Becoming a Home Decorator: Job Description & Salary Information

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What are the pros and cons of a home decorator career? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming a home decorator is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Becoming a Home Decorator

Home decorators, also known as interior decorators or designers, customize rooms and buildings using furnishings, textures, lighting and color. To find out whether your interest in a decoration career is worth the realities of the business, check out the pros and cons chart.

Pros of a Home Decorator Career
Allows creativity in selecting and arranging decorative items*
You may work in a variety of settings, such as retail stores, design firms or your own business**
Formal education is optional and can be completed quickly (typically in a year or two)*
Opportunity to run your own decorating business*

Cons of a Home Decorator Career
Home decorators who work for themselves must generate their own business*
Meeting decoration project deadlines and staying on budget can be stressful*
Work may be commission-based*
Work may require selections contrary to your personal taste***

Sources: *Erwin Technical Center, **

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Home decorators consult with homeowners and provide advice on how to furnish their living spaces. They help with the selection of furniture, drapes, flooring, rugs and paint colors. Generally, decorators do not handle the planning or design of architectural elements, such as cabinetry or built-in elements. They may, however, provide aesthetic recommendations regarding lighting and fabric type as well as ornamental items, like pictures or vases.

Many decorators are employed by furnishing or home improvement stores. These positions require a thorough product knowledge and knack for retail sales. In-store decorators make recommendations to customers from the product lines sold in their stores. Home decorators also have the option of self-employment. If you choose to work for yourself, you'll need business savvy and appropriate licensing and permits from your state.

Decorators must have an eye for color and the ability to create a mood using patterns, flooring, lamps and wall décor. This position will require you to stay on top of trends since your clients will look to you to bring their homes into style.

Salary Info

In July 2015, reported that most decorators earned between about $25,000 and $124,000 annually. For self-employed decorators, wages depend on hourly consulting fees, price per square footage, or the flat rate they set. In-store decorators may be paid on commission. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median wage for interior designers as of May 2014 was $48,400. The BLS projected a 13% growth rate increase for the years of 2012 through 2022, which is as fast as the national average for all occupations.

What Are the Requirements?

Formal Education

Postsecondary education is not a requirement for home decorators, but short programs are available and beneficial in this field. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program at community colleges, universities and technical schools. Coursework covers aesthetic principles, the history of furnishing, color theory, fabrics, lighting and business principles.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Most requirements are determined by your employer or clients. It's likely that you will need a thorough knowledge of decorating products and furnishings, business savvy and the ability to juggle multiple projects at once. You may work on a team and need sales abilities.

Educational requirements, personal traits and experience requirements can vary from one employer to another. The following list, while not all-encompassing, includes an array of job postings from real employers as listed on in March 2012.

  • A furnishing store in Michigan was seeking a decorator and furniture sales associate to consult with customers in its showroom. The preferred candidate would have sales, interior design, fashion or window treatment experience.
  • An Indiana paint store had an opening for a part-time decorator specialist. This position required candidates to advise customers in selecting paint colors, stock items, mix paint and provide additional customer service. Candidates needed prior sales or decorating experience.
  • In California, a home furnishing boutique was filling a sales and interior design position. Requirements included customer service, sales and teamwork abilities. Ideal candidates would have a background in retail settings.
  • A Dallas furnishing showroom was hiring a creative and passionate sales person with experience in design. Payment was commission-based. Ideal candidates would have experience in architecture, design or real estate.

How to Stand out in the Field

Join a Professional Organization

You may become a member of the Decorators' Alliance of North America (DANA) or Certified Interior Decorators International (C.I.D.). Association with reputable groups can help to build your resume, get your name out and demonstrate professionalism to clients. As a member of a professional organization, you will be required to pay dues.

Get Certified

Earning certification can make you more marketable, since it proves your competency to employers and clients. Both DANA and C.I.D. offer professional certification. To be eligible for DANA certification (Certified Professional Decorator), you must pass an exam. You must also complete free online continuing education courses offered by the organization. In order to qualify for C.I.D. certification (Certified Interior Decorator), you need to complete an approved training program.

Other Careers to Consider

Interior Designer

If you want to take your career a step further and work with room layout, design and architectural aspects along with decorating, you may consider pursuing a career as an interior designer. In this job, you'll use function, safety and beauty to enhance the appeal of commercial and residential spaces. As a designer, you work with contractors, plumbers, architects and electricians, in addition to your clients. You must be able to read blueprints, create and stick to a budget and meet important deadlines. You'll need to complete a bachelor's degree and apprenticeship. Many states also require designers to be licensed. Per the BLS, between 2010 and 2020, employment of interior designers was expected to increase at an average rate of 19%. The mean annual salary was about $53,000 as of May 2011.


If you'd prefer to design buildings rather than their interiors, you may want to consider working as an architect. Professionals in this field meet the safety, structure and aesthetic needs of their clients by creating blueprints that include heating, ventilation and cooling, plumbing, electrical wiring and structural components. This career requires at least a bachelor's degree and state licensure (requiring job experience), which combined can take 5-10 years. The average yearly salary for architects was near $79,000 in 2011, according to the BLS. A bonus is that jobs were predicted to grow faster than average, at 24%, between 2010 and 2010, reported by the BLS.

Construction Laborer

If you want to perform hands-on work but are uninterested in the artistic aspect of interior design, work in the construction industry may be for you. Workers in this field build structures and may specialize in a certain industry, such as plumbing or carpentry. Most training for constructions workers takes place on the job, but some workers complete apprenticeships or vocational training. According to the BLS, pay depends on your specialization, but on average, employees in this field made a yearly wage of about $34,000 in 2011. The BLS reported that while this industry was greatly affected by the recession that began in 2007, demand for construction workers was expected to grow at the faster than average rate of 24% from 2010 through 2020.

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