4 Steps to Becoming a Junior Interior Designer

By: Georgia Schumacher Filed under: Interior Design

May 9, 2017

If your goal is to become an interior designer, you’ve chosen an exciting career—one that offers you the opportunity to design safe, accessible, and sustainable interior spaces for living, working, and everything in between. To achieve your career goals, you may need to start as a junior interior designer, growing your skills, learning the industry, and getting feedback on your work from senior designers. So how exactly do you become a junior interior designer and kick-start your career in interior design?

4 Steps to Becoming a Junior Interior Designer

Step 1: Pursue a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design
Having creative vision is a start, but it’s not enough to become an interior design professional. Beyond color, lighting, and fabric, interior design involves building codes, accessibility, and environmental design. To help you to succeed, you’ll need a formal education that teaches you specific technical knowledge and prepares you to interact with diverse businesses, homeowners, builders, architects, and even government agencies.

In fact, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that interior design jobs typically require a bachelor’s degree with courses in interior design, drawing, and computer-aided design. While you can find many campus and online Interior Design bachelor’s programs, programmatic accreditation from organizations like the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) can help you confirm that an Interior Design program meets industry standards.

Step 2: Build a strong portfolio of sample work
Finding your first interior design job without prior work experience can be tough. That’s where a portfolio comes in; displaying high-quality examples of your work compiled in a professional, well-organized portfolio (online and in print) will be crucial to starting your career.

Luckily, Interior Design programs often offer guidance on student portfolios. For example, in the online Interior Design program at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh—Online Division, we discuss portfolios across the curriculum and dedicate an entire class to assembling portfolios. The curriculum also includes an internship so that graduating students have more than just schoolwork to show off in their portfolio.

3. Apply for required state licenses
While requirements vary by state, in several states, only licensed designers can do interior design. In other states, unlicensed designers can do interior design work but can’t hold the title of interior designer. The most common state-approved exam is the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam, which requires test takers to have a bachelor’s degree in interior design and two years of experience. (California requires a different exam by the California Council for Interior Design Certification.)

4. Grow your network
While in college, take advantage of career services to search for jobs and connect with alumni in the field. College is also a great time to join professional organizations and attend industry events as many offer a discounted student rate. After graduating, stay in touch with your instructors and contacts from your internship; ask for their advice and mentorship on finding a job and establishing your reputation in the industry.

Locally, spread the word about your new skills and services to your neighbors, friends, family, community organizations, and businesses. Introduce yourself to other designers as well as contractors, decorators, merchandisers, and manufacturers who might have helpful advice or desire to work with you in the future. Even if an interior design firm doesn’t list an open junior interior designer job, you can contact them, introduce your work, and see if they’d like to meet up and chat; you never know where that introduction could lead!

Ready to get started? See how we can prepare you to become an interior designer! Learn about our Online Bachelor of Science in Interior Design today.

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The Art Institute of Pittsburgh—Online Division does not guarantee third-party certification/licensure. Outside agencies control the requirements for taking and passing certification/licensing exams and are subject to change without notice to The Art Institute of Pittsburgh—Online Division.

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By: Georgia Schumacher Filed under: Interior Design

May 9, 2017

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