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What is Interior Design?
An interior designer constructs aesthetically pleasing environments using material, color, fabric, spacing, shelving and lighting in order to meet the needs of clients. Designers must be knowledgeable in multiple fields, including architecture, design, safety regulation, and art and must be able to keep pace with trends while remaining creative and distinct. Designers will collaborate with architects, electricians, contractors and landscapers in order to complete the designs to spec. Designers must also be able to read blueprints, know fire codes and regulations, and be knowledgeable of software relating to design.
Educational Requirements for Interior Designers
A minimum of a bachelor's degree is required to begin apprenticing as an interior designer, though those with an associate's degree can work as assistants. Individuals will study a variety of topics during the four year that it typically takes to earn a bachelor's degree. Some individual's will also take on internship opportunities or seek employment during the course of their education in order to augment their studies with practical experience. Interior design requires an understanding of several different fields often reflected in a typical curriculum.
Interior design majors will have varied courses which may include:
- Furniture Design
- Spatial Planning
- Computer Graphics
- Creative Writing
- Lighting Design
- Interior Design Drafting Essentials
- Computer-Aided Design
- Interior Architectural Systems
- Residential, Commercial, Office and Industrial Design
- Building & Safety Codes
- Sustainable Building Practices
- Environmental Design
What Do Interior Designers Study?
In addition to the classes listed, interior designers will study an array of subjects depending on the degree track and institutional requirements. For example, students enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program in interior design (either Bachelor of Science in Interior Design or Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design) can range from three to four years while an Associate Degree in Interior Design is typically a 2-year program. Both programs provide the curricular design to provide students with integrative thinking skills coupled with requisite creative tools and analytic skills. General education courses for interior designers may include English composition, philosophy, math, and creative writing. Core courses will help students understand color, lighting, fabrics, architecture, landscaping, ergonomics, and spatial design.
Online Interior Design Degree Programs
For some students, earning an interior design degree online is an ideal solution. Online interior design programs may be a great fit with your schedule, life, goals, and independent learning style. By leveraging technology, students will have access to create aesthetically pleasing spaces that are safe, sustainable, and accessible to patrons with varying needs. These spaces will be back-tested to meet today’s rigorous regulations and technical standards.
Online interior design degree programs include vital aspects of the trade such as color, proportion, lighting, rendering, perspective, and drafting. With these basics in place, students will move to furnishings and textiles through computer-aided design and human design. These skills coalesce to provide interior design students with a highly dynamic platform to successfully approach projects in residential design, office design, commercial design, and industrial design.
What Skills Can I Expect to Learn as an Interior Designer?
Outcomes for online interior design degree programs and on-site degree programs are tightly aligned. In both cases, accredited colleges expect students to acquire a defined set of skills and knowledge to be work-ready. A common set of skills will include:
Professionalism – Interior design graduates will be asked to deftly apply their knowledge and ply their trade in an ethical and consistent manner. Regardless of the scope of the job or geographic location, interior designers are equipped to design spaces to meet customer needs and adhere to applicable rules and regulations.
Building Systems – Onsite and online interior design students will learn to utilize the right finish materials to meet and exceed customer expectations. Factors involved in accomplishing this include aesthetics, budget, regulatory compliance, safety, maintenance, sustainability, and standards of use.
Problem Solving – Interior designers will learn problem solving skills leveraging the design process and knowledge of design theories and applications. This deep analysis will help propel a project from concept into reality through collaboration and synthesizing customer information.
Communication – Successful graduates will effectively communication through oral, visual, and written methods to project stakeholders. Using creative methods and real-world renderings, designers will help set expectations and ensure projects are carried out through completion.
Interior Design Solutions – Producing end-results that effectively integrate into a space is key. Interior design graduates will take into account environmental and building systems by blending sustainability & maintenance in proper ratios to satisfy customer demands.
What is the Difference Between Interior Design and Interior Decorating?
While related, interior design and decorating are not the same job function. An interior designer works with designers, architects, project managers, and developers to design and modify a defined office or residential space. These spaces will adhere to all applicable regulations, codes, and aesthetic requirements of a municipality and county. On the other hand, an interior decorator will apply finishes to a room that will include furnishings and color.
After graduating, designers will be able to pursue apprenticeships that may last between 1-3 years prior to a graduate practicing interior design. Most states require licensing and the exam is administered by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification, requiring 6 years of combined education and experience and at least 2 years of post secondary education. Accreditation bodies for programs include the National Association of Schools of Art and Design and the Council for Interior Design Accreditation.
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Employment Opportunities and Certification
Interior designers will work with architects to assist in the designing or remodeling of a space. This will be done based on client's desires and realized through a process of sketching and modeling utilizing a variety of mediums. An understanding of costs and planning is necessary to determine the length of time and materials necessary to realize the client's visions. The use of computer aided design (CAD) software is commonplace among interior designers and proficiency in its use is a requirement for success.
Individuals may specialize in a particular type of architecture and design, utilizing motifs from a particular time period to establish a style or mood. Others may specialize in a particular type of building or buildings, such as offices, hospitals or hotels. The variety of specializations available to interior designers is many, and allows for flexibility. Some may choose to be sustainable designers, focusing on efficiency of resources to maintain more environmentally friendly spaces, or may focus entirely on lighting and how such fixtures may affect the atmosphere of a room. Often times, such interior designers will work with one another, each focusing on his or her specialty in order to produce a final design.
Interior designers may pursue certifications to expand their area of expertise. Such certifications are generally available through trade or professional associations and demonstrate proficiency in a particular area of design, such as kitchens closets. Interior designers with such certification may find themselves in higher demand due to their ability to focus on a larger area of design. By earning such certifications and renewing them as needed individuals will be able to build client confidence, with successful designs in those areas adding to one's portfolio and increasing a demand for their work.
Top States of Employment for Interior Designers
- California 7,390
- Texas 4,970
- Florida 4,730
- New York 2,970
- Illinois 2,400
Top Paying States for Interior Designers
- District of Columbia $80,950
- Rhode Island $72,130
- New York $65,760
- California $64,940
- Massachusetts $62,780
Job Growth, Salary and Related Fields
Work opportunities are available for interior designers and the field is expected to expand in the coming years as demand increases. Work environments will widely vary as locations for jobs will change. The average salary of an interior designer is approximately $49,810 per year with entry level positions will starting around $28,000 based on national averages. Interior design is a competitive profession requiring determination, skill, innovation and experience to progress and succeed.