Interior design is an exciting career path that activates your creativity, problem-solving, and project management skills. If designing, creating, and decorating beautiful indoor spaces sounds like the occupation for you, this guide will help you choose the best course to get started.

VET or University

Vocational Education and Training courses (also known as VET) are significantly more affordable than university qualifications and are steered toward practical, job-specific skills for immediate employment. Students in Australia have the option of studying VET courses through TAFE or private training providers.

University education focuses on theoretical knowledge for professional and academic careers. They usually require more time and are considerably more costly than VET courses.

How do I get started?

In Australia, you can launch your career in interior design with a VET qualification taught by professionals with real-world experience in interior design. Upon completion, you can continue onto a higher education qualification in the design, architecture or construction fields. The three most popular VET courses in interior design are:

  • Certificate IV in Interior Decoration — An entry-level course that focuses on interior design foundations and principles.
  • Diploma of Interior Design — A hands-on course for emerging designers that covers all aspects of interior design from foundational principles to project planning and software skills to grow your expertise.
  • Advanced Diploma of Interior Design — A comprehensive qualification for interior designers who need skills in construction management and want to work on either residential or commercial projects.

DID YOU KNOW? One of the key benefits of an interior design VET qualification is the ability to finish your course quickly - 9 months in the case of the Certificate IV in Interior Design.

Interior Design Degrees

Gaining a degree in interior design offers greater employment opportunities compared to a VET qualification but it also requires a greater time commitment. If you are studying full-time, you will need to invest 3-4 years to complete your degree. The advantages of a degree are greater learning choices and the ability to obtain specialisations in areas like construction management, lighting, retail, or designing for film and theatre.

The Bachelor of Interior Design covers everything from design theory and spatial planning to material selection and software skills. Graduates can pursue various career paths, such as becoming an interior designer, colour consultant, design coordinator, project manager, or even starting your own interior design firm.


Before enrolling in your interior design qualification, check if the course is accredited by a professional body like the Design Institute of Australia (DIA) or the International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers (IFI). Professional recognition increases your employment opportunities and future earning potential.

Skills Development

Take a close look at the units available and ensure you’ll develop the skills that interest you the most. Here are some questions to consider:

  • What software will you learn to use - Sketch Up, AutoCAD, Photoshop, project management software
  • Will you learn how to develop construction documentation to industry standards?
  • Is the course focused on residential projects or will you also learn how to design for large-scale commercial interiors and public institutions?
  • Will I develop a professional portfolio during my studies?

If there is a specific skill you want to develop, email the course provider before enrolling to ensure it is covered in the course curriculum.

Work Placements

Does your course offer an internship or work placement? Gaining real-world experience and working alongside highly experienced interior designers is a fantastic opportunity, but remember that most internships are unpaid and you may have to organise the placement yourself.

Online vs Face-to-Face

Should you study interior design online or in the classroom? More and more education providers are offering interior design courses online which is great if you are working full-time or juggling parenting responsibilities.

Online interior design classes are highly sophisticated and are offered by reputable universities and Registered Training Organisations (RTOs). Their platforms generally provide access to learning materials, lectures and classroom interactions, and out-of-hours student support services.

However, it can be very enriching to study interior design in a live studio with direct feedback from experienced educators. Face-to-face learning also allows you to interact with other creative people and network with industry professionals.

Written by Melinda J. Irvine
Melinda J. Irvine
Melinda is a professional writer, blogger and creative. When she’s not writing she works with marginalised kids in the Philippines, supporting their social and emotional wellbeing. You can find out more at