The interiors of homes and buildings across the United States are well-dressed and looked after by approximately 10,000 interior design companies that bring in revenues of around $8 billion each year. Average salaries for interior designers in May 2008 were $44,950 according to the United States Department of Labor. To capture a piece of the interior design pie for yourself, you can learn the field through programs led by industry experts or self-paced study on your own.
Take an adult education course, which is short term, may be held in the evening and usually does not require prior interior design experience or any kind of education. Try one of the courses at the New York University School of Continuing Studies; for example, “Instant Interior Design,” “Interior Design Industry,” “Presentation Techniques for Interior Designers,” “Tiny Apartment, Quick Makeover,” “Lighting for Interior Designers,” “Color and Pattern in Interior Design” and “Fundamental Principles of Interior Design.”
Pick up an introductory textbook, such as “Home Decorating for Dummies,” by Katherine Kaye McMillan and Patrician Hart McMillan, “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Decorating Basics Illustrated” by Mary Ann Young, “Interior Design for Idiots” by Mark McCauley or “The Art of Interior Design” by Suzanne Woloszynska. Be sure to choose a book with lots of color illustration and step-by-step guides for each room.
Visit an interior design organization website, such as the American Society of Interior Designers. These groups offer lists of interior designers in your area who you may be able to ask about serving as a mentor or apprentices. Groups’ websites also offer online or downloadable educational seminars and links to interior design schools.
Enroll in an associate (two years) or bachelor’s (four years) program in interior design. These college degree programs are offered by colleges across the country and are also available through distance learning. During your program, you’ll learn topics such as history of furniture and interiors, advanced perspective drawing, residential design, materials and textiles, lighting design, sketching and rendering, construction materials and interior environments. These programs require students to take some general education classes as well, such as English and sociology. A high school diploma or GED is required to apply.
Review websites offering examples of good or bad interior design, such as Smashing Buzz. Compare their opinions with your own, see what you like or don't like about the images and brainstorm how you'd rearrange the design work if it was your project.