How to Become an Interior Designer in Colorado
Wearing many hats, an interior designer has a creative background combined with technical training that will allow him or her to work closely with a variety of companies, performing an array of duties. Unlike interior decorating—which is furnishing or adorning a space with fashionable and aesthetically pleasing items—interior designers must have technical training and a deep psychological understanding people’s behavior in order to create functional spaces within a commercial, office or residential environment. Interior designers must also have an extensive knowledge of color theory and how different color schemes can shift a person’s mood.
Becoming a registered designer in Colorado requires some education and work experience, but once the requirements are fulfilled you will be on your way to working in a creative career field that will also provide financial security.
Requirements for Becoming an Interior Designer in Colorado
While it is possible for you to obtain work as an interior designer in Colorado with a company open to training a newcomer to the field, you will not be permitted to use the title Interior Designer until you become licensed.
In order to become a licensed interior designer by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) through the Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ), you will need to obtain a minimum of a two-year associate’s degree in interior design as well as four years of work experience under a licensed interior designer. If you opt to complete more education, such as a bachelor’s degree in interior design, your work experience or internship expectations will be reduced. The more education you receive, the less time you will be required to work under the supervision of an interior designer. Once you satisfy the requirements you can take the NCIDQ exam
Interior Design Schools in Colorado
There are many colleges in Colorado that offer interior design programs that will satisfy NCIDQ and CIDQ requirements, including but not limited to:
- Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, Denver. RNCAD offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Interior Design that is accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA). This interior design degree curriculum incorporates a variety of disciplines including architecture, environmental design, graphic design and industrial design, giving students a broad base of knowledge. With small class sizes, students will receive one-on-one attention from instructors.
- Arapahoe Community College, Littleton. Offering an associate’s degree program in interior design that can be completed in two-years, ACC is a great option for students who would like to transfer to a four-year college or begin their work experience as an interior designer. All courses required for this degree program must be completed with a grade of ‘C’ or better.
- Colorado State University. Colorado State University offers a Bachelor of Science Degree in Interior Architecture and Design that is accredited by the CIDA. This program is grounded in research-based problem solving in addition to cultural, environmental and historic perspectives, giving students a great insight into the world of interior design and architecture. Students will learn about space planning, technology, codes relating to life safety, creative problem solving, sustainable design strategies and more.
Certification for Interior Designers in Colorado
The minimum educational requirement for aspiring interior designers is the completion of an associate’s degree in interior design plus four years of full-time work under a registered interior designer. The more education you complete, the less work experience you will be required to have before sitting for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) certification exam, which is regulated by the Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ).
The education and work combinations to qualify include:
- An interior design bachelor’s degree from a CIDA-accredited program plus two years of full-time work experience (3,520 hours under a certified interior designer)
- An interior design bachelor’s degree that is not accredited plus two years of full-time work experience (3,520 hours under a certified interior designer)
- A bachelor’s degree (minimum) in any other major and no less than 60 semester hours of Interior design work plus two years of full-time work experience
- An interior design associate degree (60 semester hours) and three years of full-time work experience (5,280 hours under a certified interior designer)
- An interior design associate degree (40 semester hours) plus four years of full-time work experience (7,040 hours under a certified interior designer)
- A Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in Architecture degree with three years of full-time work experience (5,280 hours under a certified interior designer)
The NCIDQ exam is split into three main sections:
- The Interior Design Fundamentals Exam (IDFX)
- The Interior Design Professional Exam (IDPX)
- The Practicum (PRAC) exam.
Once you’re eligible to sit for the exam, you will activate a timeframe in which you will need to register for and take the above three sections. The registration fees are $295 for the IDFX exam, $350 for the IDPX exam and $455 for the PRAC exam.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
While Colorado isn’t a top-paying state in the field, it’s the state with the second highest concentration of interior design jobs. According the the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 1,790 people working as interior designers in 2017, with an average wage of $26.59 per hour or $55,310 per year. By 2026, the data indicate that this number will not change and that the job market for interior designers in Colorado will remain stable
Working as an Interior Designer in Colorado
There’s much more to interior design than decorating a space. Interior designers can be responsible for laying out lighting and furniture plans in blueprints and computer-aided drawing (CAD) files for architects and contractors, ensuring that the space is completed with the client in mind. Interior designers can be found working in architectural and contracting firms, commercial and residential real estate, with furniture companies and in the kitchen and bath design industry. Other employment opportunities include functioning as a lighting specialist in a showroom, with model homes and as a store coordinator. After building a rock solid portfolio, many interior designers branch out and build their own brand as a freelancer or sole proprietor
There are many interior design jobs throughout the state of Colorado, but the majority of employment opportunities can be found in the cities of Denver, Colorado Springs, Aspen and Fort Collins. If you are imaginative, creative and have always found yourself rearranging or designing your living space, signing up for an interior design program is a great option. Just think: in just four to five years you could be working at your dream job as an interior designer.