Being an interior designer is an exciting and creative career.
If you love to design spaces that are both beautiful and functional, interior design could be a great career for you.
Using your own artistic muse, you can help make an ordinary space into something great for your clients, and even for yourself!
Interior design can be very fulfilling because you can visually see the change and progress you are making.
It is also a wonderful experience to create something that your client loves and is proud of.
To become an interior designer, you will need to research what your state requires for schooling and licensing.
In most states, you can take some interior design courses and get an interior design diploma or degree.
Many states, however, do not have a lot of options for in-person interior design programs.
Trying an online program is a great option, but it has some pros and cons.
Article Table of Contents
- 1 What Courses Are in an Online Interior Design Program?
- 2 Can You Earn an Interior Design Certification Completely Online?
- 3 How Long Does it Take to Earn an Interior Design Certification Online?
- 4 How Much Does an Online Interior Design Certification Cost?
- 5 Types of Interior Design Certifications
- 6 Benefits of Online Interior Design Programs
- 7 Drawbacks of Online Interior Design Programs
- 8 Benefits and Drawbacks of Online Interior Design Programs – Summary Table
- 9 4 Self-Study Tips for Interior Design Online Students
- 10 Schools Offering Online Interior Design Training Programs
- 11 Summary
- 12 Sources
- 13 Frequently Asked Questions
What Courses Are in an Online Interior Design Program?
Interior design programs have a variety of courses you take to learn about all facets of interior design.
The courses you take online will be very similar to what you take in person.
Interior design is not just a series of courses on fabrics and designs, although that is certainly part of it.
You will also study the history of design and architecture, decoration, space planning, lighting, colors, finishes, and so much more.
Here is a list of classes you could potentially see on a course list for an online interior design program:
- Spatial Planning
- Computer-Aided Design Software
- Drawing and Perspective
- Color Theory
- Furniture Design
- Project Management
The vast array of courses you will take for your interior design degree is all very important to become an effective interior designer.
Studying architecture and history will help you understand how the designs of ancient history can still be relevant today.
Can You Earn an Interior Design Certification Completely Online?
Yes, you can now earn an interior design certification completely online.
In recent years, there have been virtual design programs that are designed specifically for interior design.
With this new software, you can place furniture, colors, and textures in a virtual space and see how it looks.
Some stores, like Ikea and other furniture and decor outlets, have started to adopt this technology for their own retail purposes.
Using virtual classrooms, zoom calls, and these software options, you can earn an entire interior design certificate online, with no need for any in-person interaction.
How Long Does it Take to Earn an Interior Design Certification Online?
The length of your online interior design certification greatly depends on what program you choose and what your state requires.
Most programs that are exclusively offered online come with course modules that you can take at your own pace.
For example, the all-online-only school, The Interior Design Institute, can be done in twelve modules.
These can be done for 4-6 hours a week for 24 weeks.
By contrast, you can also do a program designed for in-person learning in an online environment and do a traditional four-year degree.
How Much Does an Online Interior Design Certification Cost?
An online interior design certification can differ greatly in cost depending on the amount of time your program takes and what kind of certification you receive at the end of your program.
For example, the 24-week program at the Interior Design Institute costs a total of $1,400, whereas an online four-year degree at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design for Interior Design is $602 per credit hour.
An online four-year degree is absolutely essential in some states, but it is much more expensive.
If you live in a state with no licensing requirements, you can practice interior design with only a certificate.
In these cases, courses with modules like the Interior Design Institute would be a wiser use of your money.
Types of Interior Design Certifications
There are several types of interior design certifications.
Again, it is important to do your research and consider what the requirements for education and licensing are in your specific state.
Another great reason to get an interior design certification or improve your education, even if it is not required for your specific state, is to gain higher-profile clients and ask for more money for your interior design business.
Certification types for Interior Design include:
- National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ)
- American Academy of Healthcare Interior Designers (AAHID)
- American Lighting Specialist (ALA)
- Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA)
- Certified Interior Decorator (CID)
- Interior Design Continuing Education Council (IDCEC)
- International WELL Building Institute (IWBI)
- Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
- National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)
- National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI)
- National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA)
The National Council for Interior Design Qualification is the most popular and prestigious of the certifications, and getting this certification has its own requirements.
You must take twelve hours of continuing education courses every two years to maintain this NCIDQ certification.
You also can get a four-year degree in Interior Design, which will also result in one of the above certifications.
Benefits of Online Interior Design Programs
Because interior design is a physical business, it can seem like it should be done in person.
However, that is simply not the case anymore.
With new technologies in education and in interior design, you can complete an interior design program online from the comfort of your own home.
There are some pros and cons to this kind of program.
Here are a few benefits to an online interior design program.
You Can Do It Anywhere
An online interior design program, like other online programs, can be done from anywhere.
This means that if you live in a state that does not have many options for interior design programs, you can still get a certificate or degree online.
You Can Go at Your Own Pace
Unlike in-person programs that may be harder to do at a slower pace, you can do an online interior design program at your own pace and in your own time.
If there is a season of life where you need to take a break or take fewer classes, you can do that easily without losing your progress.
There are also fewer deadlines and due dates, so you can truly work at your own pace.
It Is Better For Your Finances
Not only is online school cheaper than in-person school, but you also save money on other costs.
Your resources are all digital, you do not have to pay for any commuting costs, and you can live at home.
Doing online schooling can help you to save money in the long run, even though it may take a little bit longer to complete.
Drawbacks of Online Interior Design Programs
In any type of program, there will be pros and cons.
Because interior design deals mostly with tangible physical spaces, there are some disadvantages and drawbacks to choosing an online program to study interior design.
Here are a few drawbacks you can expect if you choose an online program.
Lack of Motivation
If you are an individual who thrives in an environment with a lot of accountability, then online courses may not work for you.
With deadlines that are not as strict and no one to keep you moving, it may be hard to stay motivated enough to get things done.
If you need structure in order to stay motivated, you may need to try another option.
In an in-person interior design training program, you may have group projects, class learning, and interaction with professors.
If you are doing online programs, you will work almost exclusively independently.
While there are mentoring programs and zoom classes available, your work will be mostly independent.
You will not participate in group learning or projects, and your interactions with other students and professors will be very limited.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Online Interior Design Programs – Summary Table
|Benefits of Online Interior Design Programs||Drawbacks of Online Interior Design Programs|
|You Can Do It Anywhere||Lack of Motivation|
|You Can Go at Your Own Pace||Independent Work|
|It Is Better For Your Finances|
4 Self-Study Tips for Interior Design Online Students
Get Dressed for The Day, Even If You Are Staying Home
Even if you are studying and doing your course work from your own home, get up, eat a good breakfast, have a cup of your favorite morning beverage, and get dressed for the day.
Many professionals say that getting ready for the day changes your mindset and enables you to be more productive throughout your study time.
Have a Designated Study Space
Have a specific place where you keep your interior design supplies and computer and study in this space every day.
Make sure this space is different than your bed or your couch.
Your brain will make the association that your study space is for just that: studying.
Having your materials handy in this space will also eliminate the distraction of having to locate all your supplies every time you sit down to study.
Take Away All Distractions
Turn off your cell phone for a few hours, ask your partner or a family member to watch the kids for a while, and turn off the television.
Distractions can slow your study pace and make you lose motivation to get things done.
Reach Out to Others
Just because you are doing online courses does not mean you cannot create a network with your classmates and professors.
Developing relationships with others who are doing the same thing you are can increase your motivation levels and help you be more productive.
Having the accountability of others who know when you have due dates can also increase your productivity.
This is possible even with online classes.
You can create zoom rooms or social media groups to keep up with your fellow interior designers.
Schools Offering Online Interior Design Training Programs
|Interior Design Institute||75 Broadway Suite 202 San Francisco, CA 94111|
|NEW YORK SCHOOL OF INTERIOR DESIGN||170 East 70th Street New York, NY 10021|
|Miami International University of Art & Design Global Campus||1501 Biscayne Boulevard, Suite 100 Miami, FL 33132-1418|
|New York Institute of Art and Design||41 East 11th Street, 11th Floor, Suite 66 New York, New York|
|Texas A&M International University||5201 University Boulevard Laredo, Texas 78041|
|Century College||3300 Century Ave N White Bear Lake, MN 55110|
|School of Interior Architecture & Design||79 New Montgomery St. San Francisco, CA 94105|
|Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design||1600 Pierce Street Denver, CO, 80214|
|Kennesaw State University - College of Professional Education||3333 Busbee Drive, #3301 Kennesaw, Georgia 30144|
|Central Piedmont Community College||1141 Elizabeth Ave, Charlotte, NC 28204|
|The New School||66 West 12th Street New York, NY 10011|
|American River College||4700 College Oak Drive Sacramento, CA 95841|
|Berkeley College||East 43rd Street, New York, NY 10017|
All in all, there are many online options for interior design programs.
Many of them are just as prestigious as some of the top in-person interior design programs in the United States.
There are many pros and cons to taking online courses, but online courses can often be the perfect opportunity for people in life situations where they cannot dedicate all of their time to their education.
Using an online interior design program, you can work at your own pace and complete the program in line with your own goals.
Although there are some minor drawbacks, if you are self-motivated and disciplined, you should be able to get your certification and start your interior design work completely remotely.
That is why online programs for interior design are a great option for education.
Frequently Asked Questions
What states require a license to be an interior designer?
You can work in interior design with no license in any state.
However, if you wish to be the lead interior designer on a project, you must have a license in Nevada, Utah, Texas, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.
What certifications are required for an interior design license?
To become licensed in any of the required licensing states, you must take and pass the National Council for Interior Design Qualification exam.
You also must have a four-year degree to take this exam and to keep your license, you will need to keep up with twelve hours of continuing education every two years.
Can you get your certification for your interior design license online?
Yes, you can take your National Council for Interior Design Qualification exam online.
There are remote proctoring options for all three of the course sections.
Do you have to have a degree to be an interior designer?
No, you do not have to have a degree to be an interior designer.
There are many online programs that offer a certificate to practice interior design, rather than a degree.
These options are cheaper and take less time.
However, if you choose to get a degree and take the NCIDQ exam, you can get higher profile clients.