How to Become an Interior Designer in Maine
Interior designers are creative professionals who seamlessly blend imagination and creativity with technical know-how. It is not uncommon for interior designers to work closely with architects and building companies, to ensure that commercial and residential spaces are not only flawlessly decorated but also functional.
If you would like to work as an interior designer in Maine, you will need to complete a combination of educational and work experience before you can become certified. While it is possible to work as an interior decorator in Maine without being certified, interior designers cannot use the title “interior designer unless they are nationally certified.
Requirements for Becoming an Interior Designer in Maine
To work as an interior designer in Maine, you will need to take and pass the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam regulated by the Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ). In order to qualify to sit for the NCIDQ examination you will need to obtain an associate’s degree in interior design, at minimum, in addition to four years of work experience under a licensed interior designer. If you were to obtain more education, such as a bachelor’s or master’s degree, the length of required work experience would decrease by two to three years
It is also important to note that, while it might not be an educational requirement for the NCIDQ, Maine does require interior design applicants to have a four- or five-year degree in interior design before they can be certified by the state. This means that many employers in Maine will not hire you as an interior designer until you have fulfilled these requirements, even if you have your associate’s degree and four years work experience plus your NCIDQ.
Interior Design Schools in Maine
While many might not assume this about Maine, the state is a cultural hub that is also home to a vibrant population of artists. Regardless of where you live in Maine, there are both online and on-campus interior design degree program options for you to choose from, including:
- Academy of Art University, Online. With a yearly tuition of approximately $20,952, Academy of Art University offers an online degree program that can be completed 100 percent online. The university’s Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Interior Architecture and Design will prepare students for a career as an interior designer and will satisfy all requirements for students to become certified by the state of Maine and the educational requirements for the NCIDQ examination.
- Penn Foster College, Online. Penn Foster College offers an Associate of Science Degree in Interior Design that students can then use to transfer to a four-year college or university. Unlike traditional two-year colleges, Penn Foster provides students with a low-cost tuition that can be paid in full each semester or monthly at $49 per month. The curriculum at Penn Foster includes key design concepts such as color, textiles, lighting and more.
- Savannah College of Art and Design. SCAD Online offers a multitude of degree options for individuals looking to obtain a degree in interior design. Students in Maine interested in attending one of the top art schools in the United States can choose to attend one of SCAD’s eLearning programs for interior design. Offering a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Interior Design as well as a Master’s Degree in Interior Design, SCAD is a great educational option. The yearly tuition for full-time students is approximately $36,630
Certification for Interior Designers in Maine
To become a nationally certified interior designer you will first need to qualify to sit for the NCIDQ.To qualify, you will need to have one of the following combinations of education and work experience:
- 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 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’s 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 the following three sections:
- The Interior Design Fundamentals exam (IDFX)
- The Interior Design Professional exam (IDPX)
- The Practicum (PRAC) exam
The registration fee for each section varies. The IDFX exam has a registration fee of $295, the IDPX’s registration fee is $350, and the PRAC exam has a fee of $455. There is a cancellation fee of $150 per exam.
To become certified with the state of Maine, you will need to submit a $50 application fee along with a $70 license fee and a criminal background check fee of $21. Each applicant will also need to prove that they passed the NCIDQ exam.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and Sokanu data indicate that interior designers in the state of Maine earned an average hourly wage of $20.49 ,or $43,030 annually, in 2017. Top tier interior designers in the state make approximately $35.21 per hour or $73,240.
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 4 percent.
Working as an Interior Designer in Maine
While it might be more difficult finding interior design jobs in rural Maine, the cities of Portland, Northport, Bangor and Brunswick offer employment opportunities in kitchen and bath design, at stores such as Ethan Allen and Home Depot and at independent studios
Once you attain your NCIDQ credential you will have quite a few options for employment in the state. After working in the field and building up your portfolio, there is also the possibility of working independently as a freelance interior designer.