Career Guide

Interior Designer

Emily Hanson  · Jan 25th 2023

Some interior designers focus on bespoke homes and their main interiors, while others work commercially designing anything from office buildings to hospitals.

Interior Designer

Interior designers combine creative thinking with technical expertise to plan, design and execute interior renovations. Their work can include smaller domestic projects, right through to large commercial spaces.

Interior design graduate jobs

What is an Interior Designer?

As an interior designer you’ll be responsible for the layout, aesthetics, and organisation of internal spaces.

While you don’t need a degree to be an interior designer, it’s helpful.

Your work can vary depending on your interests. The key is having an eye for both functionality and design, listening to your client’s brief and utilising your expertise to create something beautifully efficient. You might work independently as a consultant or contractor, or be part of a wider team of designers and architects.


Your responsibilities will depend on your clients, and whether you work independently or as part of a larger team. There are plenty of common duties, including:

  • Being aware of accessibility needs and ensuring your designs are universally accessible wherever possible.
  • Creating mockups of your design plans, either via technical drawings or using computer aided design.
  • Keeping up to date with interior trends.
  • Liaising with product providers, such as furniture manufacturers, paint or wallpaper companies, or construction firms.
  • Presenting your design plans to your client with sample materials to give plenty of visual reference for your plans.
  • Providing accurate quotes of the work required, ensuring there are a variety of options and being mindful of client budgets.
  • Working collaboratively with other professionals, such as architects, construction managers, and stakeholders.
  • Working directly with clients to develop a detailed brief of the work they want doing - you might be responsible for creating the brief in full, or they may have already shared some specifications with you.

Interior architect jobs


Salaries within the interior design industry vary significantly. Your income will depend on whether you work within a larger organisation, or independently, as well as the type of clients you work for. Luxury home interiors, for example, would have a different fee structure to planning out large scale building projects as part of a salaried role.

Interior stylist jobs combine practical skills with a creative eye.

The average interior designer salary is £36,173 a year. Junior interior design jobs can expect to fetch around the £24,000 mark[1], with their take home pay increasing with their experience. This will be higher if you work in London and large cities, especially if you’re part of an established design firm. Salaries for interior designers within firms can reach £94,000 and beyond.


While you don’t need a degree to be an interior designer, it’s helpful. You’ll usually need 2 to 3 A Levels or equivalents to be considered for an interior design course, as well as an example portfolio of your design work. Several degrees would set you in good stead for a career in interior design:

The focus within your degree study should be building up your portfolio to show your abilities in interior design. This could include sample mock up boards, examples of your technical drawing ability, and proof of budgeting. Courses are likely to support you in finding internships and work placements, which work brilliantly to help you get a foot in the door at established design firms.

Alternatively, you could begin your interior design career with a level 3 course. This could be in Interior Design, or Art and Design. You should build up your portfolio while you study, and aim to secure work placements to fit alongside your qualification. While there isn’t a set interior design apprenticeship, you could search for design apprenticeships or those covering the more technical aspects of interior design, like architecture and carpentry.

Trainee interior design jobs

Training and development

Interior stylist jobs combine practical skills with a creative eye. As a result, a lot of your training and development happens as you take part in different projects. You’re likely to grow more quickly if you’re employed by an established design firm that handles multiple clients, as you’ll be able to take part in multiple projects at once. You could ask to shadow a senior colleague on more challenging projects, to learn best practices from them.

Work experience will be a huge benefit when applying for interior design jobs.

Many interior designers choose to join national bodies. Examples include the British Interior Design Institute and the The Society of British and International Interior Design. Both bodies provide conferences, seminars and training on technical areas of design, giving you an opportunity to build on your expertise and network with colleagues in your field.


The skills you’ll need to be an interior designer combine technical ability with a creative approach. These include:

  • A commitment to accessibility.
  • A good grasp of technology, especially for using CAD software.
  • Ability to work well in a multidisciplinary team - you’ll likely work alongside architects, designers, and potentially construction managers.
  • An eye for design.
  • An understanding of popular products and where to source them - everything from chaise lounges to bathroom wall art.
  • An understanding of safety measures for interior design, especially for when working with large commercial clients.
  • Good budgeting skills.
  • Good drawing ability for creating technical client drawings.
  • Good verbal and written communication skills - you’ll need to report your initial plans to clients and explain technical details in an accessible way.

Interior design trainee jobs

Work Experience

Work experience will be a huge benefit when applying for interior design jobs. It’s particularly important to gather this while you study, as it will bolster any applications and help you with your portfolio. If you’re studying, reach out to your course tutors to see what placement options are available, and make the most of them.

Work experience doesn’t just have to come through an educational institution. It’s well worth reaching out to local firms or independent contractors near you to ask if you can shadow their work, too. If you can get some experience in a design firm, all the better, as you’re likely to see a real variety of projects in a shorter space of time. If you have a particular area of interest within design, such as designing community spaces or domestic design, try and find a firm or contractor who already works in your area and ask to shadow them.

Career Prospects

Interior design jobs are broad and varied. You’ll most likely start work as a junior designer in a larger firm to build up your experience and portfolio, but with the right experience and abilities you can expect to progress through the ranks. You could become a senior designer, or a project manager, overseeing client work and managing newer designers. You could even work internationally in global interiors.

As an interior designer you’ll be responsible for the layout, aesthetics, and organisation of internal spaces.

You could apply to become a Chartered Designer with the Chartered Society of Designers. This would add excellent credibility to your CV, and be of real benefit if you choose to work independently. Many designers decide to go down the freelance interior design route or start up their own firm, giving them the opportunity to pick and choose clients, as well as further pursuing their area of specialism.

You could also sidestep into other areas of design, with the right experience. Some designers choose to specialise in project management, or a particular area of design, like textiles. Equally, some designers enjoy the architectural side of their work, and choose to study for an architecture degree. This would open up further opportunities for work, too.


  • [1]Junior Interior Designer Salaries in United Kingdom — Retrieved 24 August 2022.

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