Is an Interior Design Degree Right for You?

Interior design is the study of design principles and how they are applied to enhance the quality and functionality of interior physical spaces. In interior design programs, students learn about how the aesthetics of a room can be enhanced through creative design solutions, such as light, color, and space. They also learn about technical design solutions and ways that architecture and perspective increase the functionality of a room. Students then draw upon their knowledge to design interior spaces and draft floor plans using CAD software and other design applications.

Interior design professionals may work independently or for a corporation, such as an interior design or architecture firm. Some work in residential interiors while others work on commercial spaces, like offices, hospitals, or even airports. If you have an eye for design, a degree in interior design could be for you.

Advice for Earning Your Interior Design Degree Online

Attaining an interior design degree online requires a hands-on commitment. Under the instruction of their professors, students become familiar with the design software used in the profession. If students prefer to do the work under the guidance of the professor in person, they may consider enrolling in an online college with campuses in their area. Before choosing an online college, however, it’s important for students check the accreditation status of their prospective colleges.

Accreditation is a quality assurance measure that indicates a college meets established standards of education. Specialized accreditation is particularly important for interior design programs, as it can affect your eligibility toward becoming a certified interior designer. Students can check the accreditation status of design programs by visiting the website of the Council for Interior Design Accreditation.

Required Courses

Interior design programs include courses in color theory, architecture, space planning, and more. At the bachelor’s level, students will also take general education courses in writing and composition, humanities, science, math, and social science. Required courses might include the following:

  • Introduction to the Built Environment
  • History of World Architecture
  • History of Art and Design
  • Elements of Space
  • Interior Materials

Common Career Paths

Some potential careers for those with a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design include:

Residential Interior Designer

  • Expected Growth: 19%
  • Average Annual Salary: $55,640

Residential interior designers create layouts and floor plans for residential buildings such as homes and apartment complexes. Some designers may also have a hand in selecting furniture, artwork, lighting fixtures, floors and window coverings. This type of interior designer works closely with clients as well as with architects, construction managers, building material suppliers and furniture manufacturers. The above salary and employment growth figures were gathered from the BLS, and represent average incomes. Actual salaries vary greatly based on your experience, size and type of employer, education, certifications, and other factors.

Commercial Interior Designers

  • Expected Growth: 19%
  • Average Annual Salary: $55,640

ˇCommercial interior designers create layouts and floor plans for commercial buildings and business spaces like offices, lobbies, stores and restaurants. They apply design solutions to enhance worker efficiency, increase profits and attract clientele. To make sure that business spaces are designed for both functionality and aesthetics, they take into consideration factors such as the flow of traffic, customer comfort, business equipment and ergonomics. This type of interior designer works closely with building owners, architects, contractors, construction managers, material suppliers, electricians and inspectors. Figures above were provided by the BLS.

Furniture and Industrial Designers

  • Expected Growth: 10%
  • Average Annual Salary: $63,730

Industrial designers use training in art, design, and engineering to design everyday products. An interior design background provides graduates with the design and technology skills to design a range of interiors products, from furniture to lighting. Industrial designers work in a variety of sectors, from healthcare to automotive design. However, an interior design degree is most applicable to the design of housewares and furnishings. Figures above were provided by the BLS.

Graphic Designers

  • Expected Growth: 13%
  • Average Annual Salary: $51,550

Graphic designers use drawing and illustration software along with knowledge of aesthetics, typography, and color theory to develop advertisements, logos, and others materials. Many graphic designers are self-taught while others have bachelor’s degrees in graphic design or a related field. Many interior designers transition easily to graphic design, as their education background provides them with the artistic eye and software proficiencies needed to excel in this field. Figures above were provided by the BLS.


  • Expected Growth: 24%
  • Average Annual Salary: $81,180

Architects develop plans and designs for buildings and other structures that are structurally and aesthetically sound. They need thorough knowledge of design and engineering principles as well as mastery of drawing software commonly used in architecture firms. A bachelor’s degree in interior design is a strong foundation for future architects who want to focus on interior architecture. However, a Master of Architecture degree is required to become a registered architect if you choose to major in interior design as an undergraduate. Figures above were provided by the BLS.


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