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Interior Designer Education Requirements and Career Information

Interior designers require a fair amount of formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and apprenticeship options to see if this is the right career for you.

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Interior designers select colors, lighting, materials and furniture to set up a room for the client's desired purpose. Their goal is to create a space that is functional, safe, and meets the client's needs. Interior designers need a bachelor's degree and may also need a license or certification by their state.

Essential Information

Interior designers determine space requirements and set up decorative items like colors, lighting and materials so that a room is functional, safe and beautiful. A bachelor's degree is the baseline academic requirement for most interior designers, and professional licensure or certification is a requirement in many states in order to use the title 'interior designer'.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Licensure or certification is required in some states; two years of professional experience may be necessary for licensure
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 4%
Average Salary (2015)* $55,510

Source:*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements

Someone who can envision how everything fits together practically in a room or another interior space and who can apply artistic skills to make that space aesthetically pleasing is a good candidate for this field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a professional program in interior design is required to get started, and that typically takes two to three years and awards a certificate or an associate degree, although bachelor's degrees are available, too. Degree programs in interior design may be accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation or from the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. Most schools that offer interior design programs enroll students through art, architecture or design departments.

Common Courses

The curriculum of an interior design program commonly includes classes in interior design, visual and design communication, materials and construction, lighting design, sustainable design, usability and interior design, computer-aided design, psychology and color, and learn how to apply those principles to interior design projects intended for residential and commercial projects. School facilities can include studio space for student work and in some cases a research project or internship may be required.

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Career Information

An interior design career typically begins with an apprenticeship or other supervised professional experience. Depending on the state, a person can become certified, registered or licensed as an interior designer, all of which have certain education, work experience and testing requirements, although not all states require these professional credentials. Regardless of state requirements for interior designers, passing the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam allows one to be formally called an interior designer.

With skills, experience and in some cases, additional training and testing, interior designers may qualify for specialized certification in subfields, like the kitchen and bath design certifications that are conferred by the National Kitchen and Bath Association. Formal job titles may include commercial interior designer, residential interior designer and lighting designer and may become attainable after several years of on-the-job experience.

Salary Information

According to a report by the BLS, interior designers are expected to see employment growth of 4% between 2014 and 2024, which is below average. In May 2015, the BLS reported that interior designers earned an annual average salary of $55,510, with most interior designers employed by the specialized design service industry, by architectural, engineering and related services firms and by furniture stores.

Interior designers will experience slower than average job growth from 2014-2024, per the BLS. The minimum education requirement for interior designers is a bachelor's degree. Many states have licensing or certification requirements, and in some states it is necessary to gain up to two years of work experience in the field before a candidate can meet the qualifications to be a licensed interior designer.

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