Many people confuse the title Interior Decorator and Interior Designer, but it takes a lot of work to become a certified Interior Designer. An Interior Decorator requires no certification or formal training. In fact, if you are helping people to decorate their interior spaces, and they are willing to let you showcase your decorating skills in a portfolio, you may be ready to open your own Interior Decorating business.
Becoming an Interior Designer requires much more knowledge and education than becoming an Interior Decorator. Interior Design is a true art form that involves a cultivated aesthetic for creating an interior space that is comfortable and pleasing, as well as the science and logistics of preparing work plans, reading blueprints and adhering to universal accessibility guidelines and codes. Unlike an Interior Decorator an Interior Designer requires certification by organizations such as The American Society of Interior or the Interior Designers of Canada. In fact, in 18 of the United States it is illegal to practice Interior Design without a certificate. In both the United States and Canada, Interior Designers are certified through the National Council for Interior Design Qualifications after passing the exam.
The first step in becoming a Certified Interior Designer is to find a school that is approved by the Certified Interior Decorators International (C.I.D) The C.I.D. has compiled and maintains a list of approved and accredited programs for you to review and choose from. You must have an Associates degree or Bachelor of Arts in order to apply for your C.I.D. You can expect an Interior Design program to take two to four years to complete.
There are approximately 300 postsecondary schools and institutions with programs in Interior Design. Usually, but depending on the school, you will have to submit sketches or other examples of artistic ability. Once you have a list of schools you are interested in, you should gather information regarding what each school requires in order to apply. Also something to consider is the schools focus. Does the school have a strong history with Commercial Interior Design or does it have a stronger history with Residential Interior Design. If you are interested in designing homes, then the latter would be the school for you.
In order to be an Interior Designer you must have the education and knowledge to consider the functional space of a room, ergonomics and efficiency when designing the interior space. Your course work will provide you with these skills. Depend on the school you attend, your classes will include CAD, drawing, perspective, spatial planning, color and fabrics, furniture design, architecture, ergonomics, ethics and psychology. These classes will prepare you for designing and reading blueprints, enhancing your knowledge of color and texture and learning to create viable options for your clients.
Once you complete the Interior Design program at an accredited institution, you will qualify to assist an Interior Designer. If you received a BA you will qualify for a formal design apprenticeship program. Your apprenticeship, which more than likely will take place at a design or architecture firm, will last from one year to three years and allow you to gain experience prior to working solo.