How to Become an Interior Designer in Florida
Interior design is a form of art that involves designing the interior and sometimes exterior of a building or home. Interior designers use their creativity as well as technical knowledge to create spaces that are visually and emotionally appealing. Interior designers often work alongside contractors, architects and engineers. They may work independently or as a part of a small or large design firm. Interior designers should be knowledgeable in design elements (such as lighting and space), design software and structural requirements and building codes. Most of these professionals possess at least a bachelor’s degree in interior design, while some even hold a master’s degree.
Requirements for Becoming an Interior Designer in Florida
There are no national regulations governing the practice interior design. Interior design education and licensure requirements are dealt with on a statewide basis.
Florida is one of a few states that require a license to work as an interior designer. This process is regulated by the Florida Board of Architecture and Interior Design, through the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR). To become licensed in Florida you must take and pass the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam. To take the exam, you must first complete a four-year interior design degree program that is accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA).
Interior Design Schools in Florida
There are several colleges and universities in Florida that offer CIDA-approved interior design programs. Here are a couple of options:
- Miami International University of Art and Design. Both the Miami campus and the Tampa branch campus offer a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program in Interior Design. This program consists of 180 credit hours including general education courses and an internship. This degree program is designed to be completed in four years. Sixty-three percent of program graduates found employment in their career field in 2017.
- Florida State University. The Department of Interior Architecture and Design, which is part of the College of Fine Arts on the Tallahassee campus of FSU, offers a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degree in Interior Design. Both programs are CIDA accredited. These are limited space programs that take four years to complete. A total of 120 credit hours make up the programs, and this includes general education requirements. Internships are included as well, and the department will help place students for internships
Licensing Information for Interior Designers in Florida
You are required to be licensed to work as an interior designer in Florida. Before you can become licensed you must provide proof of education and work experience, and take and pass the NCIDQ exam. You must have a minimum total of six years of education and work experience to become licensed. Most CIDA-accredited interior design programs take at least four years to complete, so completing one of those programs would leave you with only two years to work under the supervision of a licensed interior designer before you would be eligible to become licensed.
The NCIDQ exam is regulated by the Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ) and is comprised of three sections:
- The Interior Design Fundamentals Exam (IDFX)
- The Interior Design Professional Exam (IDPX)
- The Practicum (PRAC) exam
An application fee of $225 must be paid to apply for all three sections. Once you have applied to take the exam, you must register and take all three parts within a 10-exam window period. This window starts with the first available exam after you register. The registration fee for the IDFX exam is $295, $350 for the IDPX exam and $455 for the PRAC exam. If you cancel any exam you will have to pay a $150 cancellation fee. Once you have passed all three parts, you will receive your certification. You must renew this certification annually by paying $75 and showing proof of having completed 10 continued education credit hours.
After you have shown proof of education and work experience and of having passed the NCIDQ, you can apply to the board for an interior design license. The application fee is $30. Your license must be renewed every two years by paying $125 and taking 20 continued education credit hours.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
Florida is the second highest state in the United States for the employment of interior designers. The Projections Managing Partnership (PMP) reported that there were 5,840 interior designers working in the state in 2016. In 2026, it is predicted that there will be 6,790 interior designers employed in Florida, increasing the number of interior design jobs in the state by 16 percent.
In 2017, interior designers in the state were making an average of $23.70 per hour and $49,290 per year. Interior designers who have worked for several years and who hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree can expect to make a higher salary than interior designers who are just starting out. Some areas of the state will likely pay more than others as well.
Working as an Interior Designer in Florida
In the interior design job field in Florida, you can anticipate work as an interior designer, interior design assistant, consultant, space planner and more. You may work at a smaller design studio or for a large architectural design firm. You may even decide to branch out on your own and work as a freelance interior designer.
Work will be easier to find in the larger cities like Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando or Tampa. In these areas you can expect to do modern, commercial and high-end residential design. In cities like Naples and Oviedo, you will be more likely to find clients who are looking for more luxurious designing. Interior designers in these cities can make almost twice as much as what interior designers average in other cities.