Interior Decorating School and College Program Information

Apr 24, 2020

Essential Information

Interior decorators improve the look and functionality of commercial and residential interior spaces. A good design sense and related work experience are usually all that is required to enter the field, but a certificate or diploma program in interior decorating is beneficial. Associate's programs in interior design are also available to aspiring interior decorators.

On the other hand, prospective interior designers pursue either bachelor's or master's degrees in interior design, depending on prior education. Compared to interior decoration, the field of interior design typically requires more advanced knowledge of building structures and architectural details. Admissions requirements for both bachelor's and master's programs typically include a portfolio of relevant work. Additional requirements can include resumes, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and an interview. Internships are often part of bachelor's programs, and master's programs tend to culminate in a thesis project or final portfolio. Students who earn one of these degrees may be prepared for state licensure as interior designers, though work experience requirements usually apply as well.

Certificate in Interior Decorating

Interior decorating certificate programs teach design history as well as current trends. Studio classes allow students to gain hands-on experience in interior decorating. Students may be required to compile a portfolio project or give a presentation. Most certificate programs take up to one academic year to complete.

Diploma in Interior Decorating

Diploma programs in interior decorating are very similar to certificate programs. The curriculum is the mostly the same, but diploma programs also offer coursework in architectural drawing and computer-aided design (CAD). Students are usually required to complete general education requirements. Completion of an internship or portfolio project may be required. Diploma programs can typically be completed within 1-2 years.

Associate's Degree in Interior Design

While interior decorating focuses on the look and function of existing interior spaces, interior design is concerned with designing and outfitting new interior spaces. Associate's degrees in interior design provide students with well-rounded knowledge and skills in decorating elements, design fundamentals and architectural planning. Students learn the newest trends and latest design technology. Some programs also include merchandising classes in the curriculum. Completion of an internship and submission of a professional portfolio are typical graduation requirements.

Bachelor's Degree in Interior Design

Bachelor's degree programs in interior design focus on the artistic and technological aspects of planning, building and decorating interiors. Most programs require students to complete an internship for college credit. Students are often afforded opportunities to attend conferences and participate in professional organizations.

Master's Degree in Interior Design

A master's-level program builds on previous knowledge by focusing on human responses to interior environments, professional issues and design research. Students can select areas of study such as sustainable design, historic interiors preservation or design education. The interdisciplinary curriculum combines interior design studies with related fields. Completion of a master's thesis, project or portfolio is often required for graduation.

Popular Career Options

Interior decorating certificates and diplomas open the door to a wide variety of entry-level positions, and can even lead to self-employment. The following careers are typical for graduates of these programs:

  • Sales consultant
  • Color and lighting specialist
  • Interior decorating assistant
  • Home staging and furnishing professional
  • Showroom manager
  • Set designer

Salary Information and Career Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, (, predicted that jobs in the interior decorating and design field would increase by 4% between 2018 and 2028, which is in line with the average. According to a 2019 BLS report, interior designers earned an annual median salary of $56,040.

Continuing Education

While there are few, if any, doctoral-level degrees in interior design, many Ph.D. programs incorporate interior design studies into a larger program such as architecture and design research, or human behavior and design. Graduates of master's degree programs in interior design who have an interest in continuing their studies can consider these options.

There are many options for students who want to have a career as an interior decorator ranging from certificates and diplomas to degree programs to undergraduate and graduate programs. Depending on which route a student picks in terms of education, depends on the amount of course work a student will be doing..

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