How to Become an Interior Designer: Everything You Need to Know | Architectural Digest

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Organizational, time management, project management, and communication skills are all prerequisites for the job, as is some very specific technical knowledge. While mastery of drawing and perspective are fundamental for every interior designer, computer-aided design now is as well. CAD technology—in the form of computer software such as Autodesk AutoCAD, CorelCAD, SmartDraw, ARCHICAD, DraftSight, and CAD Pro, among others—allows you to render your design ideas in 2D and 3D models with proper dimensions, colors, texture, and other design details.

In addition to CAD, other computer software that today’s interior designers are expected to know include SketchUp, a basic 3D-modeling computer program; Autodesk 3Ds Max with its easy-to-learn interface for 3D rendering and simulating interiors; Autodesk Revit, which is highly technical in nature and created specifically for A&D professionals for Building Information Modeling to allow users to quickly make elevations, sections, and plans; and Infurnia, a feature-rich, complex interior design program. An interior design professional who is well-versed in these software tools will have a definite advantage over the competition.

Obtain proper interior design certification

At the moment, 28 states require licensure for interior designers, which includes passing the NCIDQ exam. NCIDQ is the most common interior design certification, recognized in the United States and Canada as a benchmark for proficiency in the profession. In order to qualify to take the NCIDQ exam, you must first earn an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree and complete a certain number of hours of work experience depending on the level of education. Comprising three parts—the Interior Design Fundamentals Exam (IDFX), the Interior Design Professional Exam (IDPX), and the practicum—the NCIDQ exam covers subjects such as construction standards, design application, building systems and codes, project coordination, and contract administration. You may take the first part—the IDFX—once you’ve graduated from design school even if you haven’t completed all the required work hours. The IDPX, meanwhile, is available to you once you’ve completed both your education and work requirements, and the practicum is the final exam. Fees for each part of the exam are paid separately.

While this three-part test may sound arduous, you should have gleaned all the necessary information through schooling and practical experience to fare well enough to pass the exam and obtain your NCIDQ credentials—you need a score of at least 500 out of 800 to pass. And this is certification that’s definitely worth having even if it’s not required by your home state, as it legitimizes your skill set and experience to clients and employers.

Create a striking interior design portfolio

Anyone who wants to become an interior designer needs an interior design portfolio. If you’re fresh out of school and don’t have examples of paid client work, use student work, internship experiences, non-client design projects, self-initiated work, and side projects to help illustrate your design process and capabilities. Sprouls says, “We evaluate many portfolios at the New York School of Interior Design, and there are a few characteristics that make some stand out. First and foremost, we like to see a portfolio that demonstrates design thinking…. We want to see that designers understand the process.” He notes that a portfolio should demonstrate more than merely the finished project: It should also weave a narrative that showcases how you interpret the clients’ needs, project goals, and challenges through the execution of beautiful designs.

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