Interior design is the art of designing an interior space to be both functional and pleasing to the eye through the use of color, furnishings, decorations, and their placement. Interior designers work in a variety of settings, including residential, commercial, and hospitality spaces, and must work closely with their clients to determine their needs, budget, and taste. Interior design is a good fit for individuals who are creative and detail-oriented, have natural artistic ability, enjoy working with people, and who have an ability to visualize what a space will look like before seeing it in-person, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Higher education is essential to most careers in interior design, with a bachelor’s degree often required to enter the field, the BLS explains. Students can pursue this field of study at varying degree levels, from the associate degree level to the doctoral degree level, and may even opt to pursue online interior design degree programs that allow for more flexible study.
Online Associate Degree Programs for Interior Design
An associate degree program in interior design is typically a two-year program that introduces students to the field and practice of interior design while allowing them to complete general education requirements. Accredited online degree programs in interior design at the associate level may prepare students for entry-level careers in the field, such as a draftsperson, assistant designer, or space planner. However, because a bachelor’s degree is typically required to be a full-fledged interior designer, the associate degree is a better choice for students who want to explore the field as a career possibility or transfer their credits into a four-year interior design program. Students take courses in the history of the field, interior design materials, residential and commercial design concepts, professional practices in the field, and color theory.
Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs for Interior Design
Online bachelor degree programs in interior design are more widely available than associate degrees, as they are often required to enter the field. Required course work will differ from school to school, but as an example, the interior design curriculum offered by the Art Institute of Pittsburgh’s Online Division includes classes in computer-aided drafting and design, planning for interior spaces, 3-D design concepts, design history, and even specialty design courses such as exhibit design, hospitality design, corporate design, and more. Quality online programs will require an internship in interior design so that students can learn valuable, hands-on skills in real-world career settings. By the end of the program, students will be able to showcase their skills in a design portfolio that will be critiqued by faculty and can be used to pursue job opportunities after a student graduates.
Online Master’s Degree Programs for Interior Design
Experienced interior designers who want to take their education to the next level may wish to pursue online masters degree programs in interior design. A masters program is also a good fit for individuals who have an undergraduate degree in an unrelated area but who would like to transition into the interior design field. Those with bachelor’s degrees in interior design or a related field like architecture may be able to take advantage of accelerated online degree programs in interior design. For instance, Ball State University offers a fast track interior design option for students with an undergraduate degree in interior design that takes about two years to complete, while the track for those with no prior design education takes about three years. Master’s programs may include courses in design theory and criticism, environmental psychology, and research and statistical methods, and often culminate in a master’s thesis or large-scale creative design project.
Online Doctoral Degree Programs for Interior Design
Longtime interior design professionals who wish to transition into teaching at the college level may wish to pursue an online degree program in interior design at the doctoral level. While postsecondary teachers may find work at a community college with only a master’s degree, a doctoral degree is often required to teach at four-year colleges and universities, according to the BLS. Therefore, earning a Ph.D. in the field is a solid career move for aspiring college professors. Ph.D. programs in interior design emphasize theory, research, and teaching of interior design, and allow students to conduct in-depth research into a particular area of interior design, such as the impact of culture on color usage, sustainability in design, or historic preservation. Ph.D. programs typically culminate in a dissertation, a book-length document of publishable quality detailing a student’s substantive, original research into a relevant area of interior design.
Online Degree Programs in Interior Design in the Work Place
Interior designers have numerous career options. They may be self-employed or find employment with interior design firms, consulting firms, architectural firms, and more. Depending on their employer or choice of clients, they may specialize in residential, industrial, hospitality, higher education, civic, or corporate/commercial interiors. Employment growth in interior design is projected at 19% between 2010 and 2020, which is average when compared to other occupations. The median yearly salary for interior designers was $46,280 in May 2010, although those employed in the architectural, engineering, and related services industries had higher earning power, with a median salary of $51,990, according to the BLS. Remember, however, that these figures only representative averages, and that actual salaries are highly dependent on an interior designer’s experience, roles and responsibilities, and the size of their employer or client base.