Interior Decorator Education Requirements

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

If you are creatively minded, and interested in working on creating or improving the aesthetics of indoor spaces, a career as an interior decorator might be for you. These professionals typically complete a certificate program with potential for completing an apprenticeship program with a design company.

Essential Information

Interior decorators are concerned with the appearance and functionality of indoor spaces. They use furniture, paint schemes, carpeting and decorations to transform the interior of a building. While a postsecondary degree is typically required for interior designers, many interior decorators only have a high school education and a certificate in interior decorating from a community or vocational college. It's also common for them to complete an apprenticeship or internship in which an experienced decorator trains them. Optional certification in the field is offered through the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) and the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA).

Required Education Certificate for interior decorator positions; degree for interior designer positions
Other Requirements Apprenticeship or internship
Certification Optional certification through the NKBA and CIDA
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 4% (for all interior designers)
Median Annual Salary (May 2015)* $48,840 (for all interior designers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements for Interior Decorators

An interior decorator typically holds a different level of education and professional expertise than an interior designer. While both interior decorators and interior designers work with the color schematics and aesthetics of interior spaces, interior decorators generally don't have the same background in architectural design that interior designers are required to have. For this reason, the most common educational background for interior decorators is a certificate program offered through a community college.

Certificate Programs

Interior decorating certificate programs prepare students for entry-level jobs in decorating interior spaces. Students enrolled in this career certificate program often study the following subjects:

  • Residential interior design
  • Commercial interior design
  • Elements of design
  • Furniture
  • Lighting
  • Meeting client needs
  • Principles of color
  • Interior decorating fabrics

Apprenticeships and Certification

Many interior decorators complete an apprenticeship with a design firm, independent interior decorator or furniture store following the completion of their degree or certificate program, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Apprenticeships typically last 1-3 years and provide aspiring decorators with valuable work experience under the supervision of decorating professionals. The Interior Design Experience Program, a program run by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ), is a formal internship program that places recent graduates with designers who match their style and career aspirations.

Interior decorators can opt to gain voluntary certification from Council for Interior Design Accreditation. The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) also offers various levels of professional certification in residential kitchen and bath design. Decorators who meet education and work experience requirements, attend training seminars and pass NKBA certification examinations qualify for these certifications.

To summarize, interior decorators, unlike interior designers, do not focus on the architectural design of interior areas, but on using lighting, color, carpentry, and accessory techniques to decorate a space. Although job growth is predicted to be slower than average between 2014-2024, earning a voluntary certification may improve job prospects.

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