If you have decided you would like to be an interior designer, you are probably wondering how to begin. You will want to look into getting an education at a four-year institution to secure an interior designer job.
Getting a degree and furthering your education is a great way to secure a future in this competitive market. There are plenty of creative minds out there, so make sure you stand out from the crowd!
There are also plenty of classes, certifications, and degrees out there, so make sure you are doing the research on the program that is right for you!
Typical Background for Interior Designers:
A formal degree is not an absolute must for interior designers, but with the growing popularity in the field, it can be beneficial for you to have one.
Most interior designers have a Bachelor’s degree in a creative field. This does not have to be a degree in interior design, but you will be able to get a better job in the field if you have a degree that is in interior design itself.
There are many reasons why having a degree can help you in this field. If you have a degree, you will need less work experience to become a certified interior designer.
You will also prove to your potential employers or your clients, that you know what you are talking about, are qualified, and that you are dedicated to the field.
Related Article: Do Interior Designers Need Licenses & Degrees? (U.S. Rules)
Can I Become an Interior Designer Online?
There are many degree programs you can take to become an interior designer. These programs can be completed both online or in person.
There are approximately 11 accredited online interior design colleges that you can go to and earn either an Associate, Bachelor’s, Master’s, or certification.
Make sure you know what you need to get licensed in your state.
There are two different types of accrediting agencies that operate in the United States. These are the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) or the National Association of School and Art and Design (NASAD).
If you get a degree that is accredited by one of these places, getting certified or registered will be easier for you and require less work experience before you take the exam.
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Which Courses Should I Take?
Each interior design degree will have different requirements for you to pass. Make sure if you go to school for interior design, you take whatever classes are needed to graduate with your degree.
If you take another route and go for a different Bachelor’s degree, it will still be beneficial to take some classes that will help you with interior design.
These classes include:
- Computer-Aided Drafting and Design
- Contract Interior Design
- History of Interiors and Furniture
- Interior Design
- Interior Design Professional Practice
- Interior Design Graphics
- Interior Lighting Design
- Interior Structures and Materials
- Residential Interior Design
- Space Planning
You can get a degree that is not specific to interior design that can offer you, similar classes. Even getting those degrees can still be beneficial to you in an interior design course. You can also cut down on the required work experience with these degrees.
Some degrees you can get, in place of interior design degrees include:
- Commercial and Advertising Art
- Commercial Photography
- Fashion/Apparel Design
- Industrial and Product Design
These degrees are still in the art field. This will help prove to potential employers that you still have an eye for color and design. This can help when you are searching for a job.
Make sure while you are going through your degree program, you are building a portfolio. A portfolio can help show employers what you can do.
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How Much Does it Cost to Become an Interior Designer?
Getting a degree in interior design will cost you about the same money as getting another degree.
How much it costs you can depend on whether or not you want an Associate’s degree, Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, or other certification.
The cost for this degree can range between $15,000 to over $40,000.
This cost will depend on where you choose to go to school and for how long you choose to go to school.
This is not bad when compared to the median salary for interior designers which is around $50,000 per year depending on how popular you are, what your demand is, and what areas you work in.
Larger cities will likely have more work available with less travel time than smaller cities. This does not mean that you cannot make a career in a smaller city with the right motivation and willingness to travel.
Related Article: 8 Great Interior Designers (Online): Price, Focus & Expertise
What Skills are Needed to Become an Interior Designer?
Getting a degree or certification in interior design is one thing that you will need to become an interior designer, but it is not the only thing that you will need to be successful in the field.
There are skills that you will need to have to do well in interior design.
These skills include, but are not limited to:
Interior design is first and foremost a creative profession. If you are not interested in being creative, you will not thrive in this profession.
Learning how to design is one thing, but knowing how to apply what you learned, and when to break away from what you learned, are important to the creative process.
In addition to creativity, you will also want to make sure that you have sharp thinking skills. These can come in handy if you are having issues with a tricky space, or design concept.
Being able to think things through can help turn your creative design into a functional space for your clients.
Knowledge in Design History:
Understanding the history of design can help you pull from it when necessary. Some clients will want a style that was done previously and if you have a strong handle on the style requested, you can help deliver what your client wants.
You will not get very far in your career if you do not understand spatial awareness.
The entirety of interior design is taking a space and utilizing it to its full potential. If you are not sure what fits where, or what can go where, then you can not do well in this profession.
Computer skills are very important in today’s interior designer world. This can take some of the legwork out of sketching and can help you with planning and blueprints.
This can create a better visual for clients during the design process.
People skills are very important in this profession. To succeed in this profession, you will need to be able to win over your clients so they will hire you in addition to being able to work with them throughout the entire design process.
Are There Any Professional Organizations I Should Join?
If you are interested in networking, you should look into professional design organizations. These will help you meet other people in your field and can help when you are looking for jobs or clients.
Some of the organizations include, but are not limited to:
- American Society of Interior Designers (ASID)
- Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA)
- Interior Design Society (IDS)
- International Interior Design Association (IIDA)
- National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ)
- S. Green Building Council (USGBC)
These organizations can help link you with other top designers in your field.
How Many Years Does It Take to Become an Interior Designer?
How many years it will take to become an interior designer depends on what level of education you want to achieve.
An Associates’ degree will take about 2 years, a Bachelor’s will take about 4, and a Master’s usually takes 6 years.
If you want to get certified in interior design, you will also need between 2 and 3 years of full-time interior design experience before you qualify to take the test. This requirement varies based on how much education you complete beforehand.
Is there any Continuing Education after I Become an Interior Designer?
If you get a degree in interior design, you will not have to do any continuing education. You only need continuing education if you choose to get certified or registered.
Having this designation will help you let your employers and your clients know that you are dedicated to learning more about the field and keeping up with new developments.
Because of this, continuing education is required to keep your certification in interior design active. Make sure you find out what is required for your specific certification.
This can be as simple as taking six hours of continuing education every two years.
While education is not required to be an interior designer, you will need education if you want to be successful in the interior design field.
Most employers look for some sort of degree when making hiring decisions. This could be an interior design degree or another art degree.
Having a degree not only proves that you learned about the fundamentals of art, but that you can stay dedicated for the time that it takes to finish a degree.
Getting your education can also help you when it comes to getting certified. Taking the test for certification will require both formal education and real-life work experience.
If you are really dedicated to the field of interior design, you will want to make sure you take the proper steps to prove to your employer and clients that you are serious about interior design.
You have a creative mind. Now sharpen it!
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Maria is the founder of GoDownsize. While studying architecture in Denmark she became fascinated with designing living spaces for boats, tiny houses, RVs, and other small spaces.
She mainly writes about space optimization, interior design, and downsizing. She’s also in charge of our YouTube channel. Read more about Maria here.