Interior designers are artistic, imaginative, and creative people with technical, managerial, and interpersonal skills. Becoming an interior designer requires more than just having these characteristics and skills. Most companies require at least a bachelor’s degree, preferably in interior design or a related field. However, many will accept a bachelor’s degree in another field as long as the potential employee has coursework and experience in interior design. With the technologies available today, many schools are now offering an interior design degree online.
In addition to a degree, some states require accreditation and licensing before working as an interior designer. The two main accrediting agencies are the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). The National Council of Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam will also need to be passed in order to become an interior designer.
Once a degree and the proper accreditation are acquired, designers can head out into the real world with a variety of different fields available for them to pursue.
Type of work:
Interior designers work with their clients to create aesthetically pleasing spaces that are also functional. They work in both residential and commercial settings. Some may choose to stick with one setting while others work in both residential and commercial.
Career paths are wide open in this field with specialties ranging from homes, hotels, hospitals, and offices to amusement parks, landscaping, and even prisons. Interior designers will often choose to specialize in more than one area. They can work for corporations, small businesses, or for themselves. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2014 one in four interior designers were self-employed.
According to the BLS, the 2015 median pay for interior designers was $48,840 per year or $23.48 per hour. They expect a 4% growth in employment by 2024. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also noted that interior designers will be needed to help ensure homes and offices meet certain needs for environmentally friendly and easily accessible spaces.
Types of Degrees
Those looking to earn a degree in interior design can pursue an Associate of Arts degree, a bachelor’s degree, or a master’s degree in the field. An associate degree might work for those looking to get started in the field and that don’t already have an undergraduate degree. A bachelor’s degree in the field is a great option for those that want to become interior designers, but aren’t quite sure what area they want to specialize in. For interior designers that already have a bachelor’s degree, the online master’s degree program offered by some schools allows interior designers to expand their skillset or choose a specialty.
For those interested in a master’s degree in interior design you may notice that some schools offer a Master of Arts (MA) and some offer a Master of Fine Arts (MFA). The MA degree includes a combination of liberal arts and fine arts courses while the MFA degree includes more courses that focus on the fine arts.
Online certifications are also available, but most interior design companies will require more than just a certification for employment. These certifications can be an introductory course for those interested in the field or help those that have completed a degree expand on their skills.
Types of Courses
Regardless of which type of degree is being pursued, students can expect to take courses that will build on their creativity and technical skills. Some example courses include Design Principles, Drawing and Composition, Color Theory, Elements of Design, Sustainable Design, Lighting Design, and History of Interior Design.
Udemy Interior Design Courses: Are you looking for a short introduction to the basics of interior design? Udemy offers these courses through instructive video tutorials that will take you step-by-step through each process to make sure you know what you are doing! They have scores of interior design courses in a wide range of topics from 3D to feng shui. It’s easy to make a silly mistake when you are first learning, check out these courses to make sure you understand the basics of interior design!
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh: As mentioned above, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh offers an online degree, but they also offer a Diploma in Residential Planning. This course is 36 credit hours and teaches students about drafting, interior design history, space planning, textiles, and professionalism. Students interested in taking this class must be high school graduates with a minimum GPA of 2.0 or hold a GED (General Education Development Certificate), associate degree, or higher degree.
New York School of Interior Design (NYSID): NYSID’s online Basic Interior Design (BID) certificate gives students an introduction to the interior design field. This course is intended to help students prepare for entry-level positions in the interior design field. It also helps prepare them for continuing their education with one of NYSID’s undergraduate interior design degree programs. Once students have completed this program they can use the credits earned towards their undergraduate degree. The completion of this program will provide students with a portfolio, which is required when applying to the BFA or AAS interior design degrees.
Students can take the course full-time or part-time and have the ability to take the classes at a pace that works for them. The program covers textiles, colors, drafting, design concepts, design history, and much more. The courses are taught by the same professors that teach the school’s undergraduate and graduate courses.Learn More about New York School of Interior Design
Interior Design Institute: The Interior Design Institute offers a diploma course that includes 12 modules and 12 interactive assignments that correspond to the modules. This self-paced course can take students anywhere from 24 weeks to one year to complete. The course was created by Wende Reid, an experienced interior designer.
Accredited Online Interior Design Degrees & Certificates
There are many schools that offer degrees in interior design, however, they don’t all offer the same degrees and classes. Here’s a look at some of the schools currently offering online degrees in interior design.
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD): The main campus for Savannah College of Art and Design is located in Savannah, Georgia, and they have expanded to Lacoste France, Atlanta Georgia, and Hong Kong. SCAD is one of the most well-known design schools, according to DesignIntelligence they have the number one interior design program. However, they aren’t just recognized for their on-campus experience. In the 12 years that SCAD has offered online degree programs, they have received multiple awards from the Instructional Technology Council including Excellence in Distance Learning Teaching, Outstanding Student Services, and Outstanding Online Courses, among many others.
SCAD is currently offering students an online Master of Arts (MA) in interior design. This online program requires 45 credit hours and teaches students to look at the connection people have with the space and objects that surround them. Online courses are taught by the same faculty members that teach their in-class courses. They ensure that graduate students and interns do not teach these online courses. Students taking online classes through SCAD’s eLearning program have access to all of the same resources, technology, and faculty that students taking classes on campus do.
SCAD’s many connections with companies around the world increase their graduate’s chances of landing a job in their chosen field.
Academy of Art University: Founded in San Francisco in 1929, but since 2002 they have offered their programs to students all over the world through online courses. They offer the following interior design degree programs to their online students: Associate of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Master of Arts, and Master of Fine Arts.
The Academy of Art University offers everything to their online students that they do to their on-campus students. Online students have access to an experienced faculty that has all been trained to teach online courses. Almost half of their professors have taught online courses for at least two years. Online students also have access to the same resources including the library’s website which has an ask-a-librarian page allowing students to request help when needed.
The Academy of Art also offers their online students plenty of student engagement and support. Their faculty makes the extra effort to track their student’s progress and ensure that they are signing in and participating in their online classes. They also provide their online students with support systems through their website, giving them access to writing labs, academic support, and language support.
Their Bachelor of Fine Arts degree prepares interior design students through theoretical education and practical training. The degree requires 132 credit hours, but they also offer a Second Degree program for those that already have a bachelor’s degree. This degree requires 66 credit hours. The Master of Arts program is 36 credit hours and covers all areas of interior design, including building systems and components, space planning, and use of materials. The Master of Fine Arts degree incorporates studio work with their academics and requires students to complete a Final Project. And finally, their Associate of Arts degree helps those interested in the interior design field gain the knowledge necessary for an entry-level position in the field.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln: The University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers online students a Master of Science in architecture, specializing in interior design. Their architecture, interior design program has been recognized by more than 200 design professionals for their ability to prepare students for the real world.
This 36-hour program builds on the student’s previous education and skill set in interior design and helps prepare them for leadership roles in the field. Courses focus on theory-based problem solving, getting students to think of the physical and spiritual needs as well as the health, safety, and well-being of those using the space being designed.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln makes sure their online students have the same access to faculty and services that their on-campus students have access to. Students working towards this degree have access to the school’s career services. If you don’t live near the campus they will provide their services via Skype and ensure you have full access to their services. Online students also have the same award-winning faculty teaching their classes. They can also work with advisers to ensure they are taking courses that will help them reach their career goals.
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh: The Pittsburgh campus of the Art Institute offers online students a Bachelor of Science in interior design. Their courses focus on problem-solving, communication, building systems, interior finish materials, and professionalism. They also offer an Associate of Science in Kitchen and Bath Design.
Like the other schools, The Art Institute makes sure that their online students have access to everything that their on-campus students do. This begins with the student community and student support system. They have an online student community where students, instructors, and staff can communicate online to help each other reach their goals. Online students have access to online tutoring as well as technical assistance.
The Art Institute also ensures that online students have access to faculty and staff that have been trained to teach and assist online students. They help you through every step of the process from admissions to graduation. Their career services are also available for online students during their time at The Art Institute and also after they graduate. They are there to help students find career opportunities that line up with their professional goals.
Learn More about New York School of Interior Design NYSID offers interior design professionals that already have a bachelor’s degree and are looking to choose a specialty within the field two online degree options. Students can earn a Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in healthcare interior design or in sustainable interior environments. Students have the option to enroll as full-time or part-time students for this program. Those that are full-time will complete the course in one year.
The classes take place at set times and are done via video conferencing. Classes usually occur weekly and include required reading assignments. Students have the opportunity to interact with each other during the live discussion portion of the class. Projects are presented to the rest of the class through video conferencing. Students also have the option to take the course during the day or at night, allowing flexibility for those already working.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): MIT offers free online interior design classes through OpenCourseWare. Students do not receive college credit for taking these courses and they do not have access to the school’s faculty. The classes offered are Principles of Design and Daylighting. Principles of Design is one of their undergraduate courses. The class entails readings and assignments related to historic periods, lighting, and color. Daylighting is a more advanced class that teaches students about daylighting and electric lighting. Reading, homework and a final design project are part of the class.
Open University: Open University offers multiple free interior design courses online. Their courses include Design Thinking, which is a 10-hour introductory course that looks at structure, repetition, and proportion. People-Centered Designing is a 12-hour course that focuses on designing for your customers. The course mainly focuses on product design, but the principles learned can easily be translated to the interior design of buildings and rooms. Designing for Dementia Care is an 8-hour course that teaches students how to design spaces to help make the lives of those suffering from Dementia easier.
Utah Education Network: The Family and Consumer Sciences Education division of the Utah Education Network provides education plans online for anyone to use. These lesson plans include links and activities for students. They have lesson plans for three interior design classes, they are Interior Design I, Interior Design II, and Advanced Interior Design. Those interested in these courses can take them on their own, or even use them to teach others. The lesson plans are appropriate for high school students through adults.
Decorating Studio: The Decorating Studio offers a free course that includes six lessons. This course was created by Susan Welch Heeney, a member of the American Society of Interior Design (ASID). This course teaches students the basics of interior design, including color, decorating styles, living rooms, and more.
Interior Design Resources
Sweet Home 3D: On SweetHome3D.com users can draw house plans, place furniture in the plans, then see what the plans will look like in 3D. They also offer a user’s guide, video tutorial, and photo gallery of sample house plans that have been created.
Colorjive: An interactive program that allows users to upload photos of the space they are designing and test out different paint colors. Users can view popular paint brands such as Benjamin-Moore and Sherwin-Williams.
OldHouseonline: A site created by Old House Journal and Old House Interiors magazines. The site includes endless amounts of articles on how-tos, period decorating, house restoration, and much more. This can be a valuable resource for those designing a historic home.
Homestyler®: Autodesk Homestyler is a free software program that allows users to create their own 2D and 3D floorplans. Users can view galleries of other rooms, decorate their floor plans with products and finishes, and share their plans with others.
Interior Design Community: This online community is a place for interior designers to share design news, advice, tech tips, and much more. The Interior Design Community is also active on all social media sites.