Design Consultant Job Description
Design consultants, working in areas of interior, graphic, and fashion design, primarily lend their expertise to assist in developing products, creating interior spaces, building prototypes, or assisting in creating new fashions. In this role, design consultants evaluate customer or client needs, work with architects, select interior design articles such as furniture and accents, oversee the layout of graphic arts projects, and choose fashion themes. Design consultants might create product displays, assist in marketing processes, or use relevant software to produce interior space or clothing designs.
Design consultants work in a variety of industries, such as retail stores, interior design companies, or graphic design firms. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the projected employment growth rate for interior designers, graphic designers, and industrial designers is the same, 5 percent for all of these professionals between 2016-2026. Reasons for this growth rate vary; it is expected that the growing trend of designing websites for companies and commercial building expansion and new projects will play major roles in the growth of this field.
Design Consultant Duties and Responsibilities
To meet the demands of this occupation, design consultants must complete several tasks in the course of their workday. We have examined several job listings for design consultants and have found the following to be among the most commonly listed responsibilities for this occupation:
Evaluate Client Needs
Whether they are working in areas of fashion, graphic, industrial, or interior design, design consultants first and foremost examine the needs of their clients or customers. They typically review such factors as interior space, target audiences, website layouts, and other aspects to ensure that they meet client/customer specifications.
Create Prototypes or Drawings
In any area in which they work, design consultants provide prototypes or drawings of fashion designs, interior layouts, websites, advertising materials, industrial models, and other representations to give their clients or customers an idea of what the finished product will look like. They use digital design software, blueprints, and other tools to deliver this material.
Improve Existing Designs
Design consultants are not always required to build new products or spaces; in some instances, they redesign existing interior settings, fashions, or graphics to improve on existing designs. They will work closely with architects, interior designers, fashion designers, webmasters, and other professionals to make suggestions and upgrade current designs as requested.
Design Consultant Skills
To find success as a design consultant, you should display strong creative, communication, and organizational skills. Design consultants should be detail- and goal-oriented self-starters who are able to work with teams of diverse individuals and possess a deep awareness of time management and budget concepts. Knowledge of sales processes, an enthusiastic personality, and a competitive spirit are important assets for design consultants. Besides these crucial skills, it is essential for design consultants to possess the following abilities:
- Lay out and select accessories for interior designs
- Choose graphics and assist in the layout of websites
- Set up interior spaces for industrial settings
- Design color themes, fabrics, and other aspects of fashion designs
- Create product displays
Design Consultant Tools of the Trade
Various tools are available to help design consultants complete their assigned tasks. If you have the desire to work as a design consultant, you should have more than a basic understanding of the following:
- AutoCAD software – knowledge of computer-assisted design (CAD) software is essential for design consultants in all areas of design
- Graphic design software and technologies – design consultants often need to incorporate the use of such programs as Adobe and Photoshop to create graphic images and illustrations
- Basic computer applications – from emailing customers to creating spreadsheets, design consultants should have strong knowledge of Microsoft Office applications, such as Excel and Outlook
Design Consultant Education and Training
No matter what area a design consultant works in, it is often required that they possess a bachelor’s degree; thus, those interested in this occupation should possess a bachelor’s degree in graphic, fashion, or interior design. Various voluntary certifications exist for design consultants; they might, for instance, pursue a certification from the National Council for Interior Design or obtain certification in specific graphic design software. In some states, those working in the field of interior design have to hold a license.
Design Consultant Salary
The median annual salary of design consultants can vary greatly depending on the field in which they work. The BLS reports that the median annual salary of graphic design consultants is $47,640, fashion design consultants $65,170, interior design consultants $49,810, and industrial design consultants $67,790. Demographically, top earners for these professions are often found in the northeastern or western U.S. states such as New Jersey ($88,170 annual mean wage for industrial design consultants), New York ($83,980 for fashion design consultants, $65,760 for interior design consultants, and $62,750 for graphic design consultants), and California ($59,210 for graphic design consultants and $76,370 for fashion design consultants).
Design Consultant Resources
Refer to the resources provided below for more details about becoming and working as a design consultant. Follow links to books, blogs, and professional associations that can provide more insight into this career:
American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) – From networking to workshops, this organization can provide support and professional development opportunities for interior design consultants.
AIGA – the Professional Association for Design – Various types of designers and design consultants turn to AIGA for information about conferences, design trends, educational opportunities, and more.
Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) – IDSA offers educational and professional development conferences, seminars, videos, and other resources for industrial designers and industrial design consultants.
Words That Would Otherwise Be Coming Out of My Mouth – Written by web designer and consultant Brad Frost, this blog explores details about design processes and systems and includes such topics as prototyping, digital product design systems, and more.
Fresh Consulting Blog – Hosted by a team of digital developers, this blog explores best practices and tools used by various design consultants and similar professionals.
How to Open & Operate a Financially Successful Redesign, Redecorating & Home Staging Business – Beginning or established fashion design consultants will find a lot of useful information in this book, such as insight into the design industry and tools needed to be successful in this field.
Fashion, Style, and Image Consulting: Textbook Manual – This short book provides an overview of design consultant roles and practices in the fashion design industry.
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