What Does a Design Consultant Do?

Design consultants, often called interior designers, design spaces large and small - from rooms in houses to hotels to airports. If you have an eye for color, texture, and lighting and enjoy working with people, becoming a design consultant might be a good option for you. Keep reading to learn more about this occupation and what type of education you'll need. Schools offering Art degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Overview of Design Consulting

Whether working for a consulting firm or as an independent consultant, your first task will be to meet with your clients in order to find out what their needs are. After this, you might provide blueprints or drawings based on your clients' ideas and your design knowledge. You would suggest and provide samples of flooring, paint, wallpaper, furniture, room accents, window coverings, and lighting. You would provide cost and budget information to your clients and, if necessary, hire subcontractors to work on plumbing, electricity, or drywall.

Quite often, design consultants work with architects and others who may be working on a project. While designers have traditionally concerned themselves with decorating, the profession increasingly involves choosing the architectural details of a space, such as moldings and other woodwork accents. You might also find yourself helping to decide where to put doorways, closets, walkways, and other features of a new building or remodel.

Many interior design consultants specialize in a certain area, such as kitchens, closets, bathrooms, indoor gardens, home spas, or other areas. You might decide that you have a knack for a certain type of design, such as green design (focusing on energy-efficient, non-toxic, and renewable resources) or design for a certain sector of the population, such as the elderly or disabled.

Important Facts About Design Consultants

On-the-Job Training Experience can be acquired through internship programs
Key Skills Creativity, attention to detail, customer focused, problem solving, critical thinking,
Work Environment Furniture stores, wholesale facilities, engineering/architectural firms
Similar Occupations Architects; art directors; craft and fine artists; graphic designers; industrial designers; landscape architects


In order to become a professional in this field, you need a college degree. One way to go about this is to earn an Associate of Applied Arts in Interior Design, where you'll take courses relating to design, textiles, drawing, computer-aided design (CAD), business, and marketing. You'll also have an opportunity to develop a portfolio. A Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degree program in interior design will provide similar coursework involving design, drawing, graphics, construction, materials, and architecture, and the program may require a portfolio for entry. Both types of programs generally involve an internship. A master's degree in interior design will provide you with advanced knowledge in design, theory, and communication applications and will most likely involve a thesis or creative project.


In order to obtain a license, which is mandatory in some states, you must take the exam administered by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification. To take this exam, you must have a minimum of six years combined of both education and professional experience in the interior design field, with at least two of those years consisting of postsecondary education. Once you take and pass the exam, depending on the state in which you work, you will be granted the title of either certified, registered, or licensed interior designer.

Job Outlook and Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), employment in the field of interior design could grow as much as 4% between 2016 and 2026. The demand for interior designers fluctuates with the economy, since hiring an interior designer is often considered a luxury expense. This job field is competitive; however, the BLS anticipates that opportunities will be especially good for design consultants with perseverance and creativity as well as for those with a specialization, such as kitchen design. In a May 2018 report, the mean annual wage for interior designers was $59,120.

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