How to Become an Interior Designer

If you want to become an interior designer, you will already be a highly motivated. Interior design is in many ways a an art form because it has a creative design environment, with high aesthetic values and personal input at all levels of design. Education in this field often involves both training and an apprenticeship for full qualification.

Education and training

A Bachelors degree is the recommended entry level qualification. Applicants may be required to supply examples of their work in the form of sketches and designs.  These courses are accredited by the National Schools of Art and Design. The training includes:

  • CAD design
  • Drawing
  • Perspective
  • Spatial planning
  • Color and fabrics
  • Furniture design
  • Ergonomics
  • Ethics
  • Psychology

There are also special Bachelors degree courses in interior design offered by 145 colleges as part of the arts, architecture and home economics functions of the colleges. The Bachelors degree courses are accredited by the National Council for Interior Design Accreditation, an industry association.


Apprenticeships involve supervised training in a commercial environment. These are 1-3 year apprenticeships, which provide both experience and industry exposure. The apprenticeships also include valuable mentoring and design workshops for further skills training.


23 states require interior designers to be licensed. To be eligible for an interior design license, applicants must have completed a combined 6 years education and experience, 2 years of which must be post-secondary. To obtain a license, applicants must pass an exam conducted by the National Council for Interior Design Accreditation. Successful candidates are then awarded the titles of Certified, Licensed, or Registered Interior Designer, depending on the state legislation. In these cases, ongoing education is required to maintain the license.

Types of interior design jobs

Both residential and commercial positions are lucrative, and should be kept in view for career purposes when assessing job opportunities. It is possible to move between streams easily, because of the common aspects of design. In commercial interior design, the design function is however much more complex, often involving major design issues and extensive planning and use of CAD design. The two basic differences are:

  • Residential: This is the classic interior design job, remodeling or creating designs for new residences.  
  • Commercial: The interior design of commercial premises, like offices, hotels, movie theaters, auditoriums, or other major buildings. 

The business element

Interior designers work as employees, self employed, and as contract or commissioned consultants. Interior design is a high cash flow industry, and careers can be materially rewarding as well as artistically satisfying. Successful interior designers are also successful business people. It may be necessary to take additional formal training for those intending to operate businesses.