Interior Decorator

Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects
Openings 5 years to November 2019: 5,001 to 10,000
Median weekly earnings: $1051 to $1300
Australian Government Department of Employment 2015
Interior decorators are creative individuals who assist clients in achieving the perfect design finishes for rooms and buildings.

There are approximately 240 interior decorators in South Australia. Employment is mostly full-time with the majority working in the Property and Business Services industry.

TAFE SA courses that may be relevant for: Interior Decorator

Accredited (Award)


  • When you walk into a building and notice that the furniture, wall coverings, fittings and accessories all work together to create a theme, there's a good chance that an interior decorator has been at work. Interior decorators assist clients to select and co-ordinate the different elements that make up the interior of a room or a building.

    Artistic and Creative

  • Of those currently employed 33% have a Bachelor Degree; 24% have a Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate; 8% have Post Graduate Degrees; 5% have either an Advanced Diploma or a Diploma; and 27% have no post school qualification. In order for you to have the best possible chance of finding employment it is recommended that you gain the available qualifications.

    TAFE SA offers courses relevant to this occupation including the Advanced Diploma of Interior Design and the Diploma of Interior Design. Pathways include the Certificate IV in Interior Decoration and Certificate IV in Kitchen and Bathroom Design.

  • To acquire the skills necessary to become an interior decorator, training is usually provided on the job. Interior decorators working in retail, may begin as sales assistants in furniture, display and soft furnishing departments. As experience increases and opportunities arise, it may be possible to progress from sales to consulting. After completing their on the job training, interior decorators generally work on a commission basis, although this will vary between employers. Incomes, therefore, have the capacity to vary greatly depending on the sales ability and reputation of the decorator.

    The demand for their services is largely dependent upon the level of activity in the building industry and the number of established properties being refurbished. With the recent introduction of a government rebate for first home buyers building a new home, there may be some short term employment growth in this area.

  • Interior decorators plan and implement decoration schemes in homes, hotels, office buildings, shops, restaurants, clubs and schools. Some of the duties and responsibilities of an interior decorator include interviewing clients in order to determine colour and style preferences, lifestyle needs (no white sofas with toddlers around!) and matching these to budgetary requirements. Their plans, samples, and cost estimates are then submitted to their clients for approval.

    The job involves assisting clients in problem solving. It's a challenge to come up with a solution that will suit both the taste of the client and the characteristics of the building or room. Designers also select colour schemes, lighting, furniture, floor coverings, curtains, paint, wallpaper and hardware products (eg curtain fittings) either with, or on behalf of the client. They then supervise the purchase of materials, and co-ordinate their delivery, installation or arrangement. Interior decorators working in retail shops are also likely to be involved in direct selling.

  • This is a challenging career with working conditions varying with the place of employment and sometimes interior decorators have to work extended or irregular hours in order to meet clients' needs. They may need to travel to a client's home or office, and spend a great deal of time there. It can also be challenging when a client doesn't have the same tastes as a decorator and there is a clash of aesthetic sensibilities. It is important to remember you are working for the customer and that your personal taste should take a back step to the paying customer. Otherwise you may put in a lot of work, and yet the customer is not happy with the results. You may also get situations where a husband and wife can't agree on what they want. Good communication skills and a professional manner are a must if you want to be successful in this career. A flair for design is essential in this line of work, as is the ability to visualise ideas. People working in this field must be prepared to keep up to date with design trends since colours and styles in furnishings date just as quickly as those in fashion.

  • Prospective employers include department stores, furniture stores, fabric suppliers, carpet outlets, paint and wallpaper retail outlets, decorating services, manufacturing companies, and interior design practices. Some interior decorators work on a freelance basis and purchase merchandise from wholesale and retail outlets. Those who have extensive work experience and good business skills may open their own decorating service and employ others.

    According to one interior decorator and member of the Design Institute of Australia, 'Interior decorating as a profession is different to interior design, but just as valid. More and more practices are employing interior decorators because of their expertise in soft furnishings and fabrics. Educational institutions are beginning to take it seriously as a profession, as reflected by the provision of formal training and the Design Institute of Australia's decision to now acknowledge interior decoration.'

    For further information, contact:

    Design Institute of Australia
    Phone: 1300 888 056