How Can I Become an Interior Design Consultant?

Learn about the courses and degree programs that can help you become an interior design consultant. Read about job duties, professional activities, potential employers and opportunities for career development. Schools offering Art degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Interior Design Consultant?

An interior design consultant serves as an advisor to clients on topics related to interior design. Some are trained interior designers who have highly specialized knowledge in a particular area of the field, such as sustainable design. They may offer services to general interior designers who can use their expertise on a particular project, such as how to renovate a house in a way that is both aesthetically pleasing and environmentally friendly. Alternatively, some interior design consultants are also marketing or sales professionals. Using their knowledge of interior design, they can recommend products to interior designers who are looking to buy products for their projects, or they may advise inexperienced individuals who are renovating their own homes on what products to buy. They could also sell products for wholesale manufacturers of interior design-related products and sell them to retail outlets that sell building renovation products.

Retail Sales Worker Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representative Interior Designer
Degree Required High school diploma High school diploma Associate's or Bachelor's Degree
Educational Field of Study Design courses preferred Design courses preferred Interior Design
Key Responsibilities Answer customer questions; recommend interior design-related merchandise; demonstrate the use of merchandise; complete transactions Identify potential clients; describe and demonstrate the use of interior design-related merchandise; negotiate and finalize contracts Advise on the planning of interior design projects based on expertise in the field, including materials selection, room layouts and budgeting
Licensure Requirements None None Licensure required in some states
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 7% 7% 4%
Mean Salary (2015)* $26,340 $66,790 $55,510

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does an Interior Design Consultant Do?

Consultants are professionals who get paid to share their specialized expertise with clients. While interior design consultants and interior designers often perform similar functions, there are some differences. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), interior designers plan, coordinate and execute the design of space in a building (www.bls.gov). They not only draw out the plans, but also purchase and physically set up items such as artwork, rugs and furniture.

If you become an interior design consultant, you job will be to provide your clients with design ideas they may implement on their own. You might also try to sell them products and services offered by your company. Utilizing your skills and design judgment, you might choose colors, textures and architectural features that meet your clients' aesthetic and functional requirements. You create plans and present drawings or computer-generated images to communicate your ideas. Creativity, artistic ability and a working knowledge of computer-aided drafting software is necessary. As an interior design consultant, you may work at furniture, department or home improvement stores. You might also find employment at a design firm, assisting interior designers.

What Education Do I Need?

A college degree is not always required to be an interior design consultant. If you work as a wholesale or sales representative, you only need a high school, according to the BLS. However, as seen in October 2011 job postings on Monster.com, employers prefer some coursework be taken in the design field. Professional design schools offer classes in space planning, computer-aided drafting, textiles, color and design fundamentals. It can also help to earn an interior design consultant certificate, which may be completed on its own or in conjunction with a diploma or associate's degree program in a related field. Courses in these certificate programs include marketing, visual merchandising and interior design planning.

Alternatively, if you want to work as an expert interior designer who advises other interior designers in a particular area of specialization, you need to have an associate's or bachelor's degree in interior design. You can also complete a certificate program to increase your expertise in your specialization area of interest and improve your overall knowledge of the field.

Learn While Working

For interior designers who want to offer expert consulting services, experience in the field is essential, so you will likely need to spend a few years working in the field before you can get this job. As a sales agent, you will increase your knowledge of both the products you sell and the interior design field in general as you help more clients with interior design projects. You will also likely improve your skills at successfully using your interior design knowledge to make a sale that is favorable to both your company and your client.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you are interested in design, you could also consider becoming a graphic designer. They use software to create designs for websites, print publications or advertisements. The minimum educational requirement is a bachelor's degree. Alternatively, if you are looking for a job as a sales agent, you could get a job selling advertising space, which only requires a high school diploma. A sales position that would require a greater degree of expertise, in which your clients might rely on your expertise, is a job selling scientific products, such as medical devices, for a manufacturing company. You may need a bachelor's degree in a scientific field to get this job.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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  • The George Washington University

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  • The Art Institutes

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  • CDI College

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    • Anywhere: Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Point Claire, Toronto
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