How to Become an Interior Design Consultant

Career Path Guide

To become an interior design consultant, you typically need a bachelor’s degree in a field related to interior design, or a closely related field.


You can also get into this career if you have an equivalent combination of education and experience. Interior design consultants who work in a strictly décor and customer service capacity may not require formal education at all.


If you want to become an interior design consultant, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for your skills, interests and personality traits. If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for this career:


• You have a keen interest in colour, furnishings and décor

• You enjoy creative work that involves precision

• You have a customer-oriented approach to work activities

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

• You enjoy advising customers and clients

• You enjoy work that involves unforeseen challenges


Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as an interior design consultant. 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 Design Consultant

In order to become an interior design consultant that performs a full range of interior design services, you typically need a bachelor's degree in interior design, or a closely related field.


Some employers may prefer to hire interior design consultants with a or master’s degree in a field related to interior design, as it offers a more comprehensive education, and better prepares the graduate to be a competent interior designer.


An associate’s degree or diploma in a field related to interior design may be all that’s required if you are hired simply to perform décor and customer service related duties, rather than space remodeling duties.


You may not even require formal education at all, provided you have related work experience, such as retail sales experience, or experience working with interior décor in some capacity.





What is an Interior Design Consultant?

Interior design consultants are interior designers that are hired by clients to suggest and/or implement design ideas that incorporate both functionality and aesthetics for residential, commercial or industrial spaces. Organizations and individuals usually hire interior design consultants when they are planning major renovations or constructing new buildings and residences. 


Interior design consultants may be hired to consult for any stage of the project, including overseeing an entire design project from inception to completion. They may be hired for one or more of the following purposes, depending on the needs and the budget of the client:


• Space planning

• Project management

• Interior styling



What Do They Do?

Interior design consultants may be hired to perform some or all of the following duties for a client, depending on the scope of services the client is requesting:


Design schematics and drafting: Interior design consultants may be hired to create new space plans for existing spaces, or develop space plans for new spaces. This includes analyzing the function of the space, defining the client’s needs and goals, identifying the style, establishing the budget, as well as providing detailed floor plans.


Interior décor suggesting and/or planning: Interior design consultants may be hired to suggest interior décor elements for clients, and they may also be responsible for sourcing and purchasing these items. Interior décor elements may include colours, paints, fabrics, furniture, window treatments, appliances, fixtures, lighting, as well as the re-purposing of items already found in a client’s home.


Working with other contractors: Interior design consultants are often asked by their clients to recommend architects, engineers and/or other consultants. They may be responsible for sourcing these professionals, as well as communicating with them throughout the duration of the project. If the client has already chosen these professionals on their own, the interior design consultant may still be asked to communicate with them throughout the duration of the project, on the clients’ behalf.


Real estate consulting and staging: Interior design consultants may help clients remove or repurpose existing items, or introduce new items, in order to help their clients increase the appeal of space to potential buyers. Interior design consultants may also work with realtors to help their clients research and find a home or commercial space that suits their style and needs.



Typical Duties & Responsibilities

• Perform a pre-consultation with client to see if the designer will take on the project

• Prepare samples for the client to view

• Understand what the client wants and needs, and communicate effectively throughout the consulting process

• Formulate design plan, including budget and product sourcing

• Prepare sketches or blueprints, often times using computer aided design software

• Specify the materials, timelines and budget for the proposed project

• Meet with client after project completion to address any concerns and suggest small finishing touches


Interior design consultants that are self-employed must also assume general administrative and management duties in addition to consulting services, such as:


• Marketing and promoting the business

• Directly billing clients

• Collaborating with construction and design companies

• Possibly hiring and supervising assistants and other staff





Certification Needed to Work as an Interior Design Consultant

The certification needed to become an interior design consultant typically varies by region. In some states and provinces, only consultants that are licensed as interior designers or as interior design consultants may do interior design work. In other states and provinces however, both licensed and unlicensed design consultants may do interior design work.


Interior design consultants that work in a capacity that is limited to interior decoration and customer service, which does not involve space remodeling tasks, (such as creating blueprints) they typically do not require any kind of certification.


Typical requirements for becoming certified or licensed as an interior designer or interior design consultant include completion of an accredited degree program, or an equivalent of completed education and work experience, as well as successful completion of an exam.



Crucial Skills to Have

Becoming an interior design consultant requires several years of education and practical training to effectively perform a broad range of duties, from blueprint design to customer service.


Interior design consultants that simply perform customer service and décor related duties typically need the following skills:


• Design imagination, used for selecting décor elements such as furnishings, fabrics and colours

• Freehand drawing skills

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

• Excellent sales ability

• Knowledge of products, materials and architectural history

• Effective communication skills, for working with suppliers, contractors and clients

• Able to work out costs and keep to budgets


Interior design consultants that perform a full-range of design services need additional skills, such as:


• 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

• May require the ability to prepare blueprints and architectural drafts

• Able to effectively read blueprints and architectural plans

• Thorough understanding of local building and safety regulations

• Business and marketing skills, if self-employed



Characteristics of Successful Interior Design Consultants

In order to enjoy performing the duties of an interior design consultant, 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 can lead to having a long and successful career.


• Keen interest in home décor, including furniture, colour, and other interior elements

• Able to work well with different personality types

• Comfortable selling people on ideas or products

• Able to handle professional criticism that may be delivered without tact

• Willing to keep up with industry changes, such as manufacturers’ processes and new materials

• Enjoy doing creative work that involves precision

• Enjoy advising customers and clients

• Customer-centered approach to work activities



Who Creates Jobs for Interior Design Consultants?

Interior design consultants are typically either self-employed (as freelance contractors, or a owners of their own design studio) or as permanent or casual employees of an organization. Permanent and contractual jobs for interior design consultants may be found with the following types of organizations and individuals:


• Architectural firms

• Contractors and homebuilders

• Educational institutions, such as high schools, colleges and universities

• Furniture manufacturers and dealers

• Healthcare facilities, such as hospitals

• Hotels, resorts and restaurants

• Interior design and decoration studios

• Large corporations

• Private individuals

• Property management companies

• Real estate developers

• Retail stores and chains



Job Postings

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




Typical Work Environment

Working Hours: Many interior design consultants work full-time, although the specific time of day they work can vary considerably. Some interior design consultants work regular, weekday working hours, while others may spend a good amount of time working in the evenings and on weekends, such as those who are employed by retailers, such as home improvement stores.


Work Setting: Interior design consultants are often based out of an office, which may be in an office building, in their home, in a retail storefront, or in an office that is part of an industrial building. They may spend time travelling to other offices, design sites, and stores, in order to meet with clients and contractors and shop for materials.


Working Conditions: Interior design consultants often have to deal with the general public, as well as other professionals, such as contractors, architects and engineers. Their work can be highly rewarding, although highly stressful at times, such as when a client is displeased with the progress or result of a project.



Interior Design Consultant Salary Level

The salary level of interior design consultants can vary greatly, typically depending on the following factors:


• Their employment structure (mainly whether or not they are self-employed)

• Their level of education

• Their level of aptitude and the quality of their portfolio

• The size and type of their employer/client

• The region in which they work


Interior Design Consultant Salary Alberta: According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey (the latest information available at the time of writing - February 8, 2020), Albertans working in the Interior Designers 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, the median salary level of American workers in the Interior Designers occupational group is $53,370 per year (May, 2018 figures).



Careers Similar to This One

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


Home Economist

Interior Decorator

Interior Designer

Land Use Planning Advisor

Sales Representative



References: Interior Design Consultant Career Information

Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as an interior design consultant.


Occupations in Alberta:Interior Designer.” (March 30, 2015). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved December 23, 2019.

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

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

Career:The Life of an Interior Design Consultant.” (n.d.). Miami Arts & Design Education website. Retrieved December 23, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming an Interior Design Consultant

Scholarships in Canada and the United States listed for majors that apply to becoming an Interior Design Consultant 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 Design Consultant. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


Top Banner Image: