Design Consultant: Job Description and Education Requirements

Sep 27, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a design consultant. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and other requirements to find out if this is the career for you.

A design consultant requires a bachelor's degree in their field of design. They may also need to be licensed; requirements vary by state. Design consultants may specialize in interior design, graphic design or fashion design.

Essential Information

The goal of a design consultant is to suggest design ideas that incorporate functionality and aesthetics. Design consultants can specialize in interior design, fashion design or graphic design. All share the goal of creating a space or product that integrates form and function. A bachelor's degree is the minimum educational requirement for many design consulting positions.

Careers Interior Designer Fashion Designer Graphic Designer
Required Education Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Licensure may be required N/A Voluntary certification available
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 4% 1% 3%
Median Salary (2018)* $53,370 $72,720 $50,370

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Interior Designers

Interior design consultants may focus on decorating, or they may focus on architectural details and layout planning. Commercial and interior designers create new products or alter existing designs. They essentially help clients utilize living space by arranging furniture, lighting and other fixtures, create design plans and select color schemes and styles. Knowledge of computer software is usually needed. Interior design consultants can be self-employed or work for studios or design firms.

An associate or bachelor's degree is needed for an entry-level interior design position. Some states require licensing. There are approximately 300 accredited colleges with programs in art and design, and some of these offer a degree in interior design. Such a program may offer courses in psychology as well as art and design principals.

Fashion Designers

Fashion designers study the latest trends to create articles of clothing, footwear and accessories. They can select fabric styles and colors, choose collection themes and help with the marketing of designs. Fashion design consultants can specialize in specific areas, such as footwear design or accessory design. They can be self-employed consultants for work for apparel manufacturing firms or clothing stores.

A career in fashion design typically requires at least an associate's or bachelor's degree. Some colleges offer a fashion design degree, or a student might combine a design degree with business, marketing or fashion merchandising. Fashion design programs may include a course in human anatomy.

Graphic Designers

The goal of a graphic designer is to convey a client's message through the visual arts. They create images and develop graphics for company websites and products. They typically use graphics software and are responsible for color schemes and layout. Graphic design consultants can also be self-employed or might work on a contractual basis in any type of industry.

Graphic designers may have a bachelor's degree in fine arts or graphic design. These programs typically include courses in studio art, design principles, liberal arts, marketing and business. Individuals with a technical certificate or associate's degree in graphic design may be able to work as assistants or in positions requiring only technical skill.

Licensure or Certification Requirements

For interior designers, it is common to obtain licensure in order to operate in this field. This requirement varies from state to state; in some, interior designers might do interior design work but are not allowed to refer to themselves as interior designers without a license, while in others no license is needed at all to be an interior designer. Obtaining licensure requires passing the National Council for Interior Design Qualification exam.

There are no required licensure or certification requirements for fashion design or graphic design consultants in any state; however, graphic design consultants could pursue a voluntary graphic design software certification from certain vendors that could help reflect their proficiency to potential employers.

Employment Outlook and Salary

The BLS doesn't have a data specifically for design consultants; instead, the information is provided within each design discipline. The BLS expected a one percent increase in employment for fashion designers from 2018 to 2028, while graphic designers might see only a 3% growth in that period. Interior designers were predicted to see growth of 4% during that decade. All of these figures represent average to slower-than-average employment growth.

The BLS reported in May 2018 that interior designers earned a median annual salary of $53,370, while fashion designers were paid a median yearly wage of $72,720. The BLS stated that graphic designers made the median annual salary of $50,370.

Design consultants integrate form and function to create a product or design. They typically can work in the fashion design, graphic design or interior design fields. The job market for design consultants is highly competitive, and a bachelor's degree is the standard academic requirement.

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