Interior Design Degrees

Interior designers step into bare spaces and see possibilities for redesign and renovation. Keeping the importance of not only aesthetic appeal but functionality in mind, they design and furnish residential, commercial, and industrial buildings. If you are artistic and creative, consider majoring in interior design. Students will learn how to create practical and beautiful indoor environments, but the major involves more than comparing color swatches; interior designers must be familiar with federal, state, and local interior design codes. They must also have strong interpersonal skills, as designers must communicate with contractors, electricians, carpenters, and clients. They will also need to work within budget constraints to fulfill clients' expectations.

Classes and Assignments of an Interior Design Major

Interior design majors will study everything that goes into planning and designing spaces, new and old. These could include homes, offices, retail spaces, and even health care facilities. Assignments are generally project based, and they allow students to showcase their ability to solve design obstacles. Design students learn how to use light, space, form, and color to enhance an environment. Courses will allow students to research design styles and materials, build drawing skills, and utilize technology to create floor plans. Some programs may also allow students to concentrate on residential design or commercial design, and an internship may be a required component for successful completion of a design program.

Degree Levels for an Interior Design Major

  • Associate. Design students who receive certificates or associate degrees in interior design generally qualify for positions as assistants to interior designers. However, a student must receive a bachelor's degree to be eligible for a formal design apprenticeship program. Online associate interior design degrees prepare students for further education, as credits earned may count toward a bachelor's degree.
  • Bachelor's. Students will learn about aspects of design such as spatial planning, ergonomics, and color and fabrics. Students who pursue online bachelors interior design degrees may go on to complete formal design apprenticeships, which can last anywhere from one to three years. Graduates will work in design or architecture firms with experienced designers before they work alone. After six years of combined education and experience, individuals can take the National Council for Interior Design's qualification exam. They must pass this exam to be federally licensed.
  • Master's. Online masters interior design degrees are similar to their undergraduate counterparts. However, some master's programs may require a thesis project, in which students may take an academic approach by pursuing research on emerging issues in the field.
  • Doctoral. The Ph.D. in interior design is geared toward those who would like to pursue careers in academia. At the Ph.D. level, students may also pursue degrees in related fields such as architecture or design research, which focuses on resource conservation and environmentally responsible design. As with other doctoral degrees, emphasis is placed on research. Online degrees in interior design at the doctoral degree level are widely available.

A Future as an Interior Design Major

Interior design majors often pursue careers in the industry or in aesthetic design-related fields, such as interior decorating or graphic designing. Others become architects, while some leave the industry altogether. Since interior design services are considered a luxury, demand for interior designers can suffer when the economy is slow. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the employment rate for interior designers to grow 19% through 2018, which is faster than the average for all occupations.

Interestingly, the demand for interior design services from the health care industry is expected to be largely responsible for this growth. Designers will need to create comfortable and homelike environments in nursing homes that will accommodate the aging population. The average yearly salary of interior designers is $52,100, according to the BLS as of May 2010. However, salaries vary widely based on specialty, employer, experience, and individual reputation, and BLS projections are not guaranteed.