How Can I Become a Certified Interior Decorator?

Research what it takes to become a certified interior decorator. Learn about education and professional certification requirements, job duties and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Interior Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does an Interior Decorator Do?

Interior decorators help clients decide how the inside spaces of homes or businesses should look. In addition to evaluating the space, they select decorative items, such as colors, lighting, and other materials to enhance the aesthetics. They may also create sketches, make timelines, and order the materials necessary so organization is important. You also need to able to effectively listen, communicate and interpret a client's wishes. Take a look at the following chart for an overview of how to enter this field.

Education Required Bachelor's degree
Key Responsibilities Determine with clients how to decorate interior spaces, provide advice on furnishing, wall colors, textiles and more, order furnishings and hire workers
Certification Certification with accredited program
Job Growth (2012-2022) 4% (for all interior designers)*
Median Salary (2015) $38,884**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **

What Would I Do as a Certified Interior Decorator?

As an interior decorator, you would work with clients to determine how they want the interior spaces of their homes or businesses to look. You would listen to their needs and advise them on furnishing, wall colors, textiles and other decorative features of a room. You need to have good listening skills and an ability to interpret your clients' wishes. When you and your client have agreed on a plan, you begin to implement all practical aspects of the design, from ordering furniture to hiring painters.

As an interior designer, you perform decorating tasks but your work may include some architecture and layout planning as well. You help a client with all aspects of a room, including planning any additional construction such as removing or adding walls or windows or installing built-in furniture like permanent bookshelves.

What Education Do I Need?

As an interior decorator, you need to know what's in style and have an eye for what looks good. Though formal education isn't necessary to begin work in the interior decorating field, you may choose to attend a training program. Certified Interior Decorators International (CID) accredits various programs that can take a few months to a year to complete (

You may also choose to enroll in a certificate program in interior decorating at a community college or university. Such programs often include courses in space planning, interior design, furniture design and color theory. You may also take classes in art and style fundamentals and history as well as computer classes to learn the software of the trade. Many programs can prepare you to take the examination for certification as offered by CID.

How Do I Become Certified?

CID offers the Certified Interior Decorator (CID) designation. To become a CID, you need to become a member of CID, have completed a CID-accredited training program and receive a passing score on the examination. Your continued membership in CID allows you to retain your certification. If you are interested in interior design versus interior decorating, check the National Council for Interior Design Qualification for licensing requirements for your state ( CID does not allow its members to also be affiliated with interior design organizations because the jobs have different purviews.

What Is the Job Outlook?

Though there are always people who want to redecorate or style their homes with the help of a professional, homeowners tend to decrease unnecessary projects in times of economic downturn, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( The BLS noted, however, that for the decade 2014-2024, companies will desire more identifiable interior spaces to create or renew their corporate image, which could increase demand for interior decorators who offer new furnishing and design concepts. In the same decade, employment is expected to grow 4%, which is slower than the average for all occupations.

Although there may be keen competition for interior decorating and design jobs, your creativity and professionalism, as well as expertise in a specific area, can help you find new clients. The BLS also noted that job prospects will likely be best in wealthier areas where clients are more likely to pay for home renovations.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Interior decorators must be both creative and organized. Art directors create images for publications and these traits are equally important. Architects also evaluate spaces and use creative sensibilities to fulfill client's visual needs. Graphic designers use computers and their hands to create visual concepts for clients. All of these roles require a bachelor's degree and use similar skill sets to those of an interior decorator.

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:

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