When you watch home makeover programs on HGTV you might mistakenly develop the impression that anyone can be an interior designer. And when a multi-week renovation is presented in a half-hour segment, it’s easy to see how the expertise and experience of designers can be lost in translation. But the truth is that becoming an interior designer takes more than just a flair for decorating and placing the furniture in various configurations. Without the right knowledge and skills on your side, no interior design firm will hire you, no matter how innovative your ideas. Luckily, there are plenty of options for schooling if you want to earn an interior design degree, and here are just a few benefits you’ll gain along the way.
Image via: Carolina Design Associates, LLC
1. Elements of design.
There are technical, artistic, theoretical, and historical aspects to the field of interior design, and the more you’re exposed to and the more you understand, the better chance you have of succeeding in your chosen career. If you’re smart, you’ll take in all you can during your time in school, but the path to a degree will at least instill in you the essential elements of design that are at the root of your trade.
2. Technical skills.
Having a creative instinct and the knowledge to put it to good use is only half the battle when it comes to interior design. You must also incorporate the technical skills that will help you to advance within the modern design industry, including both hardware and software engineered to turn your vision for a space into schematics, floor plans, and 3D images. Undertaking a degree program will give you access to training for AutoCAD (the most essential computer software used in the design industry), as well as the latest and greatest technologies available to professional interior designers.
3. Legal knowledge.
As an interior designer, part of your job will be to remodel interior spaces, including adding and removing walls, moving plumbing and electricity, and so on. So you need to be aware of building codes, permits, and other legal aspects of construction that must be adhered to. In addition, you may be responsible for crews of workers, meaning that liability is a potential issue. The point is that you might not have the knowledge you need to operate within the scope of the law if you don’t take the appropriate coursework provided by a degree program.
Image via: Bagnato Architects
Not all states require interior designers to be certified or licensed in order to work, but it’s in your best interest to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam anyway since it proves the highest level of knowledge and preparedness for your field. Of course, you will have to provide a college transcript to take it, but all states that mandate licensure for practice require you to pass this test. And it will almost certainly help you to get hired.
By attending an interior design program and earning a degree, you’re not only gaining the background information and skills needed to practice your craft, but you’re also proving to potential employers or clients that you’re prepared. Over time you’ll gain experience and make your own mark on the industry (building a portfolio along the way), but when you’re just starting you need the proper credentials if you want to be considered for hire. You wouldn’t necessarily expect to nab an executive position without first looking into real-world or online MBA degrees (or commensurate experience), and neither should you attempt to enter the field of interior design without the appropriate credentials to recommend you.
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