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.
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.
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.
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.
Montana Schools for Interior Designers
Enrolling in a degree 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
Projections Managing Partnership (PMP) released data in 2016, which reported that there were 100 people employed as interior designers in this state. By 2026, the same data show that this number will not change. This indicates that the job market for interior designers in Montana will remain stable during this 10-year period.
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data from 2017 show that interior designers working in Montana earned $23.35 per hour on average, which is about $48,570 per year. The top 10 percent of interior designers working in this state earned $72,800 during the same year.
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.