Entry-Level Interior Design Job: Essential Skills
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 8 min read


  1. Acquaint with Computer-Aided Design (CAD)
  2. Develop skills in creating design concepts
  3. How to apply color theory
  4. Why communication skills matter
  5. Acquire knowledge of materials and fabrics
  6. Gain experience with project management
  7. Familiarize with current design trends

If you're curious about what skills are needed for an entry-level interior design job, you've come to the right place. The world of interior design is a colorful, creative, and exciting one, but to step into it with confidence, there are certain skills you'll need to master. These skills not only help you make spaces beautiful but also functional and comfortable. So, let's dive in and explore these skills together, shall we?

Acquaint with Computer-Aided Design (CAD)

First up on our list of skills for an entry-level interior design job is getting to know Computer-Aided Design, or as the cool kids call it, CAD. This is a powerful tool that allows you to create detailed, three-dimensional designs on your computer. You might be thinking, "Sounds complicated!" But don't worry, it's not as scary as it sounds, and the best part? It can help you bring your design ideas to life in a precise and realistic way. So, let's break down why CAD is so important:

  • Visualize your designs: With CAD, you can easily create and tweak your designs. You can change colors, move furniture, and even see how different lighting conditions affect your space. It's like having a mini-version of your design project right on your computer screen!
  • Share your ideas: CAD files are easy to share with clients or team members. They can see exactly what you're envisioning, which can save you a lot of time and potential misunderstandings.
  • Make accurate measurements: CAD helps you make precise measurements. This can be a lifesaver when it comes to ordering materials or fitting furniture into a space.

So, if you're asking yourself what skills are needed for an entry-level interior design job, getting acquainted with CAD should definitely be on your to-do list. It might take some time and practice, but trust me, it's worth it. And who knows, you might even have some fun along the way!

Develop skills in creating design concepts

Now that you've gotten your feet wet with CAD, let's move on to another vital skill for an entry-level interior design job: creating design concepts. This might sound a bit vague, so allow me to clarify. Design concepts are like blueprints for your projects. They map out what you want to do in a space, from the color scheme to the furniture layout, and everything in between.

But here's the kicker: creating a design concept isn't just about making a room look pretty (although that's certainly part of it). It's about creating a space that works for the people who will be using it. So how do you do that? Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Understand your client's needs: This is the first and most important step. You need to know what your client wants and needs from the space. Are they looking for a cozy reading nook or a sleek home office? Do they have kids or pets to consider? All these factors will influence your design concept.
  2. Create a mood board: This is a great way to gather your ideas and inspirations. You can include images, color swatches, fabric samples, and anything else that helps to convey your vision. It's also a great tool to share with your client to make sure you're on the same page.
  3. Plan the layout: Once you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve, you can start planning the layout. This involves deciding where to place furniture and other elements to create a functional and harmonious space.

So, remember, when you're wondering what skills are needed for an entry-level interior design job, don't forget about the art of creating design concepts. It's a skill that blends creativity with practicality, and it's at the heart of every successful interior design project.

How to apply color theory

What's the first thing you notice when you walk into a room? For most of us, it's probably the color. That's why understanding and applying color theory is a must-have skill for anyone looking to land an entry-level interior design job. But don't worry, it's not as complicated as it sounds! Let's break it down.

Color theory is about understanding how different colors work together and the impact they can have on a space. Are you going for a calm and relaxing atmosphere? Soft blues and greens might be the way to go. Want to inject some energy into a room? Bold, vibrant colors like reds or yellows can do the trick. It's all about creating the right mood and feeling.

Here are some tips to help you apply color theory in your designs:

  1. Start with a color wheel: This is a tool that shows the relationships between colors. It can help you to choose a harmonious color scheme for your design. For example, colors that are next to each other on the wheel (like blue and green) create a relaxing, harmonious effect. Colors that are opposite each other (like blue and orange) create contrast and excitement.
  2. Consider the room's function: The function of the room should inform your color choices. For example, a bedroom might benefit from calming colors, while a home office might need a more energizing scheme.
  3. Don't forget about neutrals: Neutrals are the unsung heroes of interior design. They can provide balance and allow your accent colors to shine without overwhelming the space.

So, when you're pondering what skills are needed for an entry-level interior design job, make sure color theory is on your list. It's not just about choosing pretty colors—it's about choosing the right colors to convey the right mood and function for the space.

Why communication skills matter

Let’s switch gears a bit. What if I told you that being a successful interior designer is not just about being a wizard with colors, fabrics, and trends? It’s true! One of the key skills you need for an entry-level interior design job is good old-fashioned communication. Surprised? Let me explain.

Interior design is not a solo job. You'll be working with all sorts of people—clients, contractors, suppliers, and more. And each of these people speaks a different "language". Your clients might not know a chevron from a herringbone, while your contractors live and breathe technical lingo. Translating between these languages is part of your job.

Here's a couple of reasons why good communication skills are so important:

  1. Understanding client visions: Every client you work with will have a vision for their space. It’s your job to understand that vision—even when they can't quite put it into words themselves. That’s where your listening skills come in handy.
  2. Sharing your ideas: Once you've understood your client's vision, it's time to share your design ideas. This requires clear, concise communication. You need to explain your concepts in a way that your client can understand and get excited about.
  3. Coordinating with others: From contractors to suppliers, you'll need to coordinate with a lot of people to bring your designs to life. Clear communication can help to prevent misunderstandings and keep everything running smoothly.

So, when considering what skills are needed for an entry-level interior design job, don't forget about communication. It's not just about making things look good—it's about making sure everyone is on the same page to turn those good-looking designs into a reality.

Acquire knowledge of materials and fabrics

Did you ever think that shopping for curtains or picking out a sofa could be considered research? Well, in the world of interior design, it is! When you're just starting out in interior design, one thing you need to focus on is becoming a bit of a materials and fabrics guru.

Think about it. When you walk into a room, what catches your eye? Is it the silk curtains cascading down the windows or the plush velvet sofa that looks oh-so-inviting? These are the elements that can make or break a room, and they're all about materials and fabrics.

Now, you might be wondering, "What should I know about materials and fabrics?" Here are some key points:

  1. Types of materials: From silk and cotton to leather and linen, there are so many different types of materials out there. Each one has its own look, feel, and care requirements. So, you need to understand them all.
  2. Fabrics and their uses: Not all fabrics are created equal. Some are durable and perfect for a bustling family room, while others are delicate and better suited for a quiet study. Knowing when to use each type of fabric is a must.
  3. Combining textures: Mixing and matching different materials and fabrics can create a unique, layered look. But it's not just about throwing any two things together. You need to understand which combinations work and why.

So, in your quest to discover what skills are needed for an entry-level interior design job, don't overlook the world of materials and fabrics. It's a big part of what makes a design feel complete, and it's a lot of fun, too!

Gain experience with project management

Imagine you're given a box of puzzle pieces, but you don't have the picture on the front of the box to guide you. Sounds intimidating, right? This is what project management can feel like in an interior design job, especially at the beginning. But don't fret; it's a skill you can learn and master over time.

When you're working on an interior design project, you're not just playing with colors and materials. You're also managing time, budget, and people. And each of these elements can be as tricky as a corner piece of a jigsaw puzzle.

So, what does project management involve in an interior design job? Here's a quick rundown:

  1. Planning: Every good design project starts with a plan. You need to figure out what you're doing, why you're doing it, and how you're going to get it done.
  2. Organizing: Once you've got your plan, you need to put everything in order. This includes tasks, materials, and people. It's like creating your own picture for that puzzle box.
  3. Guiding: As the project manager, you're the one guiding your team towards the finished project. This means making decisions, solving problems, and keeping everyone motivated along the way.

While project management might seem a little daunting, it's a vital skill needed for an entry-level interior design job. Just think of it as the glue that holds all the other skills together. And remember, like any puzzle, it gets easier the more you do it!

Have you ever noticed how some rooms just seem more 'now' than others? Like they've jumped straight out of a magazine or your favorite home design show? That's because they're following the latest design trends. And if you're wondering what skills are needed for an entry-level interior design job, keeping up with these trends is definitely one of them.

Why, you ask? Well, just as fashion trends influence what we wear, design trends influence how our homes and offices look. They give us fresh ideas, inspire creativity, and can even make a space feel more comfortable or functional. So, being familiar with current trends helps you create designs that are stylish, relevant, and appealing to your clients.

So, how can you stay up-to-date with current design trends? Here are some tips:

  1. Read design magazines and blogs: These are great sources of inspiration and often showcase the latest trends.
  2. Follow designers on social media: Many designers share their work on platforms like Instagram, giving you a real-time look at what's trending.
  3. Attend design shows and expos: These events are where new trends often debut. They're also a great opportunity to network with other designers.

Remember, though, that while trends can guide your designs, they shouldn't dictate them. Your job is to create spaces that reflect your clients' tastes and needs, not just what's 'in'. After all, a truly great design is timeless.

If you're starting your career in interior design and want to develop the essential skills to excel in an entry-level job, check out Karen Oldhoven's workshop 'Create Your Brand Inside & Out.' This workshop will provide you with valuable insights and practical tips on how to establish a strong foundation for a successful interior design career.