Interior designers work with a variety of other fields including electricians, design firms, real estate companies, contractors, and architects to enhance the aesthetics, safety, and functionality of interior spaces.
Although creativity is a requirement, interior designers must also possess technical knowledge and a psychological understanding of human behavior to create functional and beautiful spaces.
This combination of skills is not an easy mix but signing up for the right program in California can help develop those skills.
If you live in California and interior design sounds like the best career path for you, keep reading to learn more!
Article Table of Contents
- 1 State Requirements for Interior Designers
- 2 5 Interior Design Schools in California
- 3 Salary
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions
State Requirements for Interior Designers
Like in other states, California requires specific work and educational requirements to take the NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Qualification) exam that is administered by the CIDQ (Council for Interior Design Qualification.
Those without formal training can still work in California as interior designers, they just cannot possess the title “interior designer” unless registered with the CCIDC (California Council for Interior Design Certification).
To become a California interior designer, you must earn at least a two-year associate degree in interior design with 40 semester hours or more and have four years of experience in the field with a licensed architect or interior designer.
However, the more education you acquire, the less work experience you need to take the exam.
5 Interior Design Schools in California
Academy of Art University
The Academy of Art University offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Architecture and Design degree that can be completed in-person or online.
This program offers rich online classes where students can share, present, and submit digital coursework.
The in-class program allows for a more traditional hands-on approach to interior design.
Students who complete this program qualify to take the NCIDQ exam to start their interior design career.
Tuition costs around $21,000 per year, whether on-campus or online, without room and board.
American River College
As one of the top interior design schools in California, American River College boasts an accredited design program alongside extremely low tuition.
The American River College program is a unique associate in interior planning and design, thus giving students a valuable dual skillset that opens future opportunities in the field.
Tuition is only $1,100 for in-state students and $9,000 per year for non-residents.
California State University at Long Beach
Cal State at Long Beach has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design degree that has earned an international reputation of being an incredible program.
This has enticed students from across the globe to come to Long Beach for their studies.
In addition to the normal coursework, Cal State at Long Beach also provides interior design employment opportunities for students post-graduation, and the staff works hard to prepare students for the NCIDQ exam.
Las Positas College
Las Positas College is another community college that offers a leading interior design degree.
Students can earn a certificate in about a year or an associate degree in two years.
Las Positas College also offers evening classes to accommodate those who work during the day and are going back to school to make a career change or enhance their current skills.
In-state tuition is also extremely affordable at $1,100 for in-state students and $8,000 for out-of-state.
Sacramento State University
Sacramento State University also has a Bachelor of Arts in Interior Design degree with various concentrations, including one in Interior Architecture, which provides students with the critical thinking, creative, and technical skills to enter the profession.
Courses include interior composition, CAD, space preparation, lighting, graphics, aesthetics, design history and theory, and much more.
The school also encourages students to do internships during the coursework to gain experience while in school.
Interior Design Schools in California – Summary Table
|Academy of Art University||79 New Montgomery St. San Francisco, CA 94105|
|American River College||4700 College Oak Drive Sacramento, CA 95841|
|California State University at Long Beach||1250 Bellflower Boulevard Long Beach, California 90840|
|Las Positas College||3000 Campus Hill Dr, Livermore, CA 94551|
|California State University, Sacramento||6000 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95819|
While the salary can vary greatly in California between small towns and cities, the median income is $55,000 with pay ranging from $33,000 to $65,000 annually in the Los Angeles area.
In a smaller city like Ontario, the range drops to $31,000 – $61,000 with a median income of $52,000.Annual Salary Range:
|Location||Avg. Annual Salary|
Frequently Asked Questions
Does California require an interior designer license?
No, there is no registration or licensing for interior designers in the State of California.
The only litigation recognized by the state is the Certified Interior Designer’s Tite Act.
It determines eligibility for a person to be certified within the state.
What work experience is required in California?
In addition to the minimum associate degree of 40 semester hours, you must have four years of full-time work experience.
Those with an associate degree and 60 semester hours or more only require three years of experience.
Those with a bachelor’s degree must complete two years of full-time work experience.
Finally, those with a bachelor’s degree in architecture are required to gain three years of experience.
What is a certified interior designer?
California law dictates a certified interior designer to be one who prepares and submits non-seismic or nonstructural plans to local departments that require the skills of a licensed contractor to implement, ad who engages in documenting, designing, planning, and the programming of construction and installation of interior finishes.
Certified interior designers have demonstrated their skills via examination, experience, and education, all of which enhance the welfare, safety, and health of the public.
Read the full guide: How to Become a Certified Interior Designer