Part 2: QUESTIONS every interior design student should ask UPON GRADUATION

There are so many questions interior design students and recent graduates have. Well I’ve found a wonderful source that taps into a wealth of knowledge that I am so excited to share it with you.

The Interior Design Community (IDC) is a social media network just for interior design professionals. Their mission “is to connect designers and give them a space to get advice from their peers, to find information about products, to support them through the difficult situations they face day to day”.

This series of articles highlights some of the best questions and answers for design students and those just graduating.  Part 1 is geared towards student internships and mentoring, Part 2 answers questions for recent graduates looking for employment in a design office and Part 3 addresses what it’s like for up and coming designers in the industry.

The 5 questions are:

  1. How did you get your first client
  2.  We want to know a general idea of how much design assistants mak
  3. Are professional design associations and organizations worth the investment? What are some of the things you like or dislike about them?
  4. I’ve studied in design and worked in it for over 6 years but i don’t have nciq or apdiq certifications. Was wondering if those who took it, if it was worth it?”
  5.  Is sexism still a problem in the interior design industry?

1. How did you get your first client?

attitude.design: I advertised way back in a local magazine

maciainteriors: A friend trusted and believed in my skills. Forever grateful

dalecarithers: A referral from someone I met at an event and we started following each other on social media.

Webbsmithinteriors: At a cocktail party! Met a business owner who was expanding. We bid the job, did a vision session and nailed it!

Kristykaydesign: My neighbor

Jessicaboudreaux: Craigslist actually and she was a great client!

Interiorsbyjustdesign: It was through another interior designer they were busy and they wanted to stay local was a great first client for me

Fitteddesigns: A true friend trusted me and understands my passion for interior designing and introduced me to her Sister’s in-law . I did a fantastic job and used most of the pictures for my beginner presentation which fetched me lot of clients afterwards. @funke_s thanks a bunch for being such a wonderful friend

Davidwdesign: My First Client is my Dentist & asked to me to Design his office which ended up being two properties side by side valued $2.5 million Reno Design. & yeah I was a whole lot nervous 😬

Vividinteriors: My first client came from Craigslist. Crazy enough I actually found some great clients and projects on there 😉

Abuelapeaz: It was a friend’s first apartment in NYC…he’s still one of my biggest advocates. I wish I could hire him to do my PR! 😂

Ricallison: Teachers/professors hired me ASAP

2. Is sexism still a problem in the interior design industry?

lala_takes_pics: Weeeeelllll….yes. I find I just expect it so much from trades that I (sadly) just think of it as normal.

Shapirojoyalstudio: Yes

winklepie_pics_life: Yes, to a point! But being strong minded and knowing what your talking about changes their mind 😆🤗

jjonesdesignco: Yes. Many interior design firms I know tend to hire women over men. That’s why you see so few male interior designers for these firms. 🙁 I believe in equality.

kendrakaydesignI was the only female in the design firm I originally worked in- only males were hired

tawnaallred: Definite yes from the construction trades. However, even though my voice is quiet, I stick to my guns and they finally realize I’m not someone to mess with. Finding friendlier crews makes the difference between a fun job and jobs from hell.

chinoiserie_galore: Honey, Sexism is still a problem in ANY industry..PERIOD!

calebrhodes23: As a Builder its our responsibility to lead everyone on the job site to abandon stereotypical ideas of what a Designer should look like and talk like. We don’t allow our crews to have bad attitudes around designers, Architects, or owners. The more eyes on a project, the better! After all, we are here for them.

Kristynschultz: Yes. I work in the architecture/interior design field as a draftsperson and my firm appears to make an attempt at equality but sexism definitely plays a major role.

Victoriatuckerinteriors: Hmmm, If I were a foot taller and were a Mr., I wonder if trades would hear me the first time… For me, truthfully, the trades are usually wonderful. It’s getting the builders and site foremen to thoughtfully consider my input beyond specs and color schemes.

victoriatuckerinteriors@interiordesigncommunity: Sometimes ideas come up, small changes would improve design or function, but builders will have the mindset of “it’s fine like it is, don’t mention to homebuyer.” I’m not referring to expensive change orders, just tweaking. I feel like less of a teammate when timeline or the easy way wins over my fine tuning on a job. I, too, am vested in the timeline and profitability. The fine details are why I’m there. I don’t like being made to feel like I need to be a “quiet, obedient girl.” I may not know all the framing code, but for damn sure I can spot a dozen things that will make the home a joy or a nuisance at a glance. Not sure if it would be different if I were a man, or if I wasn’t ‘only the designer.’

3. Are professional design associations and organizations worth the investment? What are some of the things you like or dislike about them?

ajc_design: ASID was a waste of money for me. The events weren’t strong in NYC. I get more out of NEWH a nonprofit organization and IIDA.

Simplesquaredesign: It depends. It is worth it from a national perspective as a recognizable name like a brand (same reason people prefer brand names for goods), but most importantly is what the local chapter does – speaker, Lunch & Learn, study groups, etc.

Lauraboisvert: Nope. No one even knows what they mean. And they don’t care. They care about your portfolio and whether your personality and theirs hit it off when meeting. Business is about selling and closing deals. You’re either a good salesman or you’re not.

Mdorydesigns: For national organizations, it depends on the chapter. I personally would like to see IIDA and ASID combine. There is more than enough advocacy work and consumer education/marketing to be done to keep both current national offices busy.

Interiordesigncommunity: I do think the right organization can bring you closer… Designing can be pretty solitary and it helps to check in with peers when you have a question or issue… I’m not sure if the big organizations are giving updated info or not. What WOULD be helpful to you?

lauraboisvert: I don’t need organizations to connect with peers. I don’t believe in paying money to network. It’s counterintuitive. I build relationships with all my contacts and peers when we text daily, or meet for coffee or breakfast on occasion. These are people I met on my own time by calling them or emailing and saying “hey, I would like to meet you!” Cause of Twitter or their website-Or people I work with on a regular basis.

catherine_mcroberts: I would guess between $12 & 25/ hour!

Nataliereddell: Mine makes $20/hour. She just started and I live in Richmond, VA.

Jedijanuary: I pay mine $17 w/ medical & dental benefits. designer and decorator assistant. Hope it helped.

Serenitydesign: I have two , my junior assistant was getting 42000 with a raise coming up , but he wanted 50 so now he’s gone

Houseofdietrich: 17 per hr here in Boston. 42k with benni’s would likely be the highest I would go to and they would need to be very self motivated and efficient at that rate.

Megmichele: $15 / hr plus benefits…. In North FL.

Officialkellyoneal: The sky is the limit in this industry, but you have to have a very good work ethic to achieve top $’s. I’ve always included commission incentives as the billable hours and placement aspects of the trade are the bottom line.

Mjgdf: NOT ENOUGH! Lol.

brandnyuAZ: approx$10-$15/hr for design assistant. Up to $20/hr for an over the top one. No benefits.

4. What is the salary range for an interior designer in your area?

playworksdecorApproximately $15,960 yearly 😳omg!

tawnaallredIf: I can get my earnings in the 40K range it is a good year. I’ve had years around 7K. #justbeinghonest. I am very rural though and know I am fighting a different battle than many others.

kristin_emily31I: just started post college with a small commercial and residential firm here in CT at 40k but they don’t have any benefits. In undergrad the average salary was 45k in early 2000’s 😯 we totally need to come together we designers are worth more !! Also I know 40k sounds nice but in CT it is really not much at all especially with no benefits and student loans and a wedding 😖😖😖

jwana2021: 64k per year excluding bounces Doha Qatar. I work for real estate developer

jsbeauchampdesign: 65$ to 175$ an hour (can). + % sometimes from what I have gathered

tawnaallred@amare.housedesign: I think I have my prices in the right spot, but the jobs are so few and far between. I average 1-3 design jobs a year and it has been that way since I started 8 years ago. Sometimes one job will be 40K. Most are 3-5K, one room deals (usually kitchens when people get in over their heads).

Omforme: In my area, designers make anywhere between $90-$200hr with an average of $135hr overall. Of course there are a few superstars that make more. But question is how do you define success? Some designers are part time and others are voracious in their goals. Wouldn’t that determine your success quotient?

5. I’ve studied in design and worked in it for over 6 years but I don’t have NCIQ or APDIQ certifications. Was wondering if those who took it, if it was worth it?”

Jillkalmaninteriors: If you want to do commercial design or in residential if you want to redesign – moving walls etc and be responsible for construction then yes-

Meredithheron: Cities have different codes of what will and won’t pass and these are always changing.

Weaferdesign: I took the NCIDQ, the company I was working for paid for it at the time. If licensing happens in my state I would be qualified in. I think it validates your profession, because you deal with life safety codes. The difference between a decorator and a designer.

Meredithheron: In Toronto we need a BCIN Number to stamp drawings. City course. We prefer to run our drawings past our architectural draftsman who has had his BCiN for decades as he has an in at the city. Our drawings get reviewed before submission and we can make revisions at no additional cost should the be required. Knowing the code as we do we still have the craziest of city loopholes to overcome. Each inspector has their own “must haves”. I’ve seen many accredited designers spin their wheel up against the city despite the letters after their names.

Designlineworks: I think it all depends on which lane you are in. If you want to work in commercial, yes. For residential not always. I don’t care what they call me so long as they call me.

Klyndsay: The majority of provincial Interior Design associations (such as ARIDO) require members to complete their NCIDQ within a certain number of years after registering as an intern member. Once you pass NCIDQ you can become a registered member and use the term ‘Interior Designer’ as per the titles act. They are trying to protect the industry from people who loosely use the term and getting credit for it. I personally think it’s a valuable exam especially for young professionals because it covers all aspects of interior design not just universal codes.

Interiordesignsbytracy: @domooredesigns to learn more in depth the national building codes, and also in commercial design some clients demand for that.

Domooredesigns: @interiordesignsbytracy the NCDIQ tests you knowledge. Do you have a design degree? If you want to do commercial design or work for a firm then yes, most require you to be certified.

Interiordesignsbytracy: @domooredesigns yes I do have a design degree, I’ve done 4 commercial projects. But I feel for restaurant design clients always ask!

Delointeriors: Yes, definitely worth it in my opinion! We have the titles act in Ontario and it allows you to call yourself and Interior Designer. If you don’t take it your considered an Intern Interior Designer until you qualify.

adg_lights: it is worth understanding the difference between design and decorating, business and support that the trades provide to support the designers ideas…. a certificate is just wall art otherwise.!

Teresammorgandesigns: Absolutely!!

Slshomeinteriors: I think any time you have the opportunity to strengthen and broaden your skills through education, it’s a win for everyone involved – no matter what path you choose: advanced degrees or further accreditations.

Liddlelizzie: Yes! It speaks to your professionalism.

Allisongambadesign: I think it is good to have but not necessary. I got my start in this business by renovating and flipping homes in my town, I was on Wall Street and did the designs on the side and had my architect draft construction plans. I went to school at night to further my skills but in order to take the exam I need more credits. I have a BSBA from a major university so to get a full interior design degree is a waste for me because I already have an undergrad. I have now transitioned to do this full time and just don’t have the time at this point to fit in the schooling. I think if you don’t have it you should really align yourself with educated people and use them for the areas that you are unsure of. I have learned a ton from my architect, contractor, and even from the local trade showroom that I source furniture from. Someday I will get my license but for now, I have yet to have a client who asks for it.

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