How to Become an Interior Designer in New York
An interior designer is someone who is hired to create seamless flow throughout a personal or business space, with a creative combination of décor and furniture. It’s also not uncommon for interior designers to work with design firms and contracting companies to review blueprints before a new home or office is built, keeping the design and layout of the space in mind. Many designers also choose to work independently as freelancers, making it a flexible career choice that will also provide financial security. While some states do not have specific requirements for the career field, New York State does require licensure.
Requirements for Becoming an Interior Designer in New York
Education and licensing requirements for working interior designers vary by state. In New York State, individuals who would like to use the title Interior Designer or Certified Interior Designer will need to obtain licensure. In order to become licensed as a certified interior designer in New York, you will need to:
- Be at least 21 years of age or older
- Meet all educational and exam requirements
- Meet experience requirements by working under a certified interior designer
Regarding schooling, eligibility for licensure is based on a combination of education and work experience for which years of recognition will be given. You must accumulate at least seven years of acceptable education and experience including:
- At least two, but no more than five, years of postsecondary education in an approved interior design program, including an associate’s degree or its equivalent
- Two years of satisfactory interior design work experience under the direct supervision of an interior designer, architect or professional engineer
You will earn two years of education and experience credit for attending an associate’s degree program in interior design or four years of education and experience credit for attending a bachelor’s degree program. This qualification, however, is only valid if the interior design program is registered by the New York State Education Department as licensure-qualifying or accredited by an acceptable accrediting agency such as theCouncil for Interior Design Accreditation(CIDA).
Upon meeting education and work experience requirements, you will be eligible to sit for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam through the Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ).
Interior Design Schools in New York
There are quite a few schools in New York that offer interior design programs that will count toward licensure requirements. They include but aren’t limited to:
- New York School of Interior Design. The New York School of Interior design offers an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science in Interior Design as well as a professional-level Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Interior Design. Both of these programs emphasize core studies in a range of residential and commercial design studio courses, technology and graphic communication, among others. Students can choose to attend both programs full-time, part-time, in-person or online.
- Cazenovia College. Cazenovia College offers a Bachelor’s Degree in Interior Design that satisfies all of the requirements for students to sit for the NCIDQ exam through the CIDQ. Students will receive an integrated study of theoretical, functional and aesthetic components of the interior design industry by a faculty of masters. The school also has a mandatory internship that provides students with hands-on experience in a professional design environment.
- The New School, Parsons. The New School, located in New York City, provides three academic programs for students interested in pursuing interior design as a career choice. The school offers an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science in Interior Design, a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts Degree in Interior Design and a Master’s of Fine Arts in Interior Design, all of which will prepare students to sit for the certification exam.
Certification for New York State Interior Designers
Regulated by the Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ), the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) certification exam requires that interior designers complete any of the the following education and work combinations to qualify to sit for the exam noted above.
- 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 with no less than 60 semester hours of Interior design work and two years of full-time work experience
- An interior design associate’s 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 three sections:
- The Interior Design Fundamentals Exam (IDFX)
- The Interior Design Professional Exam (IDPX)
- The Practicum (PRAC) exam.
Once you’re eligible to sit for the exam, you will activate a timeframe in which you will need to register for and take the above three sections. The registration fees are $295 for the IDFX exam, $350 for the IDPX exam and $455 for the PRAC exam. If you decide you need to cancel any or all of these exams, you will be required to pay a $150 cancellation fee. In addition to the above fees, there is also an annual renewal fee of $75.
Separate from the fees noted above, the licensure fee for Certified Interior Designer in New York State is $377. The fee is due once your application is received through the New York State Education Department.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
New York State offers a fantastic career outlook for certified interior designers. This includes interior designers in New York City as well as upstate New York in places like Albany, Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 3,990 people employed as interior designers in 2017, with an average wage of $31.97 per hour or $66,500 per year. New York is the fourth top-paying state in the nation for this occupation. By 2026, the data indicate that this number will not change and the job market for interior designers in New York State will remain stable.
Working as an Interior Designer in New York
As a creative professional with technical skills, interior designers can be found working in a variety of different environments, including architectural firms, corporate design firms, furniture stores and with local contracting/building companies. It is also common for interior designers in New York to work in commercial and residential real estate, or individually as freelancers. As a freelance interior designer you can create your own brand, build a portfolio and have clientele in New York or across the United States.
The cities of New York, Buffalo, Syracuse and Albany offer the majority of job opportunities for interior designers, but employment opportunities are not limited to these locations. Regardless of where you reside, the state offers a lot of potential for both entry-level and expert interior designers. If you consider yourself to be creative with a technical mindset and have always enjoyed designing your own home, it might be the perfect time for you to begin a degree program in interior design.