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What Are the Education Requirements to Be an Interior Designer?

Interior designers are skilled in making the most of a room to instill calm, productivity, utility, or comfort. Completing a postsecondary degree program in interior design can train you to work in this profession.

Career Overview

Interior designers work with spaces in homes, businesses, and other types of dwellings. Their primary goal is to create a unique living or working space by using furniture, lighting, colors, and textures. Sometimes the design is utilitarian in nature, while other times it is aesthetic. Interior designers frequently work with interior architectural features and must have the ability to read blueprints, as well as use computer-aided design (CAD) or computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) software.

Important Facts About Becoming an Interior Designer

Certificate Level Undergraduate/Professional certificates available
Prerequisites High school diploma, or equivalent
Concentrations Typically on the graduate level; design history, design leadership, special populations
Online Availability Fully available for the bachelor's and master's degrees
Median Salary (2018) $53,370
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 4% growth

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

Becoming an interior designer requires completing a postsecondary degree program. Undergraduate programs, such as associate's and bachelor's degree programs, provide foundational education that includes drawing, design, color and lighting theory, materials, and architectural concepts.

Associate's degree programs should prepare you for a position as an interior designer assistant. Bachelor's degree programs should provide the training needed for an entry-level interior design job. Two agencies that accredit interior design schools and programs are the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA).

Licensing Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), some states require interior designers to be licensed or registered. The National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) administers the licensing exam. Those who pass this exam are known as certified, registered, or licensed interior designers, according to the terminology and requirements of the state in which they took the exam.

To be eligible for the NCIDQ certification exam, you must complete a minimum of six years of combined education and work experience, though there are multiple ways to meet those requirements. Generally, completing a bachelor's program and two years of work experience is the most common route.

Voluntary Certification

Interior designers who are primarily interested in designing home kitchens and bathrooms may wish to obtain a certification from the National Kitchen & Bath Association (www.nkba.org). This organization offers professional development courses and exams that lead to different types of certification for this specialized area of interior design.