How to Become an Interior Designer in 4 Simple Steps

What is an Interior Designer

Interior designers plan, design, and implement the decoration of the inside of buildings. This can be workplaces, private homes, commercial buildings, and any other form of property. If you have a creative-side and love planning and designing continue and learn how to become an interior designer.

The role often involves long and unsociable hours, but most experienced interior designers will tell you the end result is worth the effort. There is a large amount of satisfaction seeing your own visions come to life and this is part of the role.

What Does an Interior Designer Do?

Interior designers decorate, fit out, redesign, and develop the inside of buildings. This often involves meeting with the property owners (clients), discussing their needs and putting together a package with your ideas for the space and how you will execute them.

You need to be up-to-date with the latest in internal design fashion and trends. Have a comprehensive understanding of the different materials available and which are best to use. As well as being able to manage costs and offer the best value.

Designers often do not get involved in the manual labor side of the work. So managing staff, contractors and other tradesmen is a large part of the role. So being able to project manage and communicate well is a key to a successful project.

Many designers will specialize in a particular type of building. There is a big difference between a small personal property and a large office block. Some of the principles are the same, but there are some areas of specialization that are needed for different buildings. As well as different laws and regulations.

The average salary of an interior designer is $53,370.

Some of the key duties of an interior designer include:

  • Creating innovate and practical designs for building spaces
  • Generating new ideas and working with clients to meet their goals
  • Working with IT design packages
  • Project managing the design process, including managing staff and contractors
  • Ensuring tight deadlines are met

Desirable Skills of an Interior Designer

There are a wide range of roles for interior designers. Working on different type of buildings require different skill-sets and approaches. There are however some core skills that make becoming an interior designer a lot easier and will help you in the role.

Being Naturally Creative

You will be taking a blank canvas and making a masterpiece in the eyes of the clients. So the ability to be creative and unique is often a desirable skill that helps keep clients happy with the results.

Good Organization Skills

Interior designers often have to manage other people and materials to strict deadlines. Being organized and able to project manage is a vital skill to bring to the role. Missing deadlines can prove very costly.

Good IT Skills

There aren’t many roles that do not require good IT skills and being an interior designer is no different. Most of the planning phase involves laying out designs on computer software and communicating via email to clients.

Good People Skills

You will rarely secure a deal without speaking with the clients in person. If you’re not responsible for this level of care, you will have to communicate with other team members, suppliers and contractors.

What is an Interior Designer

Becoming an Interior Designer

Step 1: High School Requirements

High School Courses for Interior Designers

Family and Consumer Sciences

At family and consumer class you will be taught some of the basic interior design basics like: money management, sewing and home furnishing. Although you will not be making your own home goods, you should know how they are produced in order to be capable of choosing and providing top quality products to your clients.


Art classes will give you an understanding of basic art techniques and theories. You will also learn about complimentary colors, perspective and lighting, stuff that will be really useful for your career. You will also study in depth art history that will help you understand the styles of various time periods and borrow elements from them when working on a project.

Business and Marketing

The majority of interior designers work as freelancers according to Meaning that they are responsible for advertising, marketing, finding clients communicating with them and keeping them happy. Business classes will teach you how to design business cards, write business letters, communicate professionally with clients and how to create invoices to bill your clients.

Step 2: Get an Undergraduate Degree

Interior Design Certificate Program 1 year –  2 years

The admission requirements for these programs are a high school diploma or a GED. They last 1 to 2 years and they consist from 24 to 34 credits.


Core Courses (24)

  • Introduction to Interior Design
  • Color Theory and Its Application
  • Drafting I
  • Drafting II
  • Building Codes
  • Materials and Resources for Interior Design
  • History of Architectural Interiors I
  • Space Planning
  • Perspective Drawing
  • Business Practices for Interior Designers

Elective Courses (10 credits)

  • Introduction to Design Sketching
  • Sustainable Interior Design
  • Decorating and Designing for the Home: The Basics
  • Designing with Light
  • CAD for Interior Design
  • Interior Design Internship
  • History of Architectural Interiors and Furniture II
  • Residential Interior Design
  • Window Treatments — Draperies, Shades, Blinds and Shutters
  • Interior Design: Selling at the Retail Level
  • Home Decorating for the Holidays
  • Introduction to ARCHline XP: Computer Aided Design
  • Introduction to Furniture Design
  • Kitchen and Bath Design

The cost of an interior design certificate program is $4,000 – $21,960.

Interior Design Associates Degree Program 2 years

Depending on the college you will apply admission requirements vary. The most commons are:

  • High School Diploma
  • Show some computer proficiency
  • Have a portfolio

They are 2 year program consisting of 60 to 75 semester credit hours.


General Education Requirements (21 credits)

  • Composition I
  • Composition II
  • Electronic Spreadsheets
  • Technology and Society
  • College Mathematics I: Reasoning and Application
  • Human Relations
  • Oral Communication
  • Workplace Communication

Core Courses (44 Credits)

  • Art and Architecture I (Antiquity to Renaissance)
  • Introduction to Interior Design
  • Workroom Practices
  • Interior Design Business Practices
  • Textiles
  • Space Planning I
  • Space Planning II
  • Interior Design Graphics
  • Introduction to CAD
  • Interior Design Sales
  • History of Furnishing
  • Rendering Techniques and Perspectives
  • 20-20 CAD
  • Building Systems
  • Studio Bath
  • Studio Kitchen
  • Portfolio Projects
  • Professional Career Strategies

Electives (8 credits)

  • Computer Aided Architectural Drawing I
  • Interior Design CAD
  • Kitchen and Bath Design Work Experience
  • Work Experience

The cost of an interior design associates degree program is $9,936 – $96,200.

Interior Design Bachelor Degree Program 4 Years

Admission Requirements:

  • High School Diploma with a GPA over 2.0
  • Portfolio

These are 4 years programs that consist of 90 to 180 semester credit hours


General Education Courses (55 Credits)

  • Modern Architecture I:
  • Modern Architecture II: 1900-Present
  • Survey of World Architecture and Urbanism*
  • World Vernacular Architecture*
  • Survey of Western Art I
  • Survey of Western Art II
  • Speaking of Ideas
  • Composition
  • Advanced Composition
  • Art History: Prehistory to the Early Modern Era
  • Physics

Core Courses (80 credits)

  • Design Fundamentals
  • Observational Drawing
  • Perspective Drawing
  • Applications & Industry
  • Architectural Drafting
  • Introduction to Interior Design
  • Sketching and Ideation
  • History of Architecture, Interiors, and Furniture I
  • Space Planning
  • Design Basics 3D
  • Textiles
  • Materials & Specifications
  • Textiles
  • Presentation Techniques
  • CAD II
  • History of Architecture, Interiors & Furniture II
  • Codes & Regulations
  • Residential Design I
  • Human Factors
  • Lighting
  • Commercial Design I
  • Space Planning
  • Interior Detailing
  • Construction Documents I
  • Residential Design II
  • Digital Modeling I
  • Professional Practice
  • Academic Director approval
  • Global Design
  • Digital Modeling II
  • Building & Mechanical Systems
  • Codes & Regulations
  • Environmental & Sustainable Design
  • Commercial Design II
  • Hospitality Design
  • Senior Studio I
  • Internship
  • Academic Director Approval
  • Portfolio

Electives (12 credits)

  • Residential Design – Kitchen and Bath
  • Architectural Design Conceptualization
  • Sustainable Practices for Residential Design
  • Sustainable Building Principles and Practices

The cost of an interior design bachelor degree program is $87,500 – $175,409.

Step 3: Get a Graduate Degree (Optional)

Master of Arts in Interior Design Degree Program 2 years

Admission Requirements:

  • A Bachelor Degree in interior design
  • Portfolio
  • A grade point average of 3.2
  • 3 letters of recommendation

These are 2 year programs consisted of 40 – 60 semester credit hours.


  • Design Studio 1
  • Interior Design Survey
  • Representation and Spatial Analysis
  • Materials and Performance
  • Design Studio 2
  • Theory of the Interior
  • Ethnography and Design
  • Fabrication and Processes
  • Design Studio 3
  • Environmental Technology 1: Lecture
  • Environmental Technology 1: Recitation
  • Research for Master’s Thesis
  • Design Studio 4: Thesis
  • Professional Practice
  • Thesis Seminar

The cost of a master of arts in interior design degree program is $54,900 – $97,200.

Step 4: Get Licensed

It is not mandatory to get licensed in all states but it is strongly recommended to get licensed even if your state doesn’t ask for it. You will be required to pass a state exam the (NCIDQ) National Council for Interior Design Qualification exam


Option 1

  • Bachelor degree
  • 3,520 hours of working experience as an interior designer

Option 2

  • Associates degree(of at least 60 semester credit hours)
  • 5,280 hours of working experience as an interior designer


Computer based test consisted of 250 multiple choice questions divided in two sections and a practicum section.

Cost: $1,310

How Long Does it Take to Become an Interior Designer and How Much Does it Cost?

Option 1 : Certificate

Degree Time Cost
Certificate 6 months to 18 months$4,000 – $21,960
Certification 1 month$1,310
Total 6 months to 18 months$5,310- $23,270

Option 2 : Associate’s Degree

Degree Time Cost
Associates Degree2 years$9,936 – $96,200
Certification $1,310
Total 2 years $11,246 – $97,510

Option 3 : Bachelor’s Degree

Degree Time Cost
Bachelor’s 4 years$87,500 – $175,409
Certification $1,310
Total 4 years$88,810 – $176,719

Option 4: Master’s Degree

DegreeTime Cost
Bachelor’s 4 years$87,500 – $175,409
Master’s2 years$54,900 – $97,200
Total6 years $143,710- $264,219

Interior Designer Training Video

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on email

Noel Griffith

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.