Working as a professional interior designer today typically requires at least a Bachelor’s in Interior Design to get started. However, in some cases, this simple requirement may be followed by a bit more credentialing than in others. For the scoop on how the exact requirements to becoming an interior designer can vary from state to state, follow along.
The General Rule
As a sort of general rule, the interior designer profession only requires a Bachelor’s in Interior Design for entry. By holding a Bachelor’s in Interior Design, one will have learned a great variety of important industry knowledge including that of project analysis methods, spatial enhancement approaches, service designs, color and texture effects, and so much more. But, as this degree does provide a deep understanding that is adequate for professional interior design practice in most states, there are some states in which this degree alone is not enough.
Commercial Space Laws
Some states use what is commonly referred to in the industry as Commercial Space Laws. These laws hold that interior designers must be registered with the state to provide their services from within a commercial space. The term commercial space here is also quite inclusive of virtually any space an interior designer could then utilize for a business hub.
To be registered here means to have gained certification-requiring licensure from the state to operate from a commercial space as an interior designer. The five states or territories in which this is the case are Louisiana, Florida, Nevada, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico. In some cases, residential-based operation as an interior designer is permitted in these states.
California has its own, unique set of rules regarding interior design work as a profession. Here, the state relies on a special council of its own to assure certification and accountability in interior designers in the state. The California Council for Interior Design Certification is that governing arm for the interior design trade in California. To be eligible for the state’s necessary certification through this agency, one must present with a bachelor’s in interior design as well as multiple years of on-the-job interior design experience.
General Certification Process
In all other states not mentioned above, it’s typically entirely up to the individual themselves to determine if they wish to earn a nationally-recognized (outside of California) certification in interior design. Having this certification, even if not required by state law for operation, is highly recommended as it assures the designer of up-to-date education and know-how, alignment with national trade standards, increased credibility in the public and customer eye, and even eligibility to trade club and professional interior design association memberships. For this certification, applicants must go through the National Council for Interior Design Qualification or NCIDQ.
The NCIDQ certification test assures that candidates are completely up-to-date on current industry best practices, legal parameters, and more. Eligibility to take the exam for the NCIDQ Certification hinges strictly on two years of prior work experience in interior design as well as a bachelor’s degree in interior design. An Alternative Review Process, or ARP, is allowed for certain applicants who are suitably prepared for certification but otherwise may be experiencing difficulty providing documentation of their meeting of the standard eligibility requirements.
Related Resource: What Degree Do I Need To Become An Interior Designer?
Interior design work can be a great way to go for those who enjoy using style and artistic ability to help design the interior spaces of paying clientele. Becoming an interior designer does entail different requirements, as described above, that is based on the particular state laws of the interior designer’s residence.