How to Become an Interior Decorator

Career Path Guide

To become an interior decorator, you typically need post-secondary education in a field related to interior design, visual arts, or a closely related field. You can also get into this career with work experience related to interior decorating or retail sales.  


If you want to work in this field, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for your skills, interests and personality traits. Does the following describe you?


• You have a keen interest in fashion and décor

• You have a strong sense of proportion and visual awareness

• You have excellent listening skills and are able to determine the needs of others

• You have skills in sales, as well as making presentations

• You enjoy work that involves creativity

• You enjoy the idea of a career with a varied workload, including sales, interior decorating, data entry, and other duties


Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as an interior decorator. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Needed to Become an Interior Decorator

In general, employers prefer to hire candidates for interior decorator jobs that have a post-secondary education in interior design, visual arts, or a closely related field.


Employers may also hire candidates who have related work experience in place of a post-secondary education. Related work experience may come in the form of interior decorating work, or retail sales experience. Ideally, the candidate will have an education and work experience that is related to interior decoration.


It is possible however, for interior decorators to get a job without education or work experience, as they may acquire the necessary skills by learning on the job, or by taking related training programs. 





General Job Description

Interior decorators coordinate the decorative aspect of residential, industrial and commercial spaces. These may include private homes, hotels, restaurants, schools, universities, office buildings, factories and nightclubs. They may be involved in decorating new spaces or replacing the décor for existing ones. Interior decorators often assist with the décor for special events such as weddings.



Typical Job Duties

• Coordinate interior space finishes such as lighting, floor and wall coverings, pictures, furniture and accessories

• Consult with clients to determine style and colour preferences, needs and overall budget

• Provide client with decorating recommendations, colours and samples for approval

• Purchase, or supervise the purchase of materials

• Coordinate the delivery and installation of materials



Who Creates Jobs for Interior Decorators?

There are a few different career options for those wishing to become interior decorators. Aspiring decorators can work as freelancers, start their own decorating company, work for a dedicated decorating and design company, or they can work as an in-house employee of an organization, such as a home builder.


The following types of employers may hire interior decorators on a part-time, contractual, or full-time basis:


• Department stores

• Homebuilders

• Event and wedding planning companies

• Paint and wall covering retail outlets

• General home improvement stores

• Furniture stores

• Real estate staging companies

• Property management companies

• Carpet outlets

• Fabric and window covering suppliers

• Construction industry suppliers (for example, kitchen cabinets, lighting or bathroom fixtures)

• Decorating, design and architecture firms

• Construction companies

• Hotels and restaurants

• Self-employment (as a freelancer)



How to Start Getting Work as an Interior Decorator

A great way to begin in the field of interior decoration is to volunteer your services to friends and family. This will give you valuable experience as well as the chance to develop your portfolio beyond what you have contributed to it as a result of school projects.


Developing and maintaining a portfolio is of utmost importance to an interior decorator, as it serves as a visual resume. Ensure that your portfolio contains a variety of your best work. Your portfolio can also include letters of recommendation and design boards.


Upon graduation, apply for a job within a company that hires decorators, such as home builders, manufacturers of furniture and housewares, hotel and restaurant chains, furniture stores, home improvement stores, antiques dealers, housewares stores, etc., plus interior design and decorating firms.


If you are interested in pursuing self-employment or freelance work, you will need to develop a business plan that will outline your marketing strategies as well as your necessary funding, equipment, space and supplies, and suppliers.


One way to market your services is by networking with professionals who can refer business to you, such as real estate agents, architects, antiques dealers, art dealers, home renovators, and owners of businesses that sell home furnishings. In addition to these efforts, a strongly recommended marketing technique is to build a website with photos of interiors you have decorated; this can act as your online portfolio.


Depending on the niche you want to pursue, you can choose to market your service to such potential clients as homebuilders, new home buyers, home owners and professional couples. You can also choose to market to small businesses, such as advertising agencies, art galleries, bed and breakfasts, boutique stores, corporate head offices, hotels, law firms, restaurants, spas, and others.





Skills You'll Need

To be effective as an interior decorator, and perform your job duties with competence, you need to posses a certain set of skills, including:


• Strong sense of proportion and visual awareness

• Imaginative in selecting furnishings and fabrics and in creating spaces that serve the client’s needs

• Understanding of how pieces of a design will fit together to create the intended interior environment

• Good spatial perception and the ability to visualize three dimensions from two-dimensional drawings

• Freehand drawing skills

• Proficient in the use of computer-aided design (CAD) software

• Excellent sales ability

• Excellent communication and presentation skills



Characteristics of Successful Interior Decorators

In order to enjoy performing the duties of an interior decorator, you need to have certain personality traits. Taking enjoyment from your job duties is important, as it helps you maintain a positive attitude towards your work, which usually leads to having a long and successful career.


• A keen interest in fashion and home décor

• Able to work well with different personality types

• Comfortable selling people on ideas or products

• Able to either tolerate working for others, or the risks associated with starting a business

• Enjoy having clear rules and organized methods for work

• Enjoy the idea of a career with a varied workload, including sales, interior decorating, data entry, and other duties



Typical Work Environment

Working Hours: Interior decorators may work a wide variety of hours, which depend on where they work. Some interior decorators may work normal weekday hours, whereas others may have to adapt their schedules to meet their clients’ needs, which may include working in the evenings and on weekends.


Setting: Interior decorators are typically based out of an office, although they may also work in other settings, such as a retail storefront. They often spend a good amount of time working on-location, and spend some time in their day traveling, as they must usually visit the project location, pick up supplies from distributors, as well as visit the homes and offices of clients.


Conditions: The work of an interior decorator is quite varied, as they have a variety of tasks they must execute related to a decorating project. At times they work alone doing mundane tasks such as data entry and filing. Other times they must use a computer by themselves for long periods, such as when they are placing orders with suppliers and creating designs using CAD software. Some of their day is also consumed by working with people of different personality types, such as other contractors on a project, and the clients themselves. 



Interior Decorator Jobs

Our job board below has "Interior Decorator" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.




Interior Decorator Salary

The salary level of interior decorators can vary based on a number of factors, including:


• Their level of education

• Their level of experience

• The size and type of their employer


Their amount interior decorators earn may also depend on their remuneration structure, such as whether they are paid on an hourly, salary or commission basis. They may also receive sales target bonuses, incentives and other forms of additional compensation.


Unfortunately there is no specific salary information available from reliable sources for the career Interior Decorator. We can however, get a good idea of what they earn by looking at the salary level of workers in closely related occupations.


Interior Decorator Salary Alberta: According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey (the latest figures available at the time of writing - February 8, 2020), Albertans working in the Interior Decorators occupational group earn an average salary of $62,883 per year.


Salary - British Columbia: According to WorkBC (Province of British Columbia), the annual provincial median salary of British Columbians working in the Interior Designers and Decorators occupational group $45,760.


Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, American workers in the Interior Designers occupational group earn a median salary of $53,370 per year (May, 2018 figures).



Similar Careers in Our Database

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Interior Decorator, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.



Home Economist

Interior Design Consultant

Interior Designer

Visual Merchandiser




To find out more about what an interior decorator does, how much they earn, and other details of this career, please consult the following resources:


Occupations in Alberta:Interior Decorator.” (March 21, 2015). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved December 23, 2019.

Explore Careers: Interior designers and interior decorators.” (July 5, 2018). WorkBC website. Retrieved February 8, 2020.

Arts & Design:Interior Designers.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved December 23, 2019.

Articles:How to Become an Interior Decorator.” Tonya Lee (October 21, 2019). The Spruce website. Retrieved December 23, 2019.

Faculty of Creative Studies:Interior Decorating.” AGCAS editors (March, 2019). Academy Canada website. Retrieved December 23, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming an Interior Decorator

Scholarships in Canada and the United States listed for majors that apply to becoming an Interior Decorator can be found on our All Scholarships by Major page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Relevant University Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming an interior decorator. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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