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Interior Design Careers That Do Not Require a Degree

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If you don't care for the traditional collegiate setting but have a keen eye for what makes a room look “right,” the restrictions imposed in 21 states and the District of Columbia requiring at least an associate degree to take interior design certification tests may be holding you back from fulfilling your interior design dreams. You’re in luck. You have several options in the interior design and decorating field.

Interior Designer

If you live in Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, or Washington, D.C., you’ll need to relocate to one of the states not listed here to pursue a career as an interior designer. Otherwise, pursue a career as an interior designer without ever stepping foot on a college campus. Interior designers decorate commercial and private interior spaces, and many designers also devise the addition and placement of architectural elements and direct construction and remodeling projects. An interior designer meets with clients, adheres to a budget, creates mock-ups, sketches and blueprints of design concepts, checks his work against building and fire codes, sets a timeline for work and oversees the project.

Interior Decorator

Interior decorators work legally under that title in any state, without any formal education, training or certification. Interior decorators typically learn on the job, developing an instinctual “eye.” Often, decorators are limited to making choices only about aesthetic issues such as color palettes, window coverings, fabric types, matching furniture, accessories, artwork, floor and wall coverings, and lighting elements. Like designers, decorators meet with clients, work within a budget and submit sketches to their customers, but unlike designers, they are restricted from completing construction or architectural tasks.

Interior Design Writer

If you string together sentences as well as you coordinate fabrics, writing about the world of interior design may satisfy your design impulse. Writers work all the time without formal schooling, and you can get your feet wet in the interior design genre by starting an interior design blog for free. Once you’ve obtained a readership, shop your writing resume and clips to major design magazines, websites and blogs, or write your own design book. Interior design writers often choose a niche such as high-end decorating, DIY design or decorating for children and teens. The career involves a lot of research time, writing time and self-promotion.

Home Stager

A well-designed room sells much more quickly than a sloppy one, which is why many agents and sellers have recently invested in home stagers to makeover their properties. Home stagers own a stable of attractive, expensive-looking furniture and accessories to shuffle between properties, although some stagers rent everything. Home stagers oversee fast-paced interior face-lifts, network with real estate agents and communicate with sellers who sometimes still inhabit the property.


Katherine Harder kicked off her writing career in 1999 in the San Antonio magazine "Xeriscapes." She's since worked many freelance gigs. Harder also ghostwrites for blogs and websites. She is the proud owner of a (surprisingly useful) Bachelor of Arts in English from Texas State University.