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Choosing an Interior Design Career

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How does one go about choosing an interior design career? Interior design has always been a very popular career path, but in recent years, the field has exploded. Corporate clients have come to realize that interior design is necessary to create a look/feel for a space that compels shoppers to buy, hotel guests to relax in their rooms but spend in the boutique area, and restaurant guests to feel comfortable enough to linger for dessert, but not too comfortable to tie up a table for an extended period of time. These "urges" are all accomplished through the use of a skilled interior designer/design team.

Interior designers are even more valuable because their training is so varied. They take many of the same classes are architects and can create designs for residential, commercial, industrial and retail spaces. According to the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ), the purpose of an interior designer is to enhance the function and quality of interior spaces for the purpose of improving the quality of life, increasing productivity, and protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public. It’s a great deal more than just selecting matching colors and pretty fabrics. There’s a full curriculum to learn about building codes, aesthetics, functionality, and use of space, and a multitude of others topics that all intermesh in order to provide a well-rounded foundation for a new interior designer.

Once formal education is completed, the interior design student will spend a number of years learning the trade from the trenches by way of internships, part-time, full-time and even volunteer situations. The hours will be long, the time spent in a studio will seem like an eternity, and when first starting out, the pay will typically be a pittance, or even non-existent if gaining experience through internships. While internships may pay very little, or nothing, think of this as your time to learn first-hand from someone who has experience and can help you establish contacts and learn how to network in your field, can steer you away from costly mistakes, help you build a reputation for yourself, possibly help you develop a niche, and can help you learn the tricks of the trade that would have taken you years to uncover on your own.

The entire process takes approximately six years from beginning to end, depending on the type of degree and course of study, but in states where licensing of some kind is required, this all leads to being able to sit for the certification exam administered by the NCDIQ. The exam takes two days to complete, is comprised of three parts, and the fee for each section starts at $250.

Choosing an interior design career should be carefully considered before taking the plunge. Training is rather time intensive and the certification process is costly. One interesting point is that due to the extensive training received, if an interior designer chooses to branch off into a different design field, the transition is often easier due to his/her detailed and varied background. Some alternatives might be an architect, graphic designer, or CAD designer. Interior design is not for the faint-hearted, but can be an incredibly rewarding and challenging field for anyone with a passion for design, a vision for creating spatial harmony, and someone who truly enjoys working with others.

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