So You Want to Be an Interior Designer

The world of interior design is often thought of as a glamorous career full of wealthy, jet-setting clientele. In reality, the life of a designer is quite the opposite. Designers complete rigorous academic and professional requirements, pay their dues and most perform their jobs in relative anonymity. Whether you are considering hiring an interior designer, are interested in pursuing a career in the field or simply want to know more about the profession, these facts will provide insight into this diverse and highly competitive field.

What Is Interior Design?

Interior design is a profession merging artistic, analytical and technical disciplines to provide an interior solution dictated by the needs of a client. This requires a unique personality, one who can understand and manage divergent concepts. Interior designers must be familiar with color, fabrics and furnishings, as well as construction materials, electrical capacity and building codes. Excellent organizational, communication and business skills are also critical to the success of designers.

Modern History
The interior design profession, as we know it, flourished as a result of the Industrial Revolution. This era created an affluent middle class and an abundance of affordable products and materials. For the first time in history, modern conveniences and services once afforded only to the wealthy were available to a wider population. The modern interior design profession was in its infancy and a number of home and interior magazines began publishing at this time.

Specialties
Designers can specialize in one or more categories of interior design. The two core specialties are residential and commercial design. Residential interior design deals with planning and design of private residences. Commercial design is concerned with the planning and design of interiors used for commercial, government or educational purposes. Subcategories include sustainable/green design, accessible design, entertainment design, facilities management, government/institutional design, health care design and hospitality/restaurant design.

Academic Requirements
Interior design has strict academic requirements compared to other design disciplines. It is recommended an interior designer have a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degree. Architecture, engineering, design and art courses are recommended areas of study within these degree programs. A number of colleges have specialized degrees in interior design. Design schools offer two-, three- and four-year interior design programs. A few colleges and universities have Masters and Ph.D. level degrees in interior design. Depending on the level of education completed, aspiring designers can qualify for assistant positions or enter full apprenticeship programs.

Professional Accreditation

The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) is the largest and most widely recognized professional organization for interior designers. ASID professional members must undergo thorough acceptance standards including an ASID accredited design education, proof of full-time work experience and successful completion of the professional certification exam given by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ). The exam is used in 23 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico as part of the licensing requirement for interior designers.

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