The interior design industry is growing and is expected to grow 17% by 2014.* Those interested in this career should have strengths in interpersonal communication and project management. Interior designers work on a regular basis with business and home owners, architects and various trades professionals from carpenters to electricians. Planning these projects will take good communication and the ability to plan around various schedules. Interior designers should also have an artistic and creative mind. Many times they will need to "think outside the box" to make a space work with both function and aesthetic design. Most interior designers work through the following steps: assess the needs of the client, make a plan for review, calculate the estimated cost, select materials to be used on the project, contact architects and other trade professionals if needed, set a timeline, and coordinate all materials and labor for the project thru to completion. It is quite a list, but many enjoy the challenge all the same. Does interior design sound like something you would enjoy? Then time to sign up for classes! This month we look at interior design schools, what to look for in the school and where they are located in your state. Perhaps it is time to begin that new career.
Part I: What to Look for in Interior Design Schools
The recommendation is that those interested in interior design get a postsecondary degree for most entry level positions. Besides a school education, many interior designers also do anywhere from 1-3 years of apprenticeship in the field. Gaining this "real-world" experience can be just as important as the school education. Therefore, consider schools that help prepare you for work inside and outside the classroom.
- Here are some items you should consider when choosing an interior design school:
- Take a look at class size and curriculum. The school should offer both theory and hands-on experience in labs, internships or other projects.
- Set up an interview with faculty and/or students along with a visit to the school. Some schools may let you sit in on a beginning level class for the day to get a feel for the school's culture and program style.
- Consider the area of interior design you want to specialize in when choosing a school. Some schools may have more experience or strengths in different specializations. Areas of specializations vary: Commercial Design, Residential Design, Hospitality Design, Healthcare Design, Green Design and so on.
- Get to know the faculty members via online bios or in-person interviews. Does their experience and expertise fit in with the type of interior design you wish to pursue?
- If required in your state, the school should help you prepare for the state interior design certification/competency exam.
- Check to see if the school you selected did the voluntary accreditation with the Council for Interior Design Accreditation or the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.
- Find out what type of apprenticeships are available or if students must arrange their own outside "real-world" experience.
- What kind of employment opportunities are available to graduates? The school should offer data about employment rates and a list of they types of employers their graduates work for.
- Does the school offer continuing education classes that you may take after graduation? You may need access to these types of classes to learn about innovations in the field or keep an active professional certification or license in your state.
Useful Interior Design Sites
American Society of Interior Designers
ASID is a community of people—designers, industry representatives, educators and students—committed to interior design. Through education, knowledge sharing, advocacy, community building and outreach, the Society strives to advance the interior design profession and, in the process, to demonstrate and celebrate the power of design to positively change people’s lives.
ASID: List of Registration Laws
Currently, 25 states and jurisdictions have licensing requirements for interior design practitioners. In many of these states, you cannot even call yourself an interior designer unless you meet or exceed a certain level of accredited education and in some cases pass the qualifying exam administered by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification. Regulation of interior design practice continues to become increasingly wide spread.
Careers in Interior Design
This website has been created by professional organizations as a service to individuals pursuing a career in Interior Design.
Council for Interior Design Accreditation
The Council for Interior Design Accreditation is an independent, non-profit accrediting organization for interior design education programs at colleges and universities in the United States and Canada.
Interior Design Educators Council, Inc.
The Interior Design Educators Council, Inc. (IDEC) was founded in 1963 and is dedicated to the advancement of education and research in interior design. IDEC fosters exchange of information, improvement of educational standards, and development of the body of knowledge relative to the quality of life and human performance in the interior environment.
The Interior Design Society
The Interior Design Society (IDS) was founded in 1973, and is the largest design organization exclusively dedicated to serving the residential interior design industry.
International Interior Design Association
The International Interior Design Association (IIDA) is a professional networking and educational association of more than 10,000 Members in 8 specialty Forums, 9 Regions, and more than 30 Chapters around the world committed to enhancing the quality of life through excellence in interior design and advancing interior design through knowledge.
The Library of Congress: Architecture and Interior Design
The Gottscho-Schleisner Collection is comprised of over 29,000 images primarily of architectural subjects, including interiors and exteriors of homes, stores, offices, factories, historic buildings, and other structures.
US Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Statistics and review of the Interior Design profession.