How to become an Interior Designer

This article provides in-depth information into What is an Interior Designer? What Interior Designers do? Degrees for Interior Designers, Steps to become Interior Designer and much more.

Interior designers are artistic professionals who work with a combination of business handling and creative vision to design indoor, outdoor, and living spaces by interacting with the clients. They are specialized in particular fields such as green spaces, home decor, and corporate workspaces by choosing the right color patterns, lighting, and materials.

Here is a guide which details everything required to become an interior designer. Some steps are,

  • Earn a bachelor's degree from an accredited program
  • Clear the NCDIQ exam
  • Gain experience in related fields
  • Build an effective portfolio
  • Continue education to advance further

Career Title

Interior Designer

Degree Requirements

Bachelor’s degree  

Job Growth (2018- 2028)


Experience required

2 years

Salary (2020)


How long to become an Interior Designer

4 years

Required Skills

Creative, Passion, Imagination, Follow the latest trends


What does an Interior Designer do ?

On the basic level, they are responsible to create spaces but some duties of an interior designer include,

  • Conceptualize the client’s requirement

  • Prepare sketches of the design plans

  • Estimate the budget required to complete the project

  • Set a timeline to complete the interior design projects

  • Outline the recourse and materials required to execute the plan

  • Choose the right color, material, design to complement the project

  • Prepare blueprints of design and edit it

  • Use technology and computer software to enhance the designing process

  • Inspect the design to make sure they align with the client's goals.

Steps for becoming an Interior Designer


Earn A Bachelor’s Degree

Earning a bachelor’s degree is considered the minimum requirement to start your career. There is no specific field you can choose for this but you could choose the coursework in interior designing such as the drawing, computer-aided design (CAD).

After completing the bachelor's degree, you could also choose the other degree levels accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design(NASAD) and Council for Interior Design Accreditation.

Step 1 Earn a Bachelor’s degree


Pass The NCIDQ Exam

According to the state requirements you require licensure to work as interior designers. Hence you must clear the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam approved by the state. The requirements to take up this exam are having a bachelor's degree and a minimum of two years of work experience.

Step 2 Pass the NCIDQ Exam


Gain Experience

You could find it easier to get employed with your practical experience. You could start working at a small business and Non-Profit organizations to develop skills and gain experience. You could also serve at a local center or even design for your own homes which can fetch you better results in the long run.

Step 3 Gain experience


Build A Portfolio

You must now create a portfolio to represent your work. Make sure to take high-quality photographs of the work you designed to allow clients to focus on your potential and present yourself as a creative and well organized professional. This could also include your sketches, your ideas on the wide variety of projects.

We recommend you to have your portfolio on the line media as well to increase your network and credibility.

Step 4 Build a Portfolio


Continue Education

After obtaining the license and certification as an interior education, you could advance your career by pursuing the other degree level. The master's degree helps in enhancing the skills and gaining in-depth knowledge of the subjects. You could also choose to specialize in specific fields such as sustainable design, spatial theory, corporate interior design, and designing historic spaces. 

The tip we give you is to attend as many workshops, conferences, and summits which are hosted by the International Interior Design Association and the American Society of Interior Designers and the Interior Design Society to increase your marketability.

Step 5 Continue education

Interior Designer Salaries

Interior Designer

Interior Designer Degree Levels


The associate's degree in a two-year program which offers 60 credit hours to the students to gain the basic education required to start off the career soon. It acts as a stepping stone to the bachelor's degree with easy transfer of credits. The first year of the program focuses on the introduction to design and fundamentals in drawing and drafting. While the second year concentrates on the architectural lighting, color theory, and furniture history in addition to introductory business and marketing concepts.

The associate's degree helps in giving the introductory knowledge on the history of designing concepts that help you pursue your career as an interior designer. They are,

Modern Architecture & Design
  • Design history and different styles

  • Adapt past designs for present use

  • Interior and exterior design

  • Modernization of styles 

  • Knowledge of the design history and styles

  • Use the knowledge on past designs to create a new design for the present

  • Foundational knowledge in design history and different styles

History of Building Types
  • Evolution of common spaces.

  • Modernization of existing buildings

  • Different types of buildings

  • Adapt the historical designing concepts to present

  • Recognize the evolution of spaces

  • Framework for understanding the modernization of existing buildings

  • Multiple drawing techniques

  • Immersion in architectural drafting

  • Digital drawing software

  • Familiarity in drawing tools and techniques

  • Creating drawing drafts and multi designs according to client needs

  • Use technology and software to create accurate drawings.


We know that the bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement to become an interior designer, students learn the technical, business, and aesthetic skills in the four-year program. The program offers 120 to 160 credit hours where students can learn diverse courses such as drafting, design, 3D imaging, and space planning with the practical experience on project management, marketing, sales, and business development required for an entry-level job.

In the four-year program, students learn diverse coursework which prepares students with the minimum education required to enter into the professional field,

Design Theory
  • Historical influences on design approaches

  • Mindset of influential practitioners
  • Create designs relevant to present

  • Historical influence on modern designing

  • Evolution of the design approaches to various projects

  • Understand how to renovate the existing spaces to create a better design to impact on the present.

Textiles for Interiors
  • Estimating yardage and selecting fabrics

  • Outfitting protected properties

  • Maintaining fabric properly

  • Hands-on experience on the selection of fabric for specific projects 

  • Estimation of yardage

  • Maintenance of fabric property

The Business of Interior Design
  • Effective handling of clients and negotiations

  • Develop client proposals

  • Communication skills

  • Handle clients and manage the negotiation

  • Customer relationship management

  • Pitching the new ideas by conceptualizing the client requirement

  • Interacting well with clients to visualize their ideas and requirements.


The master’s degree in interior design is a two-year course that gives the courses to specialize in a particular field of interest. You could gain the benefits of enhanced researching skills, understanding the niche areas, analyze the scope of a vast industry, and stand out in the market of employment.

Residential Interior Design
  • Kitchen Design

  • Bathroom Design

  • Accessibility Design

  • To works with a variety of clients to improve their homes

  • Understand the unique needs

  • Requirements for designing safe, warm, and inviting domestic spaces

Restoration and Preservation
  • Landmark Design

  • Historic Residential Design

  • Museum Consultant

  • To work with a wide spectrum of historic spaces

  • Gain knowledge of preservation protocols

  • Special measures to maintain the integrity of historic designations

Commercial Design
  • Healthcare Facility Design

  • Corporate Office Design

  • Government Building Design

  • Gain knowledge of ergonomics

  • spatial development

  • Accessibility regulations


A Ph.D. in interior design helps students to learn the artistic techniques and principles to the professional designing, equipping, planning, and furnishing of residential and commercial spaces in-depth. This degree fetches your jobs with higher positions in academic and administrative positions in higher education and research; government and education consultation practices.

Design Methods
  • Developing design proposals

  • Document issues of the design process

  • Space planning and drawing Diagrams

  • Solving problems by intervening

  • Designing and developing a standard designing process

Interior Design Systems and Practices
  • Use of space and durability

  • Architectural products

  • Codes and regulations

  • Operating an interior design business

  • Issues related to living environments

  • Principles and elements of design

Design Planning and Analysis
  • Discovering and Defining Neighborhood

  • Past planning practices

  • Design process

  • Accessible

  • Cost-Effective

  • Historic Preservation


You could also choose the online certification program to become an interior designer. The online degrees are different from traditional programs at colleges and universities. This gives you an opportunity to learn the courses sooner with a flexible study plan. You could complete your coursework while gaining experience concurrently. There are many renowned interior design programs offering online learning options for students seeking a non-traditional education. Still, anyone interested in obtaining a degree online should do some research before enrolling at an institution.

Professional Practice
  • Setting Up Business

  • Managing Projects

  • Sketchbook studies

  • Basics of professional interior design practices

  • Business standards and ethics

  • Importance of sustainable design

Construction of Interiors
  • Foundations and External Walls

  • Structural Materials

  • Building Survey and Measured Drawings

  • Preconstruction and construction services

  • Improvement and interior renovation

  • Physical components of building construction

A History of Interior Design
  • Early Historical Styles

  • Towards Stylistic Variety

  • The Modern Age

  • Gothic cathedrals and Renaissance palaces

  • Grand civic spaces of the nineteenth century

  • Interiors of modern skyscrapers

Interior designer’s salaries

According to the Bureau of Labour statistics, in 2020 the average salary offered to an interior designer is about $46,551 annually and it typically ranges between $36,911 to $51,048. The salary earned depends on the education, certification, period of experience, and additional experience.

Job growth

The employment opportunities for an interior designer are projected to grow by about 4 percent during the period of 2018 to 2028, which is faster than the average growth of other jobs.

The career opportunities develop as the designer responds to customer expectations and also create spaces that can be easily navigated. There is scope for environment-friendly designing of spaces at home and office workspaces.