In addition to theoretical classes, students enrolled in interior design programs learn how to use computer programs to organize spaces. Graduates can acquire entry-level jobs in design consultation or interior decoration. They can also qualify for licensure if they have the necessary work experience. Programs are approximately 60 credit-hours of coursework, and some programs offer internship/externship opportunities so students can receive professional experience.
Associate's Degrees in Interior Design and Decorating
An associate's degree program provides classes that teach students the functions and aesthetics of design and decoration. They also learn problem-solving techniques and interior space safety. Students typically receive hands-on training and classroom instruction. Common courses may include:
- Drawing and design elements
- Computer-aided design (CAD)
- Interior design history
- Color theory
- Furniture design
Popular Career Options
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), entry-level interior design jobs typically require an associate's or bachelor's degree, and those with associate's degrees in interior design are usually eligible for assistant positions (www.bls.gov). Graduates of a 60-credit-hour associate's program can apply for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification's (NCIDQ) Interior Design Experience Program (IDEP), which aids entry-level designers gain interior design work experience (www.ncidq.org).
- Interior designer assistant
- Color and materials designer
- Builder's assistant
- Interior design consultant
- Model-home merchandiser
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't report statistics for interior decorators or interior design assistants, information pertaining to interior designers is tracked and made available. In 2015, interior designers earned an annual median salary of $48,840, with the most employment in specialized design services. From 2014-2024, the BLS projected 4% employment growth, which was slower than the average occupation at that time.
Continuing Education Information and Licensure
Many academic institutions offer interior design degrees at the bachelor's and master's levels. Some credits from an associate's degree in interior design program may transfer to a bachelor's degree program. Many states require interior designers to obtain licensure or register, reported the BLS. The NCIDQ provides licensure for eligible candidates. Those with an associate's degree in interior design also need 3-4 years of qualified full-time work experience before they can sit for the licensing exam.
Students interested in interior design and decorating can pursue an associate's degree program to prepare for further education or entry-level employment in the field. Graduates can expect small, but positive, job growth as interior designers.