MIT - Massachusetts Institute of Technology

How to Become an Interiour Designer

Interior designers design and oversee the construction of interior spaces that are functional, safe, and attractive. They create interior spaces in offices, homes, restaurants, shopping malls, airport terminals, hospitals, and more. Designers speak with clients to determine their needs, consider the available space and how people move through it, sketch design plans, choose building materials and furnishings, and oversee the project to its completion. Professionals in this field may specialize in a number of fields, including in lighting, closet, kitchen and bath, and sustainable building design. Regardless of their specialization, they work closely with architects, structural engineers, and builders to complete projects.

Employment of interior designers is expected to increase 4% from 2014 to 2024, which is about as fast as average for all occupations, according to the BLS. Growth will be due to an increased demand for renovating existing rooms and buildings so they are more environmentally friendly. However, demand for interior designers will fluctuate depending on economic conditions. Yet some companies budget for projects over several years, which means that remodeling assignments may be available regardless of the state of the economy.

Becoming an Interior Designer

To qualify for an interior design career, you need to have a bachelor’s in interior design. Interior design programs include study in basic illustration, color theory, Computer Aided Design (CAD) rendering, project management, and more. These courses give students the chance to acquire hands-on experience and develop the practical skills they’ll use in their careers. Students also have the chance to develop a professional portfolio in which they can showcase their skills to employers. A portfolio is typically required by employers as part of the application process.

More than 150 bachelor’s and master’s programs in interior design are accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA). The National Kitchen and Bath Association also accredits certificate, associate, and bachelor’s design programs with a focus in kitchen and bath design at more than 60 colleges and universities across the country. Accreditation shows that a college or university’s academic programs meet an external set of academic standards that can be relied on to prepare students for their careers.

Many states restrict the use of “interior designer” as a professional title unless the person passes a licensing exam, commonly provided by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ). The NCIDQ exam features multiple choice questions and practice design problems that cover building systems, construction standards, contract administration, design application, and project coordination. There are various ways you can qualify for the exam. Typically you need a degree in either interior design or architecture and some work experience. You can see the NCIDQ’s eligibility requirements here. There are some voluntary interior design certifications in certain specializations, such as in kitchen or bath design, which are offered by trade or professional organizations.

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