Becoming an Interior Decorator: Job Description & Salary Info

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What are the pros and cons of an interior decorator career? Get real job descriptions, career outlook information and salary statistics to decide if becoming an interior decorator is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of an Interior Decorator Career

Interior decorators furnish spaces according to fashion and aesthetics. To learn a bit more about the pros and cons of a career as an interior decorator, keep reading.

Pros of an Interior Decorator Career
High income potential (hourly rate can range from $11.96 -$74.17)**
Opportunity to use creative skills*
A college degree is usually not needed*
No rigorous training requirements*

Cons of an Interior Decorator Career
Restricted to just decorating; can't make any architectural changes*
Lack of opportunity for advancement*
Work may be determined by client's budget*
Consumers may misinterpret you as an interior designer*

Sources: *Certified Interior Decorators International, **

Essential Career Information

Job Duties

While working as an interior decorator, you'll consult with clients to help them select a style for a particular room and plan the space. As part of your presentation, you'll make suggestions on specific colors, fabrics, furniture, flooring, wall coverings and lighting. Other responsibilities include contacting vendors and contractors to secure the furnishings. You'll need to create a timeline for completing your design projects and make your clients aware of the estimated cost.

Visiting after the project is completed to ensure client satisfaction is also an important duty. Making sure that your design choices will be compatible with a client's taste will be your main objective. If you work in a retail setting, you might sell custom decorating materials to customers and install them in customers' homes.

Salary Information

In July 2015, reported the 10th to 90th percentile of interior decorators' hourly rate to be between $11.96-$74.17, which equals to a median income of $39,186 per year.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that interior designers should see good job prospects from 2012-2022 particularly in higher income areas where wealthier clients are more likely to remodel or renovate their homes. This will likely improve the need for decorators.

Requirements for Interior Decorators

According to the Certified Interior Decorators International, there are no formal educational or licensing requirements for interior decorators, although many employers and prospective clients may prefer decorators with some design-related education. Knowledge of color coordination and specific materials is necessary. You'll also need to be familiar with trends in furniture styles and fabric choices.

You'll need to possess good interpersonal skills to succeed as an interior decorator, both to ensure that your design choices are appropriate for your client and to keep clients informed of any problems. Basic creativity and visualization skills will also be important in your work as an interior decorator, and a detail-oriented mindset can help you complete projects efficiently. Additionally, you'll need to be able to work well under pressure and solve any design dilemmas.

What Are Employers Looking for?

Most interior decorating positions are full-time and require some design experience. If you possess the skills and knowledge needed to become an interior decorator, you might find work through soliciting private clients or in retail settings. Some job postings open as of late April 2012 might give you an idea of the current job market for prospective interior decorators:

  • A major retailer seeks a decorator consultant to work in one of its Texas locations. The position involves selling decorating merchandise and performing service calls and installations. Experience with color coordination and custom decorating techniques are desirable.
  • A home furnishings outlet in Michigan is looking for a furniture sales designer/decorator to meet with customers to customize a room with furniture and window treatments. Preference will be given to candidates with interior design or fashion experience.
  • A stone retailer based in Connecticut seeks a decorator to teach customers on the use of stone in interior and exterior areas of the home. Experience in kitchen and bathroom decoration is preferred, along with some college coursework. A bachelor's degree is desirable.

Standing out in the Field

One common theme among employers seeking interior decorators is sales experience. Interior decorators make verbal suggestions to their clients about what to buy and sometimes persuasion is necessary. Having a grasp of this skill or developing this through retail sales experience can help you stand out among others.

If you want to set yourself apart from other jobseekers in the interior decorating field, you may want to consider advancing your education. Some of the aforementioned job postings preferred candidates with a degree. An associate's or bachelor's degree in an interior design-related field can give you an advantage when trying to find clients. With licensure not available to interior decorators, a degree can be a great way to affirm your skills and ability.

Alternative Career Options

If you want to apply your design knowledge and creativity to wider spaces with increased responsibility, you might consider shifting your focus to a career in interior design. While interior designers make aesthetic choices just as decorators do, they must also maintain functionality and safety in the spaces they alter. Interior designers often use complex software to plan projects and need to be able to read blueprints and construction plans. A bachelor's degree is typically required to work as an interior designer, and licensure is required in most states. As of May 2011, the BLS reported a median annual salary of around $48,000 for interior designers.

Working as an art director might be a good option if you'd prefer to set the visual style of advertising and other forms of media. Art directors supervise the work of graphic designers, illustrators and photographers and might work for advertising agencies or magazines. You'll need at least a bachelor's degree and work experience in art or design to become an art director. The BLS projected a nine percent job growth for art directors from 2010-2020, and a median wage of about $81,000 was reported as of May 2011.

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