For most interior designers, professional responsibilities depend entirely on the client. Those who work with structural engineers and architects on a project may need to read an architect’s’ blueprints and be conscious of building, construction, and safety codes. Some professionals design interiors for airports, restaurants, schools, or hotels. Still others specialize in designing single rooms such as kitchens or bathrooms. Regardless of the project for which they are contracted, the designers’ goal is to create environments that are safe, functional, and aesthetically pleasing.
In order to launch a successful career, students of the interior design trade learn the fundamentals of art and design, design theory, and technology. During their studies, they will be exposed to new approaches to design, such as ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ design. Furthermore, students learn to apply the knowledge they acquire in the classroom as they take assignments and build their portfolios. Many opt to enroll in online interior design bachelor’s degree programs.
Why a Bachelor's Degree?
A four-year degree is usually required to find employment as an interior designer, so enrolling in one of the many online bachelor degree programs in interior design can be a smart career move.
Licensure requirements for interior designers vary by state, but many have laws restricting usage of the professional title “interior designer.” For such states, both unlicensed and licensed designers can do interior design work. However, only professionals who pass the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam (California requires the California Council of Interior Design (IDEX) exam), may call themselves ‘registered interior designers.’
Only those with a bachelor’s degree in interior design and a minimum of two years experience in the industry qualify for the exam. As many individuals just entering in the industry do not meet these qualifications, the bachelor’s degree might be the most effective course of action for students who want to become career professionals.
Bachelor’s degrees in any subject are versatile, as graduates often find employment in fields outside their academic discipline. The offline or online degree for interior design qualifies students for numerous entry-level jobs in other related fields, such as fashion design or event planning. Interested students may want to look into certificate options to gain more knowledge in fashion design or event planning.
Inside an Interior Design Bachelor's Degree Program
Every undergraduate program in interior design varies, but most have criteria regarding how students apply for and enter the major. Interior design programs may, for example, require students to complete 18 credits from the university’s general studies courses and 15 from the department’s list of required courses for undergraduates; most require students to maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher, as well.
General studies classes required by an interior design program are found in other departments such as literature, mathematics, communication, psychology, and sociology. Compulsory classes within the interior design department may include, ‘Design Fundamentals,’ ‘Drawing I,’ ‘Architectural Drafting,’ and ‘Person and Environment Interactions.’ As students advance in the major, they may take upper-level classes such as, ‘Twentieth Century Design,’ ‘Computer Aided Design: Architecture and Interiors,’ ‘Advanced Interior and Architectural Design Visualization,’ and ‘Portfolio Preparation.’
What’s Next for Interior Design Bachelor's Degree Holders?
Graduates from the bachelor’s program can find entry-level work in the industry or continue with their education to earn a master’s — and potentially even a doctorate — in interior design. These advanced degrees often allow students to prepare for the NCIDQ; in fact, some programs are designed specifically for this goal. A doctorate degree is necessary for those who want to teach interior design at the university level.
Common entry-level job titles include interior or lighting design assistant, CAD technician, facilities planner, and sales representative. With time, graduates will acquire the experience necessary to complete the licensing exam and become registered interior designers.
In 2014, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported that interior designers earned a median salary of $48,400 per year. The average growth rate for interior designers from 2014 to 2024 is 4%.