Hi Cela - great question! And, Deb - great article!
Cela, I am a Certified Interior Decorator. The good thing about the interior decorating field is it is open to many different avenues of work. Many people think it's about going into people's homes and decorating them and that's it. But, there are other areas of work as well, including working in fabric stores like Calico Corners or furniture stores or even big departments stores where you specialize as a window treatment consultant, etc.
You can also work for a decorating firm or open up a private practice. Then there are decorating franchises like Decor and You and Interiors by Decorating Den that you can join. These are expensive, though, so if money is an issue, I wouldn't recommend it as a first choice. But, they are worth exploring to know your options. I work as a freelance writer sharing decorating advice, but also am setting up my own retail business specializing in artistic decorative furnishings.
You've probably heard of interior redesign and staging. This can be done as a decorator and it is a very hot business to get into right now. Especially staging when the real estate market is so slow...people need help setting up their homes to sell.
So, you see the variety of options are limitless.
Basically, it is like any other job...there are learning curves and you get out of it what you put into it from most respects.
You can earn a degree in Interior Decorating through distant learning. That means you study and learn from home and you utilize your computer and textbooks sent to you in the mail to learn the field. There are many well respected colleges and universities in the United States that offer this option. There are also credible places like Rhodec and Limperts Academy of Design that are overseas, but offer interior design degrees that you can do in your home at your own pace. Their tuition can be set up on a monthly payment basis.
You don't have to have a degree to become an interior decorator. If your goal is to become an interior designer, then you should because most states have strict qualifications for designers. But, if you are mostly interested in decorating and not design - you can get into the field much faster. If you have an understanding of the field and a passion for the work, you can self-study and learn this on your own. For example, try decorating some friends homes for free (they pay for the furnishings and other materials) and then slowly build up a portfolio that way with photographs and recommendations.
Here are some articles I've written for additional reading.
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