Interior Architect: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an interior architect. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

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Interior architects design building interiors, which often requires considering both the functionality and appearance of a space. There are postsecondary degree programs in interior architecture that can assist with career advancement. Interior architects must be licensed.

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Essential Information

Interior architects, though often grouped with interior decorators, take on a bigger task than making a room or building aesthetically pleasing. They take into account what is practical and beautiful, but they must also understand the structure of a building in order to make it safe and functional. Interior architects usually hold degrees and are certified in their career field.

Required Education Completion of a Bachelor's or Master's-level architecture program
Other Requirements Licensure required; candidates must pass the Architect Registration Exam
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 7%* (for all architects)
Mean Salary (2015) $82,850* (for all architects, except landscape and naval)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Duties

Interior architects specialize in designing and building interiors for safety, functionality and aesthetics. It is important that interior architects not only understand the durability and strength of building materials, but also be skilled in the use of light, color and textures in a space.

Interior architects draft plans to create or refinish spaces in private homes or commercial buildings with their clients' tastes in mind. Each job may require interaction with different clients, additional architects or designers, construction teams and inspectors. In creating plans for a space, they take into account interior construction, lighting and furnishings. Interior architects must also be aware of federal, state and local building regulations so their designs are up-to-code.

Interior architects are typically part of the building or remodeling process from beginning to end. They begin a job by meeting with the client to discuss the expectations for the project. At these initial meetings, it is the interior architect's job to listen to the wants and needs of the client and make building suggestions. They also need to get a feel for the space.

After the initial consultations, the interior architect drafts design plans. These plans may show placement of walls, windows, doors, plumbing, electrical systems, ventilation, structural accents and possibly furnishings. They generally use computer drafting programs, such as computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) and building information modeling (BIM), for this step.

Interior Architect Requirements

In order to qualify for an entry-level position with an architecture or design firm, interior architects need a 4-year degree. The typical degree of choice is a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Architecture. Some universities may group a degree in interior architecture with a degree in interior design. When selecting an interior architecture program, students should look for one that is approved by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA). There are more than 150 CIDA accredited bachelor programs nationwide.

Following the completion of a 4-year degree and two years of professional experience, interior architects are eligible to take the National Council for Interior Design Accreditation (NCIDQ) exam. After passing this exam, interior architects become licensed.

Though not always necessary for advancement, some interior architects continue their education to receive a Master of Arts in Interior Architecture. This typically consists of 1-2 extra years of education and may allow interior architects to begin their careers above an entry-level position or advance.

Salary Information and Career Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that all architects should see an average job growth at a rate of 7% between 2014 and 2024. The BLS also reported that the mean annual salary for architects, excluding landscape and naval architects, was $82,850 in May of 2015.

Interior architects interact with clients to identify their needs and create interior spaces accordingly. They create designs for all aspects of an interior space, such as doors, windows, walls, and furnishings. Licensing is required and there are both bachelor's and master's degree programs in interior architecture.

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