How to Become an Interior Designer in Montana

Interior designers are different from interior decorators. While decorators may transform a room using furniture, artwork, color schemes and more, interior designers can dictate how the entire room looks, down to its structural components. Interior designers may work with business owners, homeowners and even government agencies to determine how a building, home or office will look on the inside. In order to do this, an interior designer needs to understand building codes and laws, as well as universal standards for accessibility.

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Requirements for Becoming an Interior Designer in Montana

While no national regulations exist for this career field, there is a number of states with regulations in place for interior designers. Though Montana is not one of these states, a common requirement to find employment in this field is a bachelor’s degree.

Obtaining a higher education will open up a wide variety of career possibilities in the interior design industry. Interior design programs may cover the following topics:

  • Interior space planning
  • Materials and textiles
  • Lighting
  • Color
  • Furniture design
  • History of architecture and furniture
  • Building codes and accessibility standards
  • Material selection and specifications relating to both residential and commercial design

In some states where regulations exist, interior designers are required to sit for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam. Sitting for this exam requires at least two years of work experience, in addition to a bachelor’s degree. Although this certification is not required in order to work as an interior designer in Montana, it will help you stand out to potential employers by showing them your willingness to take initiative.

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You may also choose to complete an internship or apprenticeship program in order to sharpen your skills. Additional experience or certification will help employers see that you are qualified, ambitious and serious about your career.

Interior Design Schools in Montana

Enrolling in an interior design program will be the first necessary step in finding employment as an interior designer. Consider if one of the options below would be suitable for you:

  • Montana State University is located in the city of Bozeman, and offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in interior design. Tuition is about $7,000 per year for in-state students, and this program will take two years to complete.
  • Helena College-University of Montana offers certificate and degree programs in interior design, which take between one and two years to complete. Tuition ranges from $3,700 to $11,200, depending on the program you choose.
  • Penn Foster College offers an associate degree program in interior design, which can be completed in two years. Tuition is currently $79 per credit hour, and the program consists of 67 credit hours. Penn Foster often runs specials offering significant price drops for tuition.

National Certification for Interior Designers in Montana

Since no national or state-wide regulations exist for interior designers in Montana, those aspiring to enter this career field are not required to earn national certification.

If you are interested in earning national certification for purposes of carrying a distinguished title, you may choose to sit for the NCIDQ exam, which is offered by the Council for Interior Design Qualification. To sit for this exam, you will need to have a bachelor’s degree, along with two years of work experience within the trade. Another option is to complete a degree program which takes less than four years of study, as long as you have an additional three-to-four years of work experience to compliment your degree.

The NCIDQ certification consists of an Interior Design Fundamentals Exam (IDFX), an Interior Design Professional Exam (IDPX) and a Practicum Exam (PRAC). You will first need to pay a $225 application fee in order to apply for the exam process. After receiving approval, you will then need to register for each of the three exams individually. This requires an additional payment of $295 for the IDFX, $350 for the IDPX and $455 for the PRAC. Upon passing all three exams, you will receive NCIDQ certification. To maintain certification, you will need to pay an annual fee of $75.

Students who are in the last year of a bachelor’s or master’s degree program, or those who have graduated but have not yet earned two years of work experience, will be able to apply for the IDFX only. This will require a $95 application fee and a $295 registration fee. Completing the IDFX exam will help you expedite your job-seeking process, but you will still need to complete the IPDX and PRAC exams in order to earn NCIDQ certification. These two exams can only be completed once you have met work experience requirements.

Outlook and Salary Expectations

The career outlook for interior designers in Montana showcases a positive trend, with interior designers in the state earning an average annual salary of $55,220, which is slightly below the national average of $61,590. In Montana, the lowest 10% of earners make $20,730 or less, while the highest 10% can earn up to $80,910 or more. This data indicates a competitive wage landscape for professionals in the field, with a range of earning potential based on experience, specialization, and location within the state.

National vs. Montana Salaries for Interior Designers

Location Annual Low (10%) Annual Median Annual High (90%)
United States $36,610 $61,590 $101,550
Montana $20,730 $55,220 $80,910

National vs. Montana Salaries for Interior Designers

Region Annual Low (10%) Annual QL (25%) Annual Median (50%) Annual QU (75%) Annual High (90%)
Billings, MT $37,830 $50,820 $61,200 $74,850 $105,120
Southwest Montana nonmetropolitan area $20,730 $20,730 $49,010 $55,910 $78,210
West Montana nonmetropolitan area $36,550 $39,920 $55,990 $73,970 $92,870

Interior Designer Trends in Montana

The employment outlook for Interior Designers in Montana is highly positive, with a projected growth of 16% from 2020 to 2030. This growth rate significantly surpasses the national average of 4% for the same period, indicating a robust demand for interior designers within the state. In 2020, there were 440 interior designers employed in Montana, and this number is expected to increase to 510 by 2030. Annually, there are projected to be 50 job openings in Montana for interior designers over the decade, which includes new positions due to growth as well as replacements for vacancies created by workers leaving the field. This data underscores the vibrant demand for interior designers in Montana, reflecting the state’s dynamic and growing design industry.

Employement Trends

Location Employment (Start Year) Projected Employment (End Year) Projected Growth Projected Annual Job Openings
Montana 440 (2020) 510 (2030) 16% 50
United States 94,900 (2022) 98,700 (2032) 4% 9,000

Souces of data:

The data provided in the summaries and tables comes from the O*NET Online website, specifically from the pages detailing employment trends and wage information for Interior Designers in Alaska and nationwide. The employment trend data is sourced from Projections Central and the wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for the year 2022-2032. These sources are reputable for their comprehensive and up-to-date labor market information, including occupation-specific employment projections and wage statistics across the United States.

Working as an Interior Designer in Montana

Montana cities like De Borgia, Haugan and Heron are where some of the highest paid interior designers work in this state.

You may find work at interior design studios, construction firms, architecture firms, home furnishing retailers and more. You should become knowledgeable in design functionality, construction laws and human behavior as it relates to environment. This information will allow you to use a great deal of innovation in designing state-of-the-art homes, office spaces, retail shops and more.

Search Certified Residential Interior Designer Programs

Get information on Certified Residential Interior Designer programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

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Is Interior Design a competitive field?

Interior design is a competitive field. The more competitive interior design jobs start in the specialized areas of the industry such as commercial, residential, hospitality and healthcare interior design.

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