iscd’s Design Career Guide

Posted by iscd@admin on January 18

First of all, what is design? According to, design is the process of planning the form or structure of an artwork, object or decorative theme. These days, the more global we are, the more accessible design is to everyone and the demand for design specialists is growing.

We see design every day; from the styling of our homes, to the designs on our coffee cups, to the poster on the side of the bus. Ever wondered how you go about studying design and most importantly what sort of careers it can lead you to?

This year iscd turns 35. That’s 35 years of supporting creative people through their study and helping them launch into the industry and their dream career. The opportunities for work in the design world are endless, you just have to make sure you are willing to work for it.

Design has the capability to take you into careers you may not even associate with design or even knew existed. Studying design will open you up to so many new and exciting opportunities. There are many different specialisations that come under the design umbrella. Here we explore some of those career options.

Image 1: Ali Yahya

Image 2: Christopher Burns

Junior Designer

The quickest step into the design world is as a Junior Designer. There is a certain foundation of knowledge and basic skills needed to make this step. Understanding elements and principles, combination techniques, 2D and 3D forms, the creative design process, the history and theory of design, and the colour theory and application. You can get this basic training through a Certificate IV in Design and be employed as a Junior for a number of design businesses and then see where it takes you. All you need is a strong passion for all things design!

Image 1: iscd student Angela Cassidy

Interior Decorator or Interior Designer

There is a difference between these two and if you are interested in interiors, it’s important that you know what they are to determine what you actually want to do.

An Interior Decorator is someone who has a passion for interiors and decorating, who loves to play with colour, fabrics, finishes, fixtures and furnishings. They are capable of reinventing a room to a space that feels well resolved; has that ‘wow’ factor and invites you to be in the space. Interior Decorators are also qualified to work in retail for product companies. Big brands like Mokum or Ikea need qualified Interior decorators to work in their stores; from styling the store to being their stock buyer to helping customers purchase products to compete their design scheme. Good advice on how to complete a design scheme is invaluable to all parties in this process.

An Interior Designer has all the skills of an Interior Decorator plus they have a deeper understanding of construction and technical drawing. They can work on anything from small projects to large rebuilds for residential or commercial development. Their projects will by nature be larger and more complex to manage and their client skills enable them to work with architects, engineers or the client direct. They can work on fast paced residential projects or long term commercial construction. So there is variety in the type of project style an Interior Designer can work on.

As well as the studying the correct courses to become an Interior Decorator or Interior Designer you need to be one of those people that can’t put down that Home magazine, who always finds themselves buying home wares and who always finds themselves rearranging rooms, basically someone who lives and breathes interiors!

Image 1: Jared Rice

Image 2: Nastuh Abootalebi


A Stylist is someone who, like an Interior Decorator, can style an interior space and product range, however a stylist can also work on anything from styling events such as weddings or photography shoots to magazine shoots featuring products. A stylist is someone who can create a look out of the product range they have been given. They are very aware of current trends and have a great ability to mix and match styles, often coming up with new and interesting looks. To become a Stylist you would need to study a specialised diploma in Styling, have a real interest in keeping up with trends and current styles, as well as having a creative eye.

Image 1: Sweet Ice-Cream Photography

Colour Consultant

A Colour Consultant is someone that knows and understands all about the world of colour. They are specialists in creating colour palettes for interior or exterior colour schemes and for product development. Businesses like Colour Companies or any manufacturer of building products will have an internal colour expert on their team. Another option is to become a colour consultant working alongside architects, construction businesses, or marketing teams. You need to have a real love for the world of colour and study a Diploma in Colour Design.

Surface Designer

A Surface Designer is someone who illustrates prints and patterns that can be applied to any product. Products can range from homewares and stationary to swimwear and much more. Training in Surface Design can lead you to many career paths for example, working for a company helping to design products, an additional skill for a graphic designer or even going freelance and launching your own range of products or designs to license and sell. A Surface Designer is generally someone who loves to get creative, whether it be with crafts, painting, drawing or digital design. To go down this career path you can study a specialised Diploma in Surface Design.


Image 1: iscd graduate Shelley Acland-Goben

Image 2: iscd graduate Negin Maddock

Furniture Designer

With furniture being one of the most important elements of Interior Design as a Furniture Designer you have a pretty important role. You have to keep up with fashion and trends as well as consumer mind sets around manufacturing ethics and social responsibility. This sort of career is suited to those with both a creative, mathematic and technical mind thinking all about practicality and function whilst you are designing. You can go into this career by either an Interior or Industrial Design course.

Image 1: Christelle Bourgeois

Exhibition Designer

An Exhibition Designer is almost like a cross between an interior designer and a stylist, as you are creating displays in a gallery, museum or other public space. You have to have a great eye for design as well as layout making the exhibition both practical, pleasing to the eye and inviting to be in. To be qualified in this area you would need to study in areas like art culture as well as styling.

Graphic Designer or Digital Designer

A Graphic Designer is someone who specialises in creating work for pre-print production. With a main focus on things like typography, logo design, brochures, posters and imagery. A Digital Designer also works on all of the above with a strong focus on the digital side such as web and app design. You can read more about Graphic Design and Digital Design here.

Image 1: Nordwood Themes

If you have a passion for design, these are just a few of the exciting career opportunities that come out of studying design. The design world is constantly evolving so designers need to be too. Make sure you choose a school that is DIA approved so you are getting qualifications in a quality course. Remember you get out what you put in so study hard and dream big. But most importantly choose a school that has the right feel for you. The students you study with will be your network at the start of your career and an invaluable source of support throughout your career.

So, where can design take you? The short answer is “anywhere you want it to.”

Here is a list of course that iscd has to offer…

Certificate IV in Design

Certificate IV in Interior Decoration

Diploma in Interior Design and Decoration

Styling Diploma

Surface Design Diploma.

Colour Design Diploma

If you want advice on what course best suits you to make your dream career a reality, contact us today!

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