The 10 Levels of Interior Designer and What Education You Need for Each

Today I’m going to be talking about the various types of “interior designers” and how you can set your intention for the designer “level” that you wish to achieve.

First, let’s define what I mean by level.


A better way to put this is probably, what type of interior designer would you like to be?


The design and decoration of interiors covers a spectrum.  From designers who focus purely on the aesthetic details all the way to those who deal with large-scale structural design, if you love interior design, there are one or several choices that may appeal to you.


INTERIOR DESIGN CATEGORYEducation RequiredNumber of years
Hobbyist DecoratorNoN/A 
Professional DecoratorSome training useful0-1
Furniture or other Industry SpecialistSome training sometimes required0-3
Home Styling and Renovation ExpertSometimes0-3
Professional Home stagerSome training useful0-1
Residential Interior DesignerSometimes0-3
Commercial Interior DesignerUsually expected or required3-4
Exhibition or Set DesignerYes or some training required0-3
Architectural Firm Interior DesignerYes3-4
Architectural Firm Interior ArchitectYes3-4

This list is not exactly exhaustive, since there are various other niches for people who design for a living (such as landscape, urban, marine or highly specialized aerospace or military designers, etc.) that are worth being aware of.  However, given that the topic is interior design, I’m sticking with mostly interior applications.


It’s worthwhile finding out a little bit more about any of the categories you may not be familiar with in order to be able to make an informed decision about which to weed out.

While figuring out what you want to do is not exactly rocket science, getting down to the brass tacks about the type of designer you want to be requires a little knowledge of yourself, how the industry works and an understanding of your goals.  


Here are some questions you might want to mull over:

  • How far do you want to go in your pursuit of becoming a designer?  How long do you want to spend on learning design?
  • Are you interested only in designing or also the business side of things?
  • Are you passionate about design?  What about architecture?
  • Is interior design something you have only a passing or a mild interest in? Is it something you would like to learn as a hobby?  
  • Is interior design what you are going for or do you have something more along the lines of decorating in mind?  
  • Are you looking to become a licensed professional?  
  • Do you want to go to school? Full time or part time?  
  • Are you interested in studying from home?
  • What type of setting would you like to work in eventually?
  • Do you see yourself working in a big studio with a lot of other designers working on large-scale projects? –Or would you rather strike out on your own, Million Dollar Decorators style?
  • Do you want to do residential type work or commercial?
  • Are you interested in a particular niche like offices or resorts?
  • What is it that drew you to the interior design field in the first place?
  • Do you want to be an entrepreneur?
  • Would you like to work out of your home?
  • Do you want to be your own boss?

If you don’t have the answers to these questions right off the bat, don’t worry.  You don’t have to make your mind up right this minute.  However, doing a little digging, research and even some soul-searching will really help when it comes to putting your plan for becoming an interior designer into action.


Here are some reasons you should start learning about the different types of interior design opportunities out there:

  1. Knowing all the options helps you stay realistic about what you want to do
  2. Understand the various types of designers and the requirements that come with various types of design work 
  3. Understand what it will take to get to where you want to go so that you can prepare
  4. Understand what some of the less enjoyable legalities of the interior design industry are
  5. Niche down and focus on what’s right for you
  6. Have a goal that keeps you accountable to your vision for becoming a designer

If all of this seems overwhelming, don’t be afraid to start small and increase your knowledge base and abilities as you go.  

  • It’s possible, for example, to take a short decorating course before committing to any more.  
  • Take on a project and document the experience, including what you loved and hated about it.  
  • Read up on your favorite designers and see how they got where they are.

Interior design is a truly wonderful and broad profession with a lot of opportunities in each sphere and moreover a ton of potential for diversification.

Don’t let being a newbie put you off becoming an interior designer!  There’s a reason that you are reading this, and that reason is that on some level you want this.

Go for it!

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  1. Pingback: Who Should Study Interior Design? – DESIGN BADDIES

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