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Interior Designer Training and Qualifications
Postsecondary education, especially a bachelorís degree, is recommended for
entry-level positions in interior design. Two-year and 3-year programs also are
available. Some States license interior designers.
Education and training. Postsecondary education, especially a
bachelorís degree, is recommended for entry-level positions in interior design.
Training programs are available from professional design schools or from
colleges and universities and usually take 2 to 4 years to complete. Graduates
of 2-year or 3-year programs are awarded certificates or associate degrees in
interior design and normally qualify as assistants to interior designers upon
graduation. Graduates with a bachelorís degree usually qualify for a formal
design apprenticeship program.
The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits approximately
250 postsecondary institutions with programs in art and design. Most of these
schools award a degree in interior design. Applicants may be required to submit
sketches and other examples of their artistic ability. Basic coursework includes
computer-aided design (CAD), drawing, perspective, spatial planning, color and
fabrics, furniture design, architecture, ergonomics, ethics, and psychology.
The National Council for Interior Design Accreditation also accredits
interior design programs that lead to a bachelorís degree. In 2007, there were
145 accredited bachelorís degree programs in interior design in the United
States; most are part of schools or departments of art, architecture, and home
After the completion of formal training, interior designers will enter a
1-year to 3-year apprenticeship to gain experience before taking a licensing
exam. Most apprentices work in design or architecture firms under the
supervision of an experienced designer. Apprentices also may choose to gain
experience working as an in-store designer in furniture stores. The National
Council of Interior Design offers the Interior Design Experience Program, which
helps entry-level interior designers gain valuable work experience by
supervising work experience and offering mentoring services and workshops to new
Licensure. Twenty-three States, the District of Columbia, and
Puerto Rico register or license interior designers. The National Council
administers the licensing exam for Interior Design Qualification. To be eligible
to take the exam, applicants must have at least 6 years of combined education
and experience in interior design, of which at least 2 years must be
postsecondary education in design.
Once candidates have passed the qualifying exam, they are granted the title
of Certified, Registered, or Licensed Interior Designer, depending on the State.
Continuing education is required to maintain licensure.
Other qualifications. Membership in a professional association
is one indication of an interior designerís qualifications and professional
standing. The American Society of Interior Designers is the largest professional
association for interior designers in the United States. Interior designers can
qualify for membership with at least a 2-year degree and work experience.
Employers increasingly prefer interior designers who are familiar with
computer-aided design software and the basics of architecture and engineering to
ensure that their designs meet building safety codes.
In addition to possessing technical knowledge, interior designers must be
creative, imaginative, and persistent and must be able to communicate their
ideas visually, verbally, and in writing. Because tastes in style can change
quickly, designers need to be well read, open to new ideas and influences, and
quick to react to changing trends. Problem-solving skills and the ability to
work independently and under pressure are additional important traits. People in
this field need self-discipline to start projects on their own, to budget their
time, and to meet deadlines and production schedules. Good business sense and
sales ability also are important, especially for those who freelance or run
their own business.
Certification and advancement. Optional certifications in
kitchen and bath design are available from the National Kitchen and Bath
Association. The association offers three different levels of certification for
kitchen and bath designers, each achieved through training seminars and
Beginning interior designers receive on-the-job training and normally need 1
to 3 years of training before they can advance to higher level positions.
Experienced designers in large firms may advance to chief designer, design
department head, or some other supervisory position. Some experienced designers
open their own firms or decide to specialize in one aspect of interior design.
Other designers leave the occupation to become teachers in schools of design or
in colleges and universities. Many faculty members continue to consult privately
or operate small design studios to complement their classroom activities.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,
Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition
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