How to Become an Interior Designer in Iowa

Interior designers are known for being creative professionals with a technical background, especially those who receive formal education from a college or university. While it is possible for you to receive training from an employer and work as an interior designer in Iowa, you will not be able to use the title “certified interior designer if you do not receive formal education and become registered. It might take some time, but becoming a certified interior designer in Iowa means a higher salary and an abundance of opportunities.

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To become a registered interior designer through the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) regulated by the Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ), you will need to complete a minimum of two years of formal education with at least four years of full-time work experience.

Requirements for Becoming an Interior Designer in Iowa

Some employers will hire individuals as interior designers with the intention of providing on-the-job training. While rare, in this scenario you could start learning and become an interior designer by trade with that company, but you would not be a certified interior designer. If you were to leave that job at some point, you might find it difficult to find another interior design position without becoming nationally certified.

Before you can take the NCIDQ examination, you will need to complete a minimum of an associate’s degree as well as four years of work experience under a certified interior designer or architect. If you have a job as an interior designer before you begin school, the experience you gain can go toward the work experience requirement for the NCIDQ.

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Interior Design Schools in Iowa

Whether you’d like to earn an associate’s degree or master’s degree, Iowa is home to many different colleges that offer interior design programs, including:

  • Iowa State University. At Iowa State University College of Design, students can take advantage of multiple degree program offerings. The school offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design as well as a Master of Fine Arts in Interior Design. The tuition for Iowa residents is currently $3,870 per credit for undergraduate students and $4,651 for graduate programs. Non-resident students will pay considerably more, at $11,072 per credit.
  • University of Northern Iowa. UNI offers a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Interior Design with a graduation rate of 100 percent in 2016. The program delivers a nice balance of interior design, liberal arts and business courses to ensure that students have a deep understanding of residential and commercial design. The school does offer a job placement service for students who complete an internship for credit after they have finished all of their classes. In 2016, the job placement rate was 100 percent. The yearly tuition for UNI is approximately $17,886 for Iowa residents and $28,428 for non-residents.
  • Kirkwood Community College. For students interested in obtaining an associate’s degree, Kirkwood Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Interior Design. This program can be completed in as little as two years and will prepare students to practice and serve the community as an interior designer. Included in the curriculum is product design, hospitality design, sustainable design and instruction on a variety of essential software programs including SketchUp and Adobe Photoshop. The yearly tuition for Kirkwood Community College is currently $4,194 for Iowa residents and $5,034 for non-residents.

Certification for Interior Designers in Iowa

Individuals who would like to become a certified interior designer will need to take and pass the

NCIDQ exam. During this exam you will be tested on a variety of different areas including, but not limited to, the application of life safety codes and accessibility regulations, preparation of scaled drawings, design concepts, color theory and the groundwork of construction documents.

You will need to fulfill one of the following degree/work experience combinations in order to qualify to take the NCIDQ exam:

  • 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 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 and 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 under a certified interior designer

The NCIDQ exam is composed of three sections, including:

  • The Fundamentals exam (IDFX) with 100 multiple-choice questions
  • The Interior Design Professional exam (IDPX) with 150 multiple-choice questions
  • The Practicum (PRAC) exam, a full-day examination consisting of seven exercises

The registration fee for the IDFX exam is $295, the fee for the IDPX exam is $350, and the PRAC exam has a fee of $455. There is a cancellation fee of $150 for each exam.

Career Outlook and Salary Expectations

The career outlook for interior designers in Iowa is very positive.Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and Sokanu data indicate that interior designers who worked in Iowa in 2016 earned an average wage of $19.37 per hour or $40,280 per year. This includes interior designers who were not certified through the NCIDQ. Registered interior designers in the state can expect to earn as much as $29.27 per hour or $60,890 annually.

According to Sokanu, there were 66,500 interior design jobs nationwide in 2016. Over the next 10 years to 2026, the job market for interior designers is expected to grow by at least 4 percent.

Working as an Interior Designer in Iowa

There are quite a few job prospects for interior designers throughout the state, but job opportunities in the cities of Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City are most plentiful.

Interior designers in Iowa can be found working in furniture design, kitchen and bath design, as consultants with large design firms, with architectural firms and companies like Home Depot. Regardless of what you’d like to focus on as an interior designer, Iowa has some great career offerings. Once you get some experience under your belt and build a rock-solid portfolio, you might also choose to work independently as a freelance interior designer.

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FAQs

How much do interior designers earn in the state of Iowa?

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, interior designers in the state of Iowa made an average of $49,090 per year in 2019. Entry-level interior designers earned around $29,200 and some experienced professionals earned salaries as high as $69,030.

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