Interior design is a rewarding and fun profession for those who enjoy marrying technical skills with creativity.
This profession requires knowledge of universal accessibility and safety requirements, an understanding of industry techniques and standards, and an elevated level of attention to detail.
You could be responsible for designing all types of interior spaces ranging from community centers to government institutions, recreational buildings, one-bedroom apartments, or retail locations.
If this sounds like a career path you are interested in pursuing, keep reading to learn more!
Article Table of Contents
- 1 Pennsylvania Requirements for Interior Designers
- 2 5 Interior Design Schools in Pennsylvania
- 3 Salary
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions
- 4.1 What are the certification requirements?
- 4.2 What does the NCIDQ exam consist of?
- 4.3 What are the fees for taking the NCIDQ exam?
- 4.4 Is it possible to become an interior designer in Pennsylvania without a degree?
- 4.5 Can interior design become a side hustle while working at a large firm in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania Requirements for Interior Designers
The interior design profession is not regulated at the federal level.
Instead, individual states dictate the laws related to the governance of the interior design profession.
Now, Pennsylvania-based interior designers are not required to follow any licensing or registration requirements.
However, one law that Pennsylvania has in place is interior designers cannot practice in code-based locations.
This means that structural modifications cannot be made to a building unless overseen by a licensed architect.
The Pennsylvania International Interior Design Association is advocating for new laws that would allow interior designers to perform structural modifications if they are registered or licensed by the state.
Although not required, most employers prefer candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree in interior design.
Some employers will hire candidates with lesser degrees but at least a few years of work experience in the field.
To differentiate from the competition, completing a master’s degree in interior design, earning a national certification, or participating in an apprenticeship will deliver more opportunities.
Each of these options shows potential employers that you are willing to go beyond to carve a successful career path within the industry.
5 Interior Design Schools in Pennsylvania
With major cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has a variety of interior design schools from which to choose.
Several of the best include:
Located in Pittsburgh, Chatham University offers students the chance to earn a Bachelor of Interior Architecture degree, which is a four-year program.
Tuition for this program, including room and board, is $35,000 per year.
Located in the University City neighborhood of Philadelphia, Drexel University is considered the top interior design school in Pennsylvania and offers a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design degree, which is also a four-year program.
While tuition is incredibly expensive at $53,000 per year, the interior design program is top-notch.
Considered the second-best interior design school in Pennsylvania, Marywood University is based in Scranton and has a tiny bachelor’s degree enrollment of 453 candidates.
With only an acceptance rate of 75%, Marywood is a somewhat difficult school to get into.
Tuition and fees run around $50,000 per year.
Located in Erie, Mercyhurst University has somewhat competitive admission criteria with an acceptance rate of only 69%.
Considered the third-best interior design school in Pennsylvania, Mercyhurst costs almost $52,000 per year to attend.
Moore College of Art and Design
Also located in Philadelphia is the Moore College of Art and Design, which has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design four-year program.
Tuition, including room and board, and fees total around $42,000 per year.
Interior Design Schools in Pennsylvania – Summary Table
|Chatham university||Woodland Rd, Pittsburgh, PA 15232|
|Drexel University||3141 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19104|
|Marywood University||2300 Adams Ave, Scranton, PA 18509|
|Mercyhurst University||501 E 38th St, Erie, PA 16546|
|Moore College of Art and Design||1916 Race St, Philadelphia, PA 19103|
Compared to a national median income of $49,000, Philadelphia has a slightly higher average of $52,000, while Pittsburgh is on par with the average of $48,000.Annual Salary Range:
|Location||Avg. Annual Salary|
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the certification requirements?
It is possible to find employment in Pennsylvania without having a national interior design certification.
While this credential is voluntary, there are countless benefits for earning one of these three certificates, including a salary increase.
The NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Qualification) certification is provided through the CIDQ (Council for Interior Design Qualification).
To become eligible for this certification, you must have a bachelor’s degree with two years of experience in the field.
Those with lesser degrees but three-to-four years of experience are eligible to take the exam.
What does the NCIDQ exam consist of?
There are three parts to this national certification exam: IDFX (Interior Design Fundaments), IDPX (Interior Design Professional), and PRAC (Practicum).
What are the fees for taking the NCIDQ exam?
The IDFX requires a registration fee of $295, the IDPX has a cost of $350, while the PRAC carries a registration fee of $455.
Once you have passed all sections, you can receive the NCIDQ certification.
Each year, you must pay a $75 fee to maintain the certification.
For those who wish to earn this certification, but do not have the work experience to be eligible, you can take the IDFX portion.
To be eligible for this segment, you must be in the final year of a bachelor’s or master’s degree program or have just graduated.
This requires a $95 application fee and a $295 registration fee.
You can complete the remaining two sections once you have two years of work experience.
Is it possible to become an interior designer in Pennsylvania without a degree?
It is certainly possible to become an interior designer in Pennsylvania without a degree, but you will likely need considerable work experience to impress employers.
While employers recognize some undergraduate qualifications, it is advisable to earn a degree.
Can interior design become a side hustle while working at a large firm in Pennsylvania?
As a full-time employee of an interior design firm, you will probably be restricted on what freelancing you can do outside the company.
Since most companies have policies that make them the legal owners of intellectual property and inventions created by an employee, you will know about specific designs that cannot be shared with other clients.
Also, most companies have a non-compete clause that prohibits employees from engaging in or starting business activities that could be considered competition.
Read the full guide: How to Become a Certified Interior Designer