Four things you might not know about interior design

Four things you might not know about interior design

Recently we launched a new qualification here at Builders Academy: the Certificate IV in Design (Interior Space)(CUV40311). Since enrolments opened there’s been a huge take-up for the course, but also a lot of questions. What exactly does a career in interior design involve? And what does it have to do with building and construction? As it turns out, a lot more than most people think.

In case you know someone who might be interested in the course, we’ve pulled together a bit of a fact sheet below. Read on for some interior knowledge.

Interior design vs. interior decorating

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Lately, TV shows like The Block have boosted people’s interest in design (thanks, Luke and Ebony!), especially for residential builds and renovations—but there’s a big difference between the skill set of an interior decorator and the job description of an interior designer.

First and foremost? Training. Professional interior designers usually hold a diploma or bachelor’s degree, or have at least five years’ experience under their belts in a related industry such as architecture or building design. Basically, it’s a job that requires construction knowledge. As the Design Institute of Australia explains it, “Interior designers are trained to consider the modification of the interior structure of the building rather than just refinishing and furnishing existing spaces.”

Learning the ropes

Interior designers deciding on color swatches for new project

Studying interior design definitely involves learning about materials, finishes and colour, but formal training also covers design theory and history; building systems and technologies; project management; sustainability, access and public safety considerations; and the Australian Codes and Standards that relate to these areas.

This is especially a focus in Victoria, where interior designers are eligible to register as building practitioners with the BPB and apply for building permits.

A Certificate IV is obviously just a first step in the world of interior design, but it’s a strong start on a career path in a varied industry. Your next step might be to start freelance work in styling and decorating, take on a diploma course, or look at a related qualification such as the Certificate IV in Building Design Drafting (CPP40115).  Alternatively, you might decide to get professional experience by joining a design consultancy or working for an architect, a building company or a property developer.

Career opportunities

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Anyone will tell you design is a competitive industry. But, as always, the more skills you have under your belt the more opportunities you’ll find.

The Australian government’s Job Outlook website shows close to 40 per cent growth in employment for interior designers over the past five years, and predicts more growth between now and 2019.

Meanwhile (now that mining’s not the main game any more) the building industry is booming, especially in the area of residential construction. The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show it’s currently our economy’s top performing sector. The Housing Industry Association confirms that a record number of new homes were started in 2014/15—in other words an increase of 16.9 per cent.

That’s a lot of houses that need designing. But don’t forget an interior design qualification also opens up opportunities to work on commercial and industrial projects as well as in retail and hospitality design.

Looking to the future


Lately, the Australian government has been looking at how we can all improve productivity and innovation in the construction industry. If the sector takes on recent expert recommendations, it looks like design will be playing a much more integrated role over the coming years: “Good design is greatly undervalued. Good design which links through to productivity and manufacturing and a well-managed design process is critical to productivity.” Good news!

Getting started

How was that for an introduction? If you’ve been considering a new career in interior design, we hope this fact sheet was useful. For more information on our Certificate IV course, feel free to drop us an enquiry here or give the team a call on 1300 LEGEND.