Associate of Interior Design: Degree Overview

Interior design associate degree programs teach students how to modify the appearances of residential and commercial spaces. However, advanced education and licensure are typically required to gain entry-level employment in the profession.

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Essential Information

Associate degree programs in interior design often include coursework designed to help students acquire both business and design skills. Colleges generally offer this two-year degree as an Associate of Applied Science, an Associate of Arts, or an Associate of Science. Some programs require students to complete a professional portfolio, and some may offer internship and design competition opportunities. Most graduates pursue a bachelor's degree in interior design, which is often necessary to get a job in the field.

Applicants must have a high school diploma or the equivalent. Some programs require applicants to submit a portfolio of previous work for admission.

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Associate of Interior Design

The curriculum introduces students to basic design concepts, such as blueprint reading, drawing and drafting. In addition to decorative arts, they could study textile design and furniture design. Courses can also cover the following topics:

  • Drafting
  • Lighting design
  • History of interior design
  • Color theory
  • Kitchen and bath design
  • Computer-aided design

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected a 4% increase in job opportunities for interior designers for the 2014-2024 decade (www.bls.gov), which is slower than the average for all occupations. This field is expected to remain competitive as an increasing number of professionals vie for a limited number of design opportunities. As of May 2015, the average annual wage for an interior designer was $55,510.

Continuing Education and Licensure Information

Associate degree program graduates could enroll in interior design bachelor's degree programs, and some credit from an associate degree program could transfer, shortening the time it takes to earn a bachelor's degree. Coursework often covers advanced topics in such areas as building science, design materials and cost estimating. Students could also participate in a series of design studios.

Some states require interior designers to be licensed or certified. To qualify, graduates of an associate degree program in interior design might need an additional four to five years of supervised work experience. Graduates of bachelor's degree programs could need between three and four years of experience. Once they fulfill academic requirements, they'll also need to pass a three-part written exam administered by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification.

Associate degree programs in interior design provide important foundational knowledge in the field for aspiring interior designers, but additional education is often necessary before they can start working.

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