How to become an interior designer

Becoming an interior designer is a journey into the captivating world of aesthetics, creativity and functionality. It means becoming someone who makes rooms look and work really well. In this profession, individuals transform spaces into harmonious and personalised environments. They become creative with colours, shapes and things like furniture to create beautiful and practical spaces.

Interior designers pay attention to little things like how colours and textures fit together, how furniture should be arranged and how decorations can be used to enhance the overall appeal of the space. They take what people want and turn it into useful and great looking rooms. This job allows individuals to make a big difference in how people feel in their homes and offices. So, being an interior designer is all about using your imagination and style to make spaces better for the people who use them.

Average Salary

Average Salary

£18,000 to £50,000


Qualification Level


Weekly Hours

Weekly Hours

40 to 42 hours

What will I do if I become an interior designer?

Becoming an interior designer in the UK opens up a world of exciting possibilities. As an interior designer, your job will be to cater to the unique preferences and needs of clients. You will have to stay updated with evolving design trends and adhere to local regulations. Whether it is designing a chic urban space or a cosy countryside cottage, this exciting profession presents a chance to bring visions to life.

Here are some of the key things that you will do as an interior designer:

  • Carefully listen to your clients and understand their needs, desires and vision for their space.
  • Using your creativity and design skills, craft visually appealing design concepts that reflect your clients’ preferences.
  • Choose materials, colours and furnishings that will help achieve a cohesive look.
  • Consider functionality and comfort while choosing items and materials for interior designing.
  • Optimise layouts and make the best use of space.
  • Meet your clients’ practical requirements.
  • Make cost-effective choices to meet your client’s budget while maintaining quality and aesthetic appeal.
  • Coordinate with contractors, architects and other professionals to ensure seamless execution of the design plan.
  • Stay up to date with the latest trends in interior design.
  • Ensure client satisfaction.

What educational requirements and qualifications do you need to embark on a career as an interior designer?

To take up an interior design job in the UK, you require creative talent and formal qualifications. Before you embark on this rewarding career path, you will need to pursue specific educational and professional requirements. Although you can get into interior design without a degree, obtaining the appropriate qualifications can significantly bolster your credibility and prospects in this competitive industry.

Diplomas and degrees in interior design or a related field will equip you with essential design principles. An interior design program will offer a structured learning environment where you can hone your skills and gain a deeper understanding of the profession. Moreover, having the necessary qualifications provides a level of legitimacy that can instil confidence in clients and employers. Ultimately, joining an interior design college or university will help you expand your opportunities and earning potential.

These are the options you can consider if you want to undertake an interior design course and have a successful career in interior design:

  1. Take up a course at a University (requires A levels in 1-2 subjects for foundation or diploma; A levels in 2-3 subjects for a degree programme).
  2. Take up a course at a College (requires a minimum of 4 GCSEs at grades 9-4 with good grades in English and Maths).
  3. Do an apprenticeship (requires 5 GCSEs at grades 9-4 with good grades in English and Maths).
  4. Work as an interior design assistant in a company (must be able to demonstrate strong skills and capabilities)

Employers within the industry generally favour candidates who possess qualifications in fields like:

  • Fine arts
  • Architecture
  • Interior or spatial design
  • Furniture design
  • Textile design
  • 3d design
  • Interior architecture

What essential skills does it take to become an interior designer?

Starting a successful interior design career in the UK demands a multifaceted skill set. An interior designer is not just an interior decorator. They are problem solvers and space enhancers. So, as an interior design professional, you will be transforming ordinary spaces into captivating environments that will reflect the unique needs and requirements of your clients. To be able to excel in the interior design field, you will need these key skills:

  • The ability to think outside the box and come up with innovative design concepts.
  • A keen eye for precision and a thorough understanding of aesthetics.
  • Proficiency in arranging and optimising spaces for aesthetics and functionality.
  • Communicating effectively with your clients, team members and contractors.
  • Excellent customer service skills.
  • Familiarity with design software, industry standards and building regulations.
  • Organisational skills to handle budget, timelines and resources effectively.
  • The ability to find creative solutions for interior design-related problems.
  • The ability to understand the needs and desires of your clients.

What is the average salary of interior designers in the UK?

The average salary of interior designers in the UK can vary depending on a number of factors. These mainly include experience, location and the sector in which they work. Generally, beginners can expect to earn an annual salary ranging from £18,000 to £25,000. As they gain more experience and expertise, they can earn up to £45,000 per year. Experienced interior designers in senior or managerial positions often earn higher salaries, which can sometimes exceed £50,000.

The specific industry in which an interior designer works can significantly impact their earnings. Designers employed by architectural firms tend to earn higher salaries compared to those working in smaller design studios. Moreover, geographical location plays a crucial role as well. Cities like London offer higher salaries due to the higher cost of living.

The average salary of interior designers can fluctuate. But, there is a potential for lucrative income, especially for those with a strong portfolio.

Possible career progression of an interior designer

The career progression of an interior designer in the UK is marked by a journey of continuous learning, experience and professional development. The path may vary based on individual aspirations and opportunities.

Freshly graduated or new interior designers often work as junior or assistant designers. With this role, they gain on-the-job experience by assisting senior designers. They assist with tasks like researching materials, drafting plans and contributing to design concepts. A new designer is able to build a portfolio and learn the ropes of the industry when they work under an experienced professional.

As they gain experience, they can become more independent and manage smaller projects as project designers. At this stage, they are able to handle everything from client meetings to final design implementation.

After accumulating years of work experience, interior designers can move into senior roles. They can oversee larger projects and take on leadership responsibilities. They can guide junior designers. And they can develop expertise in specific niches such as residential, commercial or hospitality designs.

Some designers choose to specialise in particular areas. These can include areas like healthcare, sustainable design or historic preservation. Specialisation in the design industry can potentially lead to more specialised roles, especially in larger firms.

One of the significant milestones for many professional interior designers is to start their own design business. This step allows them to take complete creative control and build their own personal brand. However, setting up a design business may require years of working experience, skills and qualifications.

Throughout their career as interior designers, they also often engage in ongoing education. They attend workshops and conferences and stay updated with the latest design trends. Many also seek to become a member of the British Institute of Interior Design. This helps them further establish their professional credentials.

What are the standard working hours of an interior designer?

The working hours can vary based on the specific project, work setting and client needs. Most interior designers generally follow a standard 9-5 schedule in an office environment. However, there are also those who find themselves working irregular hours on weekends and holidays. This usually happens when project deadlines approach. On average, an interior designer employed on a full-time basis works 40-42 hours per week.

Interior designers are also often required to attend meetings with clients, visit site projects or attend events. These activities can take place at different times. So, it is important that they are ready to adjust their schedules to meet project deadlines and make their clients happy. This exciting job combines both fixed office hours and the need to be a little flexible to get things done well.

What type of working environment will I be expected to work in as an interior designer?

The working conditions and environment can vary. Interior designers typically have an office where they do a lot of their planning and designing work. In this space, they use design software, create sketches and communicate with clients. However, they also spend a significant amount of time visiting project sites like residential homes, offices and commercial spaces. These visits are crucial for understanding the space and its specific requirements.

Interior designers have to work closely with architects, contractors and other professionals to ensure their designs are implemented correctly. They may have to attend trade shows and visit furniture stores from time to time to keep up with the latest design trends.

In my interior design job, what challenges can I encounter?

Having an interior design job can be an immensely rewarding and fulfilling experience. However, like any profession, it comes with a unique set of challenges that you will have to navigate, including:

  • Managing client expectations and preferences can be demanding.
  • Staying within the allocated budget while trying to balance quality.
  • Design trends keep changing, and keeping up with the latest can be a hassle.
  • Meeting project deadlines, especially when the project is complex.
  • Staying up-to-date with building codes, regulations and emerging design technologies.
  • Finding inspiration for each new project can be demanding.
  • Incorporating sustainable design practices into projects that require constant research and awareness.
  • Maintaining effective communication with clients, contractors and team members.

"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life"