So you want to be a professional interior designer. That’s great! The best way to get started is to attend interior design school. And whether you are a recent high school graduate, soon to earn your diploma or someone who is making a career change, deciding which school to attend and which interior design courses to take is a big decision to make.
This article will give you some tips on how to choose an interior design school.
Choose the Right School For You, Not The Best One
Interior design is a highly competitive field for those with an artistic flair. Formal training can be an important start down the interior design career path to expand your design skills, but choosing the right school can be tricky. There are several factors to consider, including your financial situation, career goals, and personality. You will want to have a decent grasp on everything from location and size to culture on top of the educational offerings and interior design faculty.
Because of all of these factors, the school that is considered to be the “best” can actually become the worst if it doesn’t jive with your style. It’s easy to get caught up in trying to get into this or that school because it is considered to be prestigious, but a school can be universally accepted as the best, and be a total disaster for you at the same time. The fit is more important than the school’s reputation.
On the other side of the argument, however, if a reputable institution is a good fit for you, you might find that you have a better launchpad for gaining employment. Well-respected design schools will be well-connected to the industry to help you network and find a job. You’ll also build a good portfolio and perhaps even have an internship or apprenticeship as part of your interior design program to give you professional practice in the field.
Look For Your Field of Interest
Since interior design is a very broad field, you should take some time to figure out your general field of interest or potential career path, then look at the school’s curriculum to see if they offer programs and interior design courses related to your interests. It’s OK if you don’t know exactly what you want to do right away, and going through this process can actually help you figure it out. It certainly helps put you in a good position if you can come up with a general idea of what you see yourself doing.
The top design schools will have a variety of courses to choose from, which will help you narrow your scope down the road. In this way, you can also become more well-rounded as an interior designer and have a greater technical knowledge of the field. And yes, you will need to get familiar with the computer so there will be plenty of technological courses involved. Each interior design course can be a little different, so if you want to focus on architectural design or space planning, for example, be sure to look at the elective courses that the school offers to expand your design skills.
Find an Accredited Institution
While a school’s reputation is important, accreditation is perhaps even more vital to getting started. You will have licensing requirements when you are looking to start your career, which varies from state to state, but will generally require a combination of education and work experience. You meet the educational requirement by attending schools that are recognized as accredited institutions in their state. One such accrediting body to look for as a prospective interior design student is the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA). This accreditation enables students to qualify to take the national certification exam offered by the National Council of Interior Design Qualification.
Associate’s Degree or Bachelor’s Degree?
There are both associate and bachelor’s degree programs available for interior design. You should choose the one that best aligns with your career goals. You can begin your career as a design assistant after attending a two-year associate degree program, while those who wish to start as an entry-level interior designer should go for the four-year bachelor’s degree. Transfer students can also start with a two-year program and transfer the credits toward a four-year degree.
Remember, You Don’t Have To Go To a Traditional College
Traditional college isn’t the only route to take for future interior designers. There are plenty of programs online that you can take to learn your craft, as well as a ton of free resources if you want to go the DIY route. Whether you’re interested in taking courses on interior architecture, sustainable design, residential design, or if you want to take a computer-aided design route, there are many elective courses and certificates that you can complete. Online courses are also available and make it possible to attend a reputable school from wherever you are located.
Choose whatever route is best for you, rather than picking a school based on “wherever I get in.” There is so much out there that you no longer need to attend university to start your career. While it can give you a leg up and gives you the best platform to learn, it isn’t the only way. So don’t get discouraged!
If you think a career in interior design is right for you, call NewSchool of Architecture and Design today to learn about our certificate in interior design for architects!