How Do I Become An Interior Designer?

"I love architectural stuff in general, but I am pretty sure I don’t want to actually become an architect, and I definitely don’t want to aim for civil engineer. That’s too far off from what I want to do, and the career paths for both fields look way too long for me. The interior design aspect is really interesting, though, and I thought that might be a perfect alternative for me, something a little more accessible. But I don’t know what the career path looks like for an interior designer either. I don’t know if I need certifications or education or I can just plunge right in without experience. What do I do to make sure that I am able to get work?"

asked by Bobby from Green Bay, WI

You should definitely take classes to become an interior designer. While there are interior designers with little or no experience, you will be more competitive and better qualified if you take classes. Some schools even offer a major in interior design, particularly arts-oriented colleges. You will want to take classes that teach you about interior design and architecture, and you also should get some business classes under your belt since many interior designers are self-employed and run their own companies. Make sure that you document all of your work as you go, even your class-work. It will all become part of your portfolio.

You may also want to join a professional society such as the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). Organizations like these help you to network and get to know others in your profession.

You can join as a student. Membership looks great on your resume, and by participating in local events, you can get to know potential employers and partners. You can also enroll in additional classes which are not available at your school.

At this point, you will want to start working, and then you will want to apply to take the NCIDQ exam, which allows you to get professionally certified as an interior designer.

Why start working first? In order to be certified as an interior designer, you need work experience as one of the requirements. The more education you have, the less work experience you need, and vice versa.

For example, if you went to school and got a four-year degree in interior design, you only need two years of work experience. If you only got a two year associate degree on the other hand, you need four years of full-time work experience.

Because you must find a job or start working for yourself before you even get certified, it is extra essential to join a professional organization and start making connections as soon as you can, and not wait until after school to build a portfolio. Interior design can be a fun, artistic, and rewarding career, but it is a competitive field, and you will need to take responsibility for your career progress right from day one in order to do well.

Career Spotlight: Interior Designer

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