Interior designers are those who make indoor spaces both functional and attractive. As an interior designer, you’re not required to choose a specialty, but it can be to your advantage to find a niche. Your niche doesn’t have to be a particular type of structure. It can be a particular type of customer, such as young couples, or a budget, such as luxury interiors. While you’re in college, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about many different areas and approaches. Keeping the possibility of choosing a niche in mind doesn’t mean narrowing your focus while in school but making sure you are as open to possibilities as you can be to choose the path that’s right for you.
Some aspiring interior designers may feel discouraged by the cost of college. At minimum, you usually need a bachelor’s degree. However, there are many different ways you can get money for college, including scholarships, grants and loans. Taking on student loan debt can be scary, but keep in mind that the reward will be a much higher salary over your lifetime as well as the satisfaction of working in the field of your choice. Whether or not you qualify for federal student loans, you should also look into what private lenders can offer. Most students don’t even know that there are ways to get a lower interest rate on student loans, regardless of whether they’re federal and private. Check with your local bank as well as online lenders for interest rates on private student loans.
Niche or Not?
While you are in school, you may begin to notice that you have a particular aptitude for or interest in certain types of projects. This is one good reason to choose a specialty: it plays to your strengths. While it can be exciting to work on many different types of projects, the constant need to switch gears can be exhausting. An interior design specialty allows you to truly become an expert in one area. This also means that over time, you will develop a better understanding of what your clients want. You may also find it easier to market yourself than you would if you were a generalist. With all this in mind, if your temperament is such that you are happier with a lot of change, choosing a niche is probably not for you. It could lead to stagnation and boredom instead of success. A compromise could be having three or four areas that you specialize in.
Once you’ve begun taking classes, you’ll learn that there is far more to interior design than simply creating residential or commercial spaces. Some professionals focus specifically on retail while others work on lighting whatever the space is. Interior design is not just about the places we live and work. Planes, yachts and RVs need interior designers as well. Some designers may work on exhibits in many different capacities, including trade shows, museums or even fashion shows. One thing to think about while you are in school is which of these specialties play to your particular strengths. For example, you need strong model and CAD skills to succeed in working with exhibits.