A Comprehensive Guide to Joining the Interior Design Industry with Support from SBID 14th June 2022 | IN DESIGN STUDENTS | BY SBID

Interior designing is a good career for many, but you may be confused and curious about how to get into it. If you are considering a career in this area, you will need to know a few things about getting started. This guide will cover what you need, from interior designer accreditation to interior design tools and skills.

What Does an Interior Designer Do?

Quite simply, an interior designer is responsible for planning the layout and décor of a building’s interior environments. They can also implement the design scheme themselves or with a team of experts to supervise procurement and handle the project management for completion.

On a daily basis as an interior designer, you may be meeting with your clients to talk about their project needs and wants. You can then work on a design proposal that not only looks amazing and meets their requirements, but fits it to their available budget and timeline.

Once you have an idea of the desired design style, you can create mood boards with material selections and colour schemes, as well as some initial sketches to show the client. This is where you can discuss the design with them, and make any adjustments as needed. You’ll likely do quite a lot of maths, as you determine the costs involved and scope out the quantity of materials. When the client has approved the design, you can then create more detailed drawings.

Now it’s time to turn to the computer and create more accurate visualisations of your preliminary drawings, working on the changes requested and creating a space that they will love! You’ll also need to source your suppliers for all the products and materials you’ve included in the design – this can include wallcoverings, flooring, fittings, furniture, bespoke joinery, and art.

As an interior designer, you will find yourself working at home, in an office or studio, and even with your client at their place of home or business.

How to Start with Interior Design

There are a few ways to begin the journey of becoming a professional interior designer and they each have their own pros and cons. There’s no one right way, since everyone and their circumstances are different, but you’ll need to determine what will work best for you.


If you can go to university, the recommended route to professional practice is to study a degree in interior design. However, there are other creative courses which can compliment a career in interior design too – you can take classes in architecture, furniture design, spatial design, interior architecture, textile design or fine art, as these tend to overlap with the interior design field.

While going to university may be the most effective method of becoming an interior designer, it doesn’t suit everyone. Education and training can come in many forms, and you may prefer to learn another way. However, many people do go on to get their Master’s in interior design to further fine tune their taught knowledge and expertise, so it’s mainly a matter of personal preference.


You may choose to get a diploma in interior design. These courses tend to give you a head start and may lead to going on to university in the future. Here, you’ll find less intensive courses which is a great way to gain a foundational understanding of interior design practices, as well as the skills and knowledge you require. These courses can also help you decide whether or not to pursue higher education and continue to develop your career in interior design.


Another good option which can assist with your training as an interior designer, is to do an apprenticeship. This essentially means you work for a designer who is already established in the field, so you can learn from them as you go. It’s a great way to learn on the job and get a real insight into the day-to-day role and responsibilities of an interior designer, but it does require some self-starting skills. You’ll often receive nothing or a very minimal salary to complete an apprenticeship, so it’s important to choose the right person to be an apprentice to. You will need to select someone who is willing to teach, and not just looking for free or cheap labour!


In some cases, you may be able to take an entry level job as a design assistant and then work your way up from there. However, you may be be competing with more qualified candidates, so we recommend engaging in supporting design studies and training opportunities before entering the field to improve your chances of success! Depending on the size of the company, it can be quite difficult to progress, but you will gain invaluable working experience and learning opportunities as part of a professional design team. For those who cannot afford to take the time to study, this may be a good way to increase your earnings and learn at the same time while you get your foot in the door!

It’s best to let the designer know that you ultimately aspire to be an interior designer. This will allow them to determine how they can best support you in your professional development, and tailor your role to help you move forward in your career. You may also have access to additional learning opportunities provided as part of your employment. Whether you’ve acquired your diploma, degree or completed an apprenticeship, working in the field is the best way build that all-important experience as a practicing professional and will form an essential part of your training as an interior designer.

What Skills Will You Need?

Not everyone can become a successful interior designer. You need to have the creative ability, holistic vision, and knack for bringing different components together to create a cohesive look. Many people cannot manage this, which makes it difficult to learn what they need to do. Some skills are just necessary in order to become a high-quality interior designer.

Creativity: This is a primarily creative career path, and one that you will need to be creative in. If you’re going to be successful, you must be able to look at things around you and turn them into inspiration for the interiors you want to design. Courses can teach you about design disciplines and techniques so you can learn what the rules are and when you can break or bend them, but first, you have to have that seed of creativity inside you.

Attention to Detail: While it’s important to have a holistic approach to see the bigger picture, you must be able to focus on the smallest of details. This is what makes a professional designer work so well – they can consider factors that others would simply over look. With so many different elements and design considerations needed to curate an effective interior design solution, from door hinges and switch covers to the placement of a chair. They see all the little things that will take a room from ordinary to incredible. It’s often the tiniest details that truly make an interior special.

Computer Skills: Do you know how to use design tools and software proficiently? Technology has become a major part of interior design in recent years. While some people prefer to hand sketch their designs, they will likely need to be translated digitally into computer generated images (CGI) to create more powerful design presentations for clients. With the increase in virtual reality and 3D modelling, it’s important to stay up to date with the latest innovations to remain competitive in your field. Fortunately, these are skills that can be learned and taught.

Communication Skills: Can you convey your ideas easily to someone else? If you’re better at drawing up your ideas than communicating them with potential clients, this is something you will need to improve as you learn to work with other people. Not only is it important to be able to articulate your design decisions and explain them to clients, you will also have to be able to communicate with contractors and your team members. This is a career that requires a lot of interpersonal communications, so you’ll need to be good at talking to people and conveying your ideas. Communication will play a vital role in building business relationships with customers, suppliers, tradesmen and wider design teams.

Critical Thinking: You’ll also need to be able to use reason and critical thinking skills. Some clients can be challenging and, in these cases, you must be able to work with their needs to come to a resolution. Often, there will be problems that need to be solved or unforeseen issues that arise on site, and again, your thinking and reasoning skills will be tested greatly.

Organisation: It’s best for interior designers to be organised as they manage a project’s procurement. They will be responsible for planning orders and deliveries, so they need to know exactly when their vendors are arriving and have the timeline mapped out carefully. Coordinating everyone and all the products can be stressful, especially when the deadlines are tight and you’re on a budget! However, it can be very rewarding if you are highly organised and adaptable when it comes to dealing with unexpected delays.

Some of these skills can be taught, while others can be honed. However, if you’re lacking in any of these areas, you’ll find the job a more difficult so it’s important to make sure you’re willing to advance your skillset where needed to maximise your potential for success!

What to Expect from a Career in Interior Design

The pay can vary drastically. On average, you can look to achieve a salary between £25,000 and £75,000, depending on your level of experience and reputation as a designer. If you’re starting with a job or an apprenticeship in interior design, you should be aware that it will take a lot of time before you’re ready to on-board and manage your own paying clients and their projects. When you are ready, setting up your own interior design business can be a rewarding venture both individually and financially.

As an ever-evolving industry, you must be prepared to put in the effort to continue working on your professional development and be prepared for a path of lifelong learning. During your time working in the field, it’s important that you get as much experience as possible so you can begin to build up your design portfolio. You can also try your hand at designing your own home, and even helping friends and family with their design projects!

Why You Should Join SBID

The Society for British and International Interior Design is an interior design body that is internationally recognised. It’s important to have support from an organisation like this, particularly when you are just starting out in the field.

Students can join for free while taking accredited interior design courses and recent graduates are eligible for associate level accreditation as they progress to full accredited status! SBID Accredited Designers have a better chance at gaining new clients and building their reputation. This is thanks to a package of promotion, networking, events, and industry opportunities presented by the interior design body, with an online directory of designers. With the support of the SBID behind you, you’ll find it easier to learn about the latest industry news, product designs, trends and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) training for interior design.

A career in interior design can be very rewarding and you’ll find that it is a good opportunity to be creative, but it does require ongoing training and a professional commitment to providing quality design services. While you need to be a business person as well, you can really let your artistic side spread its wings.

Interested in learning more? Find out how SBID can help you achieve your dreams. If you’re looking for an interior designer, check out our Designer Directory of accredited interior designers.