How Do I Start a Career in Interior Design?

Competition for interior design jobs is fierce, so it's essential to have an edge over other candidates. To start a career in the field, you might consider getting a bachelor's degree in interior design and gaining work experience through an apprenticeship. Read on for more information. Schools offering Interior Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Education Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS,, there is stiff competition for interior design jobs, and those with bachelor's degrees face better job prospects. Colleges, universities, and professional design schools offer certificate and associate's degree programs in interior design, which will help you begin a career as an interior design assistant. A bachelor's degree in the field is necessary if you want to be a licensed interior designer. You can find bachelor's degree programs in interior design in architecture, art, and family and consumer science departments.

Important Facts about Interior Designers

Median PayIn 2014, the median annual pay for interior designers was $48,400, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Job OutlookEmployment of individuals in this field is expected to increase about 13% from 2012 to 2022, which is about the average for all occupations.
Key SkillsThe ideal interior designer is artistic, creative, pays attention to detail, is good at problem solving, and can visualize how their overall design will work together. Interior designers must also be skilled at working with clients and others on their team.
Similar OccupationsArchitects, Art Directors, Fashion Designers, Graphic Designers, Landscape Architects


Formal interior design apprenticeships are usually available for those who have a bachelor's degree in the field. Usually one to three years in length, design apprenticeship programs involve working under an experienced designer in a design or architectural firm. The National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) sponsors the Interior Design Experience Program.


Many states require that interior designers be licensed. Once you have six combined years of education and experience in interior design, you can take the licensing exam. The examination is administered by the NCIDQ. After passing the exam, you'll be a registered, licensed or certified interior designer, depending on the state in which you work.

Work Environment

Many entry-level interior designers find work in design or architectural firms. Some begin their careers as designers in furniture stores, reports the BLS. Experienced designers may be promoted to supervisory or management positions. Some open their own companies or become interior design teachers.

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