How to Become an Interior Designer in New Jersey
As an interior designer in New Jersey, you can work in a variety of industries such as architecture and contracting, kitchen and bath design and real estate. Before you can work as an interior designer, however, you will need to obtain your nationally recognized interior design licensure through the Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ) by taking the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination.
While it is possible to work as an interior designer with minimal training or experience, finding employment opportunities throughout the state might not be as easy or appealing. Unlike an interior decorator, who focuses more on interior décor, an interior designer combines creativity with technical training that is also backed by formal education and specific architectural skills.
Requirements for Becoming an Interior Designer in New Jersey
To become certified by the NCIDQ, you will need to attain a combination of formal education and work experience with the minimum being an associate’s degree in interior design plus four years of full-time work. Employment credit will only be given to those who work full-time under a licensed interior designer or architect, but the length of this work experience can be decreased by two years if you pursue a bachelor’s degree or higher. You cannot take the NCIDQ examination if you have not achieved the minimum qualification requirements.
Professional interior design organizations prefer to hire candidates with a high interior design education under their belts, which is why it is highly advised that one pursues a higher education should they wish to be successful in this field.
Interior Design Schools in New Jersey
New Jersey is home to a number of colleges and universities that offer degrees in interior design or interior architecture, but there are also online degree options for those who do not reside close enough to attend a particular interior design program.
- Academy of Art University. Academy of Art University has a home base in San Francisco, California, but the university offers an option for students who would prefer an online degree program over a traditional on-campus learning environment. The Academy of Art University offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Interior Architecture and Design that can be completed 100 percent online
- College of Architecture and Design, Newark. The College of Architecture and Design offers a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Interior Design that is accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA). The school works hard to ensure that students learn a variety of design disciplines, interacting with peers and faculty to work through all phases of the design and construction process. This four-year program is also studio-centric, which means that students will be given a hands-on approach to design, both creatively and technically.
- Berkeley College, Woodland Park. Berkeley College offers an Associate Degree in Applied Science and a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Interior Design. Both programs offer a curriculum that focuses on design fundamentals, theory, visual communication, culture and history, with a hands-on approach. Students will also learn how to use computer-aided design programs such as AutoCAD, SketchUp Pro and 3ds Max proficiently.
Certification for Interior Designers in New Jersey
In order to qualify to take the National Council of Interior Design Qualification Examination(NCIDQ exam), you will need to have a combination of work experience and formal education, with the minimum being an associate’s degree and four years of full-time employment under a licensed interior designer.
The accepted combinations of work experience and education include the following:
- 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 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 three sections, including:
- The Interior Design Fundamentals exam (IDFX)
- The Interior Design Professional exam (IDPX)
- The Practicum (PRAC) exam.
The registration fees for each of these are as follows: $295 for the IDFX exam, $350 for the IDPX exam and $455 for the PRAC exam. The penalty for scheduling an exam and then canceling is $150 per exam.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
Once employed as an interior designer in New Jersey, you can expect to earn an average of $27.51 per hour or $57,220 annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and recent research completed by Sokanu. It is not uncommon for interior designers to make up to $102,230 per year in New Jersey after gaining experience in the industry and building a portfolio.
The data indicate that, by the year 2030, the number of interior design jobs in the state will not change or decrease, so the job market for interior designers in New Jersey is expected to remain stable
Working as an Interior Designer in New Jersey
As an interior designer in New Jersey, you could work in restoration, at furniture design companies, architecture and contracting firms, in real estate or even for companies like Staples, Inc.
Job opportunities in the cities of Trenton, Hoboken, Jersey City and Princeton are plentiful, though you can expect to find great job prospects throughout the state. If you live in an area that’s close enough to New York City for a commute, there are plenty of opportunities to choose from there as well. It is also not uncommon for interior designers to freelance once they have built a portfolio of work to show potential clients
How do I get professional experience as an interior designer?
Graduate programs, internships or an apprenticeship is a great way to transition smoothly from school to the workplace.