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Become a Color Consultant: Training and Career Roadmap

Find out how to become a color consultant. Explore the education and training requirements, and learn about the experience you'll need to advance your career in interior design color consulting.

Should I Become a Color Consultant?

Color consultants are interior designers with formal and on-the-job training in cultivating human response to color in a particular setting. Color consultants are keenly aware of the psychological responses each color can trigger and can select appropriate color schemes for homes, businesses, hospitals and other buildings. They are able to decide the proper color scheme based on the nature and purpose of the space. Travel is often involved, and consultants may need to plan their work schedules to meet the needs of clients. Many specialists are self-employed, which offers schedule flexibility.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree usually required; associate's and master's degree programs are available
Degree Field Interior design or related field
Licensing and Certification Licensure required in some states; the International Association of Color Consultants/Designers (IACC) offers a membership program akin to certification
Key Skills Creativity, artistic ability, detail orientation; knowledge of tablet computers and computer assisted design (CAD), photo imaging and video creation software
Mean Salary (2014) $54,850 (mean salary for interior designers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O Net, International Association of Color Consultants/Designers.

Step 1: Complete an Interior Design Education Program

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, aspiring interior designers usually complete a bachelor's degree program in interior design. If they choose another major, they must complete coursework in CAD, drawing and interior design. Programs typically include classes in interior design theory and application, the history of interior design, lighting, drawing, computer-aided design, textiles and professional interior design practices plus an internship requirement. Others require studio courses and provide students with access to specialized facilities such as lighting or computer-aided design labs.

Success Tips:

  • Seek out an internship. Students should seek out opportunities to work in internships while still in school. Interning provides on-the-job training as well as the opportunity to develop one's professional network.
  • Build a portfolio. The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) recommends that students take photographs of all their work for inclusion in their portfolios. Portfolios are important while searching for employment and in working with clients.
  • Join a professional association. Participating in a professional association gives students access to experienced interior designers and color consultants who can be helpful in the development of the student's career, according to the ASID.

Step 2: Obtain a Position as an Apprentice or Assistant

After graduation, students seek work with an experienced interior designer or interior design firm. Ideally, students should try to work with someone who is already trained and accredited in color consulting. Another option is to pursue an apprenticeship.

Success Tip:

  • Contact your state's employment or workforce department. Formal apprenticeships can be arranged through state employment or workforce agencies. Each state has its own apprenticeship system, so students need to contact the appropriate agency to find out about applying for an apprenticeship.

Step 3: Obtain a Professional License

Some states require that interior designers hold a professional license. These requirements vary from state to state but may include sitting for the licensing exam given by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification.

Success Tips:

  • Contact the state professional licensing commission. State professional licensing commissions provide administer licensure programs. The interior design licensing commission can provide aspiring designers and color consultants with authoritative information on licensing requirements.
  • Keep up with license renewal requirements. Some states may require interior designers to complete continuing education classes as a condition of license renewal.

Step 4: Find Employment as an Interior Designer

Interior designers who work as color consultants may work full-time for businesses such as paint companies or interior design firms, or they may freelance and run their own businesses. Color consultants may market their services to diverse clientele, including business and residential clients.

Step 5: Attain Voluntary Professional Accreditation

The International Association of Color Consultants/Designers offers several levels of membership to those working in color-related careers. Both the associate and accredited levels of membership are akin to professional certification and require participation in seminars, the completion of work assignments and passing an exam. Accredited Color Consultants must also complete a thesis.


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