If you love decorating rooms, then you’re probably wondering what kind of degree you need to become an interior designer. The most advisable option is to choose a bachelor’s degree program in interior design. However, you may be able to succeed with a major in a subject such as art history and a minor in interior design.
Additionally, students increasingly are realizing that choosing a specialized degree focus may make them even more competitive in the job market. Programs that emphasize residential applications, kitchens and baths, accessibility design, commercial design, healthcare facility design, government building design and historic restoration design all are available. Prospective students who have a particular area of interest are encouraged to seek a program that allows them to choose a specific concentration. This helps them to stand out in a field of candidates.
Bachelor’s Degrees in Interior Design
These four-year programs allow students to complete all of their general education requirements as well as the requirements for earning a major in interior design. Emphasizing concepts such as creativity, technical proficiency, sustainability and communication, these undergraduate degrees frequently may be completed on a part- or full-time basis. It’s worth noting that some programs may be completed partially or fully online and that certain universities may offer evening and weekend courses.
Through coursework, students are introduced to the basics of design using both 2D and 3D composition and space problem-solving. Using sketches and models to present a variety of solutions for a problem is encouraged, and students will get hands-on experience with the design process.
Does Accreditation Matter?
According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook that is published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hundreds of accredited programs in interior design are located throughout the United States. Nearly 400 institutions are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. Additionally, the Council for Interior Design Accreditation provides credentials for almost 200 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs.
Students who are particularly interested in the design of kitchens and bathrooms may want to consider a program that is accredited by the National Kitchen & Bath Association. The organization accredits some 100-degree programs at a variety of universities and colleges.
When considering numerous degree programs, it is always best to choose one that is accredited by at least one of these organizations. Accreditation ensures that a program meets or exceeds minimum quality standards. Moreover, prospective employers prefer knowing that candidates have been educated at a quality academic institution. Completing an accredited program also means that students are prepared to sit for any necessary certification programs.
Qualifying for Licensure
In some states, individuals are required to be licensed to use the “interior designer” title. This means that candidates must pass a state-approved examination. Known as the National Council for Interior Design Qualification, or NCIDQ, exam, people who pass this test are registered interior designers. Candidates must hold at least a bachelor’s degree in interior design and have put in two years of full-time work. Interior designers further may seek certification in a specialty area such as environmental or accessibility design. Such certifications demonstrate particular knowledge and expertise that may be attractive to employers and clients.
Other Classes for Interior Designers
Some interior design majors choose a minor for their studies while certain programs require that a minor be paired with a major in interior design. Even students who do not envision finishing the requirements for a minor may be interested in taking general education and elective credits that support their ambition for a career in interior design.
Business and marketing courses always are an excellent choice for interior design majors. This is especially true for students who want to start their firm. However, business and marketing subjects also are helpful for people who hope to find employment in an established company where it may be valuable to have such knowledge. New interior designers may be surprised by how much of their day is taken up with contracts, schedules and negotiation, making business skills imperative.
Other valuable courses relate to art and drawing as these help students to develop sketching abilities. Sketching is a marvelous technique for presenting ideas to clients. Classes covering the history of art and furniture are similarly recommended as they assist students to identify different eras and styles. Some interior designers even argue that theater classes are essential for building confidence and communication skills.
Interior Design Internships
When choosing an interior design major, it is wise to look for a program that requires internships. An internship provides students with a professional foot in the door, giving them real-world experience and allowing them to make valuable contacts. Internships also may be available after graduation, and many interns are hired after a trial period.
In most circumstances, people should seek at least a four-year degree when they hope to become an interior designer. Once they know that a bachelor’s degree in interior design is the best option, they can consider other factors such as accreditation, licensure, additional courses and internships.