Interior designers create functional and aesthetically-pleasing residential, corporate, and even public spaces such as airports or public libraries. They work closely with architects, textile companies, and government agencies to create high-quality, safe environments that meet building and fire regulations.
Those who thrive in the field of interior design are creatively gifted, especially when it comes to drawing and creative decoration. However, these professionals also possess technical and presentation skills. They must be experienced with design tools such as AutoCAD, and know best business practices for working with clients, budgets, and deadlines.
Students interested in interior design certificate programs can look forward to acquiring foundational industry knowledge, as well as specialized skills on how to design green and sustainable environments.
Vocational certificates are becoming increasingly popular because they are less expensive than degree programs, require less time, and tend to be highly specialized. Students who apply to online and offline interior design certificate programs do so because they want to exclusively learn interior design — not receive a general education to go along with their specialized training.
Aspiring interior designers who have not received design training may find the certificate to be an optimal launching point for their career. The certificate can also benefit architects who want to gain knowledge about interior design and integrate those skills in their work.
The credentials required for admission into an online interior design school vary by institution. Some programs in the discipline, such as the Certificate Program in Interior Design and Interior Architecture offered through UC Berkeley Extension, only accept applicants with a bachelor’s degree. Other programs weigh candidates on the strengths of their applications alone.
Individuals who enroll in a certificate in interior design program will gain hands-on experience in the studio with drafting, lighting, and textiles. Courses focused on design history and theory are intended to complement the comprehensive curriculum; other courses include ‘AutoCAD,’ ‘Lighting Design,’ ‘Photoshop/Illustrator,’ ‘Space Planning,’ ‘Color Theory and Application for Interiors,’ and ‘Green: The Color of Our Future.’ Through these classes, students will learn how to how to design and present interior design solutions to future clients. The program also serves as a time for students to develop their portfolios, one of the essential parts of an interior designer’s profile in addition to training and experience.
The UC Berkeley Extension certificate also prepares students for qualification for the California Council of Interior Design exam (IDEX), and the National Council for Interior Design Qualification exam (NCIDQ).The IDEX must be taken by students to become a registered interior designers in California. Residents of other states need to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in order to attain licensure.
Those who complete vocational certificates in interior design are eligible to join student chapters of professional organizations, such as International Interior Design Association (IIDA), or American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). As members of professional organizations, students will have access to conference opportunities and grants; further, they will have an easier time staying updated on advances of the field.
What’s Next for Interior Design Certificate Holders?
Though receiving licensure upon graduation may be possible for students, most graduates will need to begin their careers with entry-level jobs in the field. They may find work as junior designers, designer assistants, retail design sales representatives, or decorative product specialists.
Professionals who are eligible to take the NCIDQ exam should have at least six years combined college-level and professional experience in interior design. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), registered interior designers earned a median salary of $48,400 in 2014. The BLS also reports that employment is slated to grow 4% between 2014 and 2024.
Interior design certificate holders may choose to pursue further education rather than seek employment. Students may work toward an associate or bachelor’s in interior design, depending on prior education. Additional degrees in the field include the master’s and doctorate in interior design.