How to Become an Interior Designer in Puerto Rico

Interior designers create spaces that are functional, promote safety and are visually engaging. They must have knowledge of building codes, safety requirements and accessibility standards. Being knowledgeable about who will be using the space they design is also important. With input from their clients, interior designers might decide on the placement of windows and doors as well as fixtures and color schemes for rooms. To fully understand the creative and technical responsibilities of this job, interior designers usually hold an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in interior design.

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Requirements for Becoming an Interior Designer in Puerto Rico

The profession of interior design is not regulated nationally; rather it is regulated by state or territory. In Puerto Rico, interior designers are required to become licensed through the Puerto Rico State Department Examining Board of Interior Designers. Interior designers must get this license to use the title of interior designer as well as to practice interior design in Puerto Rico.

National certification is optional but is available by taking the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam that is offered by the Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ). To apply for an interior design license as well as obtain national certification, you must complete an accredited interior design program.

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Interior Design Schools in Puerto Rico

Interior design is not a profession in which you can learn hands-on. A formal education is needed to gain all the knowledge you need to succeed at this job. And in order to become a certified or licensed interior designer, you must complete an interior design degree program that has been accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA). Here are some education options available to you in Puerto Rico:

  • University of Puerto Rico – Carolina. The University of Puerto Rico Carolina offers a Bachelor of Arts in Interior Design degree program that focuses on eco-friendly design. Graduates of this program may specialize in commercial, institutional or residential design, space planning or showroom management. This is a four-year program.
  • Universidad Del Turabo. The Universidad del Turabo offers a Bachelor of Design degree in Interior Design. The program takes four years to complete and consists of approximately 123 credit hours. Coursework includes business practices, CAD and manual drafting and design, design history, furniture design and space planning.
  • EDP University. The San Juan School of Design at EDP University offers an associate’s degree program and bachelor’s degree program in Interior Design. The associate’s degree program consists of 86 credit hours and takes approximately two years to complete. The bachelor’s degree program consists of 126 credit hours or approximately four years. Both programs were developed by designer Lisa Thon.

Certification and Licensure for Interior Designers in Puerto Rico

National certification for interior designers in Puerto Rico is optional, but licensure is mandatory. To receive an interior design license, you must apply to the Puerto Rico State Department Examining Board of Interior Designers. You must be a high school graduate and complete at least 24 credit hours in English, Spanish, mathematics, humanities, philosophy, and psychology or sociology. Those applying must have also completed an interior design degree program that is accredited. The application fee is $50.00. You must also pass and take a Practical and Theory exam. The cost for the Theory exam is $60.00, and the cost for the Practical exam is $100.00.

To become nationally certified by taking the NCIDQ exam you must complete a combination of education and work experience that totals six years. This could be accomplished by completing a four-year bachelor’s degree program and working for two years or by completing a two- or three-year associate’s degree program and working for three to four years. If the degree program is not accredited, additional work experience may be required.

The exam is made up of three different sections. These include the Interior Design Fundamentals Exam (IDFX), the Interior Design Professional Exam (IDPX) and the Practicum (PRAC) exam. To apply for all three sections, you must pay an application fee of $225. Once you receive approval to take the exam, you will have a 10-exam timeframe to register for and take the three sections of the exam. Registration fees are: $295 for the IDFX exam, $350 for the IDPX exam and $455 for the PRAC exam. You will be required to pay a $150 cancellation fee if you cancel a scheduled exam. Once all three sections of the exam have been passed, you will receive certification. You will need to pay an annual fee of $75 and complete 10 continued education credits to remain certified.

Career Outlook and Salary Expectations

According to the Projections Managing Partnership (PMP), 50 interior designers were employed in Puerto Rico in 2016. That number is not expected to change over the 10-year period between 2016 and 2026.

In 2017, the average hourly wage for interior designers in Puerto Rico was $13.87, and the average annual salary was $33,470, according to data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, pay may be lower than what the BLS statistics show, since Puerto Rico has been under austerity restrictions and all wages across the island have been decreased.

Working as an Interior Designer in Puerto Rico

As an interior designer, you may expect to work as a commercial interior designer, industrial interior designer, residential interior designer, store window designer, space planner, material specialist, furniture designer or stage designer. You may also choose to work as a freelance interior designer. The most common place in Puerto Rico to find work as an interior designer is in San Juan.

Few careers are flourishing right now in Puerto Rico, but this does not mean that you should not consider a career in interior design. The job field for this career will continue to grow nationally. You can set yourself apart from others in your field by working hard, becoming licensed and certified and building a portfolio to show off your work. Once you have obtained your degree and hold certification, you may also want to consider working in the United States if you are able, and if interior design work is hard to find in Puerto Rico.

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