.co.uk

Website: www.baid.co.uk

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