Interior architecture programs explore architectural concepts and decoration techniques in home and building design. Learn more about this field of employment and its career outlook in addition to degree options, licensure and certification.
Interior architecture professionals design visually appealing, comfortable and functional indoor spaces. They aim to improve quality of life through a combination of practical and aesthetic aspects. This field is quite similar to interior design, but degree programs in interior architecture concentrate more on construction, building materials and use of space. Interior architects also must learn local, state and federal building codes. You can study interior architecture at the bachelor's and master's degree levels.
Upon completing a degree program, you may find work as an interior architect, designing and decorating comfortable offices, communal gathering spaces, bathrooms, shopping malls and restaurants. Other careers that you could seek include interior design, set design, showroom management, lighting design, textile design and upholstery design.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) did not report specific information for interior architects, but it does provide data for closely related fields. The BLS projected that employment of interior designers would increase by 13% between 2012 and 2022 (www.bls.gov). Also according to the BLS, upholsterers earned a median of $30,750 per year as of 2013, while interior designers earned median salaries of $48,500.
If you decide to pursue this discipline, you'll study the history of architecture, furniture and decoration as well as the principles of color theory, lighting and furnishings. A bachelor's degree program is a good starting point for the aspiring interior architect, since it's the minimum requirement for most interior architecture careers. You can expect an undergraduate program to take 4-5 years to complete. You'll learn basic theoretical principles and acquire foundational skills.
If you're interested in pursuing advanced studies in interior architecture, master's degree programs are also available. This is particularly useful if you completed your undergraduate studies in interior design or architecture and you want to explore additional aspects of this field. In a graduate program, you'll study trends and problems in interior architecture and design. You can learn more about construction management and worldwide design trends. You may also be able to select a concentration in historic preservation, interior decoration, product design, furniture design or residential design.
Depending on the state where you work, you may need to attain licensure to practice interior architecture. There are optional design certifications in bathroom and kitchen interior design, provided through the National Kitchen and Bath Association. Certifications can help demonstrate your talents to possible employers. As you gain experience and reputability, you might attain more prestigious job positions or decide to open your own business.
Hand rendering, computer-aided drafting and visual problem solving are important skills you'll need to acquire. You might take a course in environmental psychology to learn about how a building's ambiance affects human behavior. If you want to be a successful interior architect, you should be creative and imaginative. You'll need to keep up on current trends, such as sustainable design, and be able to communicate effectively with other professionals and clients.