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Interior Design Schools and Courses

A career in interior design offers tremendous opportunities for those who wish to wield their creative flair for design. Not to be confused with interior decorators who specialize solely in beautifying an internal area, graduates of interior design schools are professionals licensed to design and develop interior spaces.

Job Description and Responsibilities of Interior Design School Graduates

Graduates of interior design schools are responsible for developing the layout of an interior space from a holistic perspective, melding elements like architecture and decor. By planning the spatial use of an interior and adorning it with appropriate furnishings and fittings, interior designers create functional stylized spaces. After completing interior design courses, graduates are expected to:

  • Effectively communicate with clients to understand their needs
  • Conceptualize and present creative solutions to develop functional and aesthetically-pleasing interior spaces
  • Create and develop plans that document the design concept
  • Render computerized images
  • Obtain resources such as labor and materials 
  • Ensure the design plan meets environmental, health, and safety guidelines, as well as building and construction codes
  • Ensure optimal space management and placement of furniture and fittings
  • Implement and maintain budgets for design projects
  • Coordinate design tasks with other industry professionals such as architects, plumbers, electricians, etc.

In addition, graduates need to be extremely organized and have excellent project and time-management skills. Ideally, they should be customer-oriented and flexible in adapting to the changing needs of their clients. Being a team-player is also essential as interior designers must work closely with other professionals who are needed in the development and completion of design projects. they possess a keen eye for detail and have an appreciation for all things artistic and aesthetic.

Career Options After Interior Design Courses

Graduates of interior design courses can work as junior designers, design assistants, intermediate designers, senior designers and project managers. The areas of focus include space planning, visual merchandizing, the design of furniture and fixtures, and much more; the career opportunities are certainly vast.

They may choose to focus on residential or commercial work, while some designers even specialize in industry-specific areas such as hospitality or retail. Those who wish to further specialize in certain design disciplines may be required to pass examinations which grant them practice certification.

Interior Design Education and Training

Having a formal education is vital to anyone considering a profession in this industry. Schools provide the technical and creative skills necessary to become professional interior designers. All university interior design programs require at least a high school education and ACT/SAT scores.

Schools offer a variety of interior design degrees such as a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design, Bachelor of Science in Interior Design, Associate of Applied Science in Interior Design and graduate interior design programs which offer a Masters of Fine Arts in Interior Design.

Students can choose an interior design program at a private or state university or community college, while others may opt for a degree online.

Before selecting a school, it would be wise to thoroughly research several different programs which offer interior design degrees. Researching the various programs available will help you determine which is most suitable in attaining your career goals.

Interior Design School Tuition

The cost of an education varies greatly from school to school. It is imperative that you carefully think about tuition fees and the affordability of an interior design school before narrowing down your choices. A more expensive program is not always necessarily an indicator of a better school. Do find out if you are eligible for student loans or government financial assistance.

Certification for Interior Design School Graduates

Upon graduation, a career in interior design would begin with entry-level work to obtain experience. Several American states require that graduates gain licensing or certification before they are allowed to practice. To do this, graduates are required to sit for a qualifying examination in order to become certified by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ).

If you choose to pursue a bachelor's degree, you should expect to spend about 6 years in total completing your education and work experience before taking the NCIDQ exam. Pursuing a certificate or associate's degree would require a greater amount of work experience before you qualify for the NCIDQ exam.

Interior Design Program Accreditation

One should research the accreditation of schools to ensure that the interior design courses meet the high educational standard set forth by the accrediting body. Currently an estimated 150 programs across the US are accredited by The Council for Interior Design Accreditation. A complete list of accredited programs available in each state will help you in selecting an interior design school.

Advantages of an Interior Design Career

A career in interior design promises:

  • Opportunities to work with a wide variety of talented professionals
  • The ability to specialize in specific areas
  • Numerous outlets for creative expression
  • Opportunities for travel

Interior Design School Graduates Earning Potential and Employment Prospects

Salaries may vary according to factors such as experience, community recognition and project size. In 2004, the median annual salary for interior design schools graduates was $40,670. Whilst the lowest 10 percent earned less than $23,440, the upper most 10 percent earned more than $71,200. As more experience accrues, salary levels rise commensurately. Long-term prospects include specialization and the opportunity of becoming a partner or owner of a design firm, earning up to $200,000 a year.

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