Each month we take a look at one of the 650 career pathways featured within Indigo. This month we’re exploring the role of an Interior Designer.

Susie Harris shares her insight into the role of an Interior Designer with this video career profile from the Indigo Careers module.

So what is an Interior Designer?

Interior designers create specific, coordinated styles for homes, commercial spaces and other buildings.

You will be required to assess spaces, produce detailed designs, be familiar with computer-aided design (CAD) software, and choose suitable materials for the project, which may include upholstery, wallpaper, furniture and decorative objects.

You will need to get a good understanding of the client’s needs and negotiate fees with them. You will provide supervision to ensure that the project is completed accurately and in accordance with the budget and schedule.

Client meetings often occur in the evenings and at weekends. You could be working on several contracts at the same time and tight deadlines can result in overtime.


Your work will be divided between meeting clients in their own premises and working in your studio or other work space.

Type of work

The main employers in this sector are design and architectural firms. However, many designers are self-employed and part-time work is possible.

Smart dress is expected and protective clothing may be required on-site.

Things to consider

Creating original work and seeing your ideas being used in a practical or decorative way is satisfying.

Flexible hours
Working as a freelance designer can result in greater flexibility.

Stressful deadlines/target-driven
Meeting deadlines and budgets can be stressful. 

Little progression opportunity
There is not a clearly recognised path of development through this profession.

Make a difference
You will be able to help people create spaces that work well for them.

Most people have an undergraduate degree and you will need degree previous experience/passion for the field

The preferred route is to take a degree or HND/HNC in interior design, interior architecture or spatial design. Other related subjects are also acceptable. Two relevant A levels/3 H grades and 5 GCSEs/National 5s (C or above, or 4 or above in England) are usually required for degree entry, or 1 A level/H grade and 4 GCSEs/National 5s for HNC/HNDs. Many applicants also complete a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design before applying for higher education. Entrance in the absence of formal qualifications may still be possible for an applicant with relevant experience, enthusiasm and an exceptional portfolio.

Regardless of qualifications held, prior voluntary or part-time work experience is usually imperative to securing full-time employment. Placements will enable you to become familiar with computer design software and build up your portfolio of design work. The British Institute of Interior Design, the Chartered Society of Designers and the Society of British and International Interior Design provide contact details for interior designers that may be useful when looking for work placements.

Some larger companies will offer on the job training in marketing, branding and website creation. Postgraduate courses in interior design can increase your chance of promotion.

Salary progression
A junior/trainee interior designer would usually start on £18,000–£23,000. Those with experience can expect to earn £24,000–£40,000 a year. Senior designers can achieve £45,000 and up. Directors may earn up to £75,000. Freelance designers set their own rate based upon their reputation and experience.

Top Tip
There is no established career structure; however, it is possible to progress to a partner role in a consultancy. Although many interior designers work for design and architectural companies, some are freelance and many choose to start up their own design companies, either immediately after graduation or once they have gained experience. Working for a smaller company can lead to more responsibility than a larger consultancy. The UK industry has an excellent international reputation so you could work overseas.

Click here to explore the full library of over 650 career profiles, including multimedia content and LMI data for students to interpret and discuss.