Most employers require kitchen designers to have a basic knowledge of cabinetry and residential construction. They should also be able to produce accurate cost estimations and project quotes. Academic requirements for kitchen designers vary by employer. An associate's degree in kitchen and bath design is ideal for kitchen designers.
These associate's degree programs require students to have a high school diploma or equivalent prior to admission. They usually take two years to complete and may include both traditional in-class and online courses.
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Associate of Science Degree
In a kitchen and bath design associate's degree program, students learn basic construction, interior decorating and design planning concepts. Students learn to use various materials and tools to create and implement kitchen and bath designs. Kitchen designers must be extremely familiar with computer design programs. The industry relies on computer-aided design (CAD) technology to create designs. Programs typically allow students to gain practical, hands-on experience with kitchen design using CAD. Common courses include:
- Interior design fundamentals
- Kitchen design
- Residential construction
- Cabinetry design and installation
- Color and design theory
- Cost estimation
Employers typically hire kitchen designers with at least four years of experience to ensure quality work. Many kitchen designers gain experience through a degree program and if offered, a kitchen design apprenticeship. With experience, kitchen designers can build a professional portfolio of kitchen concepts and completed projects.
Licenses and Certifications
Kitchen designers are not required to be licensed. Certification is available from the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) and may be preferred or required by an employer.
National Kitchen and Bath Association Certification
Kitchen designers can become certified by meeting the requirements set forth by the NKBA, which is the industry's leading organization. The organization offers eight types of certification for kitchen and bath designers and educators.
The lowest level of certification is the associate kitchen and bath designer (AKBD), which requires two years of experience, 30 hours of training, two professional affidavits and the completion of a comprehensive exam. Kitchen designers with more experience and training can become certified kitchen designers (CKDs), certified master kitchen and bath designers (CMKBDs) or certified kitchen and bath installers (CKBIs). These high-level certifications do not require designers to pass an exam, but they must hold the lower-level certifications, which do require exams.
Workshops and Seminars
Workshops and training seminars may be offered by colleges, employers or design firms. Workshops address topics such as CAD kitchen design, financial planning for kitchen design, quality assurance and control, kitchen design materials and creative design solutions. The NKBA also offers online and in-person workshops on:
- Kitchen countertops
- Kitchen mechanical systems
- Color design strategies
- Kitchen sales tactics
- Kitchen showroom designs
Additional Professional Development
Kitchen designers can find professional development information from the NKBA. The NKBA has been the industry's premier association for nearly 50 years. Kitchen designers can find continuing education courses, online training opportunities and industry news releases. Membership to the organization includes even more benefits. Kitchen designers can also find information on bathroom design courses. Designers with experience in kitchen and bathroom design often have greater opportunities for employment.
Individuals can start preparing for a career as a kitchen designer by obtaining an associate's degree in kitchen and bath design. After earning a degree, students can get field experience though an apprenticeship and earn a certification through the NKBA.