How to Become an Interior Designer in Pennsylvania
Interior design is a fun and rewarding profession for those who enjoy creativity and technical skills too. This profession requires attention to detail, an understanding of industry standards and techniques, as well as knowledge of safety and universal accessibility requirements. You may be responsible for designing government institutions, recreational buildings, community centers and more.
Requirements for Becoming an Interior Designer in Pennsylvania
The profession of interior design is not regulated on a national level. Instead, individual states decide the laws they would like to put in place in governance of interior design. Currently, interior designers working in Pennsylvania are not required to follow any registration or licensing requirements.
Interior designers in this state are not allowed to practice in code-based environments. This essentially means that no structural modifications can be made to a building, unless these modifications will be overseen by an architect. The Pennsylvania chapter of the International Interior Design Association is currently advocating new laws that would allow interior designers to do such work on their own, as long as they are licensed by or registered with the state. For now, though, you will need to work alongside an architect as it relates to following building codes and laws.
Typically, employers will prefer to hire candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in interior design. Other employers will be willing to hire candidates with lesser degrees, as long as these candidates also have at least two-to-three years of work experience within the trade.
To distinguish yourself from the competition, it is a great idea to complete a master’s degree program, find an internship or apprenticeship opportunity, or earn national certification as an interior designer. Any of these options will help show potential employers that you are willing to go above and beyond in order to establish a successful career in this industry.
Pennsylvania Schools for Interior Designers
Learning more about the industry in a curriculum-based environment will enable you to develop your knowledge in a way that is cohesive and structured. Consider enrolling in one of the programs below:
- Drexel University is located in the city of Philadelphia and offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Interior Design, which can be earned in four years. Tuition and fees are about $53,000 per year.
- Chatham University is located in the city of Pittsburgh. The school allows students to earn a Bachelor of Interior Architecture degree with four years of study. Tuition is currently about $35,000 per year.
- Moore College of Art and Design is located in the city of Philadelphia and offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design. The degree will take about four years to complete, and tuition and fees total about $42,000 per year.
National Certification for Interior Designers in Pennsylvania
You will be able to find employment in this state without having national certification. Earning this credential is voluntary and could be beneficial for multiple reasons, including an increase in salary.
The National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) certification is offered exclusively through the Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ). To be eligible to earn this certification, you will need to have a bachelor’s degree and two years of work experience within the trade. Those who have completed lesser degrees will still be eligible to sit for this exam if they also have at least three-to-four years of work experience within the profession.
The NCIDQ exam consists of the following three sections:
- Interior Design Fundamentals exam (IDFX)
- Interior Design Professional exam (IDPX)
- Practicum exam (PRAC)
The IDFX section carries a $295 registration fee, the IDPX carries a registration fee of $350, and the PRAC has a $455 registration fee. You will receive NCIDQ certification after passing all three sections. To maintain this certification, you will need to pay an annual fee of $75.
Those who are interested in earning this certification but have yet to complete the work experience requirements may be eligible to sit for the IDFX portion only. To do so, you will have to be in the last year of a bachelor’s or master’s degree program. You may also sit for the IDFX if you’ve just graduated. This requires a $95 application fee. You will also be responsible for the $295 registration fee. When you have completed two years of work experience, you may return to complete the IDPX and PRAC sections in order to earn NCIDQ certification.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
Pennsylvania is expected to see a 1.8 percent decline in the job market for interior designers during the 10-year period between 2016 and 2026. Projections Managing Partnership (PMP) data indicate that there were 1,810 interior designers employed in this state during 2016, and by 2026 there are expected to be an estimated 1,770 people employed in this profession in Pennsylvania.
Interior designers in this state earned an average hourly wage of $25.01, or $52,020 annually, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data reported in 2017. The top 10 percent of interior designers in Pennsylvania made $80,480 during the same year.
Working as an Interior Designer in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, interior designers will likely earn the highest compensation in cities like Matamoras, Newtown and Washington Crossing, among others.
You may choose to specialize in designing homes, offices, retail spaces or even the insides of automobiles. Having specialized knowledge will help you create your ideal career as an interior designer.
Interior designers can be found working at architecture firms, interior design studios or home furnishing retailers. While work may be found in a variety of places, mastering your unique design flair will help you stand out amongst the crowd, no matter where you are.