There is much more to a career in interior design than combining colours and fabrics. As every successful designer would agree, creativity ought to be laid on a solid business foundation, which means you have to be both a designer and an entrepreneur.
The core of learning interior designing is to come up with projects that meet both clients’ budgets and their expectations – while planning the materials and fittings, you should also calculate the expenses, assign the tasks, and ensure that work is going in the right direction. And, well, you’re right. It ain’t easy!
Which choices do you have?
Image source: Besch Design, Ltd.
Interior designers and their clients have a common goal – to come up with spaces that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. The setting may be residential or commercial, and both designers choose to specialize in both.
There are many fields in which you can pursue professional development. You can study interior design from a residential perspective and focus on homes or hotels, or work on landscaping, amusement parks, hospitals, or even prisons. The more spaces you can work on the more clients you will have, which is why many designers choose to remain self-employed.
Of course, joining a small business or a corporation is a good way to launch a career. Nonetheless, the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that every fourth designer in 2014 chose to work independently.
How would your career develop?
Sticking with BLS statistics, we share that a designer’s median pay for 2015 was almost $24 per hour, namely around $50,000 per year. The bureau prognoses a 4% employment growth until 2024, keeping in mind that priority will be given to designers who specialize in easily accessible and environmentally friendly spaces.
What degree do you need?
Image source: Mauna Loa Cedar Homes Inc
There are many degrees that can confirm you’re a qualified and well-prepared designer, including the Associate of Arts Degree, or a bachelor/master in the field.
Those among you who don’t have an undergraduate degree and would like to start right away can also consider an associate degree. If you’re not sure what you want, however, a bachelor’s program may be a better idea. Once the bachelor degree is ready, you can choose a specialty and expand your skill set with a master’s degree.
When researching master’s programs, you will come across Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs – it all depends on whether they focus on liberal or fine arts.
Lately, many designers choose to rely on interior design online courses as the less time-consuming options. Such courses may introduce you to the profession or expand your current knowledge, but you have to keep in mind that they’re often not enough to get an employment certificate.
Which online interior design courses should you consider?
What should you expect from your interior design training? It doesn’t matter whether you’re expecting to get inspired or to work around the technicalities – your interior design course should make the best of both worlds.
For instance, it should teach you on the history of interior design, drawing and composition, main principles, theory of colours, light designs, elements of design, sustainability, and much more.
Which interior design courses are available for free?
Most of the interior design schools online are affiliated with prominent institutes, including those offered by universities. Some of them can be obtained for free, but you must keep in mind that you may not get credits for them or have those applied to your degree program.
What you can do instead is participate in courses offered by commercial concerns, assuming that you have a design-suitable computer and high-speed Internet connection to stream their videos and to use their professional software. Study.com, for instance, offers some of the best interior design classes (more than 3,000) on basics & principles, and the monthly subscription is fairly modest.
Are you interested to study interior design online? Here are some of the best interior design courses you should consider:
Autodesk’s Homestyler teaches you on preparing excellent floor plans, placing doors and windows accurately, and experimenting with several product brands to see how your design would look in 3D.
Windows supports their web-based software, as well as the amazing video presentations offered by expert designers. Note that with these interior design courses, you will also have access to great design ideas and a wide palette of colours.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Thanks to OpenCourseWare, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology provides most of its interior design classes for free. These courses don’t award credits and don’t provide access to faculty members, but come with a batch of important learning materials that you can’t find anywhere else. Here are some of their best courses:
Principles of Design was developed for undergraduates, so that they will be introduced to the basic design theories. Next to their readings, students have to complete a number of assignments related to colour and lighting, and can do so both as university students and independent learners.
Daylighting is more advanced, as it helps designers make daylighting (and electric lighting) decisions. In a similar fashion, they have a number of assignments to complete, and a final design project to present.
Open University relies on LearningSpace to please us with a diverse offer of interior design courses. Here are some examples:
Design Thinking is best described as a 10-hour journey inside the world of interior design. The course is available to download and print, and treats the main principles of composition like symmetry, proportion, and structure. Next to the great readings, this course offers many design activities and how-to guides.
People-Centred Designing will take 12 hours of your time to teach you on ergonomics and usability. It will help you estimate what your clients want, also in terms of furniture and appliances.
The education plans of the Family and Consumer Sciences Education (Utah Education Network) are available for free. Students get multiple links and activities divided in 3 modules (Interior Design I, Interior Design II, and Advanced Interior Design), all of which can be taken independently, or taught by students themselves. The age or career level doesn’t matter – these courses can help everyone!
Interior design courses you’d have to pay for
Udemy Interior Design Courses
Here’s something for those on the budget, but who’d nonetheless like a short introduction to interior design. The courses on Udemy are very practical and equipped with video tutorials, and are thereof suitable even for absolute beginners. Their experts will guide you to interior design step by step, and introduce you to all sorts of topics to Feng Shui or 3D. The learning materials are simplified and easy to understand, so don’t worry about making a mistake!
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh
Here’s another art institute that offers the possibility to graduate online. Their Diploma in Residential Planning is awarded following 36 credit hours on interior design history, drafting, planning, professionalism, and textiles. If you want to take this course, you have to be a high school graduate with GED (General Education Development Certificate) or a GPA of minimum 2.0. A higher degree is also an option.
New York School of Interior Design (NYSID)
NYSID awards prospective designers with a Basic Interior Design Certificate (BID). This certificate is one of the best ways to prepare for their undergraduate ID program and to collect credits, as each participant is provided with the portfolio he needs to apply for AAS and BFA degrees.
The course is pretty intense and time-consuming – you can take it either full-time or part-time, and at a pace that you find suitable. You will be learning about colours, textiles, styles, design concepts, design history, and more. What is good to know is that the professors are those that actually teach the schools graduate courses.
An interesting program to consider is Healthcare Interior Design in Sustainable Environments (MPS – Master of Professional Studies). You can enroll either full-time or part-time, keeping in mind that the full-time program lasts only 1 year.
The teaching team is very flexible, which means you can set your learning times and be taught via video conferences. Classes are usually held during the week, with intense assignment work on behalf of the student and a number of live discussions. Each student should present his project to other students and discuss it.
Online interior design degrees
There are also interior design courses that award participants a degree, but only some of them are able to guarantee acceptance in the professional interior design world. Here are some recommendations:
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)
The Savannah College of Art and Design is located in Georgia, but has recently expanded to Atlanta, Lacoste (France), and Hong Kong. The College enjoys the reputation of one of world’s best interior design schools, and was even awarded for offering the best interior design program by DesignIntelligence. They’ve worked on their online courses for more than 12 years, and they’ve been recognized for outstanding student services, outstanding online courses, and excellent distance learning teaching by the Instructional Technology Council.
SCAD’s best known learning program is the MA (Master of Arts) offered exclusively online. It enables future designers to recognize their connection with the space and objects around them, and does so with courses offered by qualified professionals. Students are required to have 45 credit hours, and they get access to the very same technology, resources, and interactive activities as their in-class mates.
What is best, SCAD collaborates with some of the best interior design companies worldwide to give students opportunities for professional development.
Academy of Art University
The Academy of Art University was founded in 1929, which makes it one of the most respected institutes in this field. The San Francisco University offers online degrees since 2002, including the Bachelor of Fine Arts, Master of Fine Arts, Master of Arts, and Associate of Arts.
The reason why you should consider the Academy of Arts University is that their in-class and online programs are absolutely identical. The courses are always provided by an experienced faculty team where each professor is required to teach online. They have one of the best-supplied online libraries in the world, and an Ask-a-librarian page where students can ask for help at any moment.
All Academy of Art students benefit of excellent support and engagement progress, Faculty members make special efforts to track the progress of online students, and offer academic and language support to ensure they won’t stay behind.
For instance, the Academy’s Bachelor degree consists of theoretical and practical education. To graduate, you will need 132 credit hours, and you will be immediately offered a second degree program to complete your education (this one requires only 66 credit hours). Note that the program covers all interior design aspects, use of materials, space planning, and building systems.
The master program, on the other hand, incorporates these academics with studio work so that students can submit a final design project. Design professionals should consider the Associate of Arts degree to specialize in a particular field, and to prepare for an entry-level position.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
At this university, students can complete a master program in architecture, and specialize in interior design. Over 200 reputed design professionals have recognized this program, praising foremost its ability to enhance designers’ business skills.
In 26 hours, students expand their current interior knowledge and learn how to assume a leadership role in their field. They solve theory-based and practical problems, discuss the spiritual and physical needs of their clients, and focus on safety in health issues in design.
The access to the University’s services is pretty much the same as the one of on-campus students – everyone gets the same career advice, and is taught by the same award-winning professionals. A unique possibility is to consult experts on how to reach one’s career goals. Whatever you may need, a professional team will be there to assist you!
Ending thoughts on these interior design courses
How to be an interior designer? Imagination and artistic skills are simply crucial for this position, but they’re unfortunately not enough.
When trying to learn interior design, you should also work on improving your managerial, technical, and foremost interpersonal skills. Next to your experience, potential employers will ask for your coursework, which makes an online class a very good idea.
How to get into interior design? Luckily, this has never been easier than it is today! Prominent art institutions offer online courses, degrees, and advanced technologies to provide entrance to the interior design scene, and some of them even do so for free!