How to Become an Interior Designer in South Carolina
If you are naturally creative and have a good eye for aesthetics, becoming an interior designer might be a great career option. Unlike interior decorators, who focus more on décor and the enhancement of a space, interior designers working in South Carolina have an educational background that is both technical and creative. This technical background makes it possible for interior designers to work closely with architects, contractors and design firms to ensure that the creative appeal of a residential or commercial space is also functional and safe. If you would like to work as an interior designer in South Carolina, you will need to complete a combination of educational and work experience before you can become certified.
Requirements for Becoming an Interior Designer in South Carolina
Before you can work as an interior designer in South Carolina, you will need to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination through the Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ). If you’d like to take the NCIDQ exam and become a certified interior designer, you will need to obtain a minimum of an associate’s degree in interior design as well as four years of work experience. The more education you have, the less hands-on work experience will be required to sit for the exam. For example, if you were to obtain a bachelor’s degree or higher, the length of work experience required to qualify for the NCIDQ exam would be decreased by at least two years.
Interior Design Schools in South Carolina
There are not many interior design programs to choose from in South Carolina. However, if you’re looking to obtain a degree in interior design, there are quite a few online programs available. Unlike a traditional classroom or on-campus experience, online courses will allow you to finish your degree at your own pace.
- Academy of Art University, Online. Based in San Francisco, the Academy of Art University offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Interior Architecture and Design that can be completed online. This BFA degree will prepare students for a career as an interior designer and will satisfy the educational requirements for the NCIDQ exam. For work experience credit, the college does encourage students to obtain an internship near the end of the program. As of 2017, the yearly tuition for the Academy of Art University was $20,952.
- Penn Foster College, Online. Providing students with affordable education, Penn Foster College offers an Associate of Science Degree in Interior Design that can be completed in two years. Upon completion, students can choose to obtain work under a licensed interior designer or transfer to a four-year degree program. Students can pay each semester in full or pay just $49 per month.
- Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). As one of the top art schools in the county, SCAD offers two online degree programs for the aspiring interior designer: a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Interior Design or a Master’s Degree in Interior Design. Both of these degree programs can be completed online and meet all educational requirements for the NCIDQ exam. The yearly tuition for full-time students is approximately $36,630.
Certification for Interior Designers in South Carolina
To qualify to sit for the NCIDQ exam,you will need to satisfy one of the following combinations of education and work experience:
- An interior design bachelor’s degree from a CIDA-accredited program plus two years 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 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) and the Practicum (PRAC) exam. The fee for each section varies. The registration fee for the IDFX exam is $295, the fee for the IDPX exam is $350, and the PRAC exam has a fee of $455. For each exam cancellation, you will be required to pay an additional fee of $150.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
The career outlook for interior designers working in South Carolina is very positive.Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and Sokanu data indicate that interior designers who worked in South Carolina in 2017 made an average of $24.96 per hour or $51,914 annually. Top tier interior designers in the state made an hourly wage of $44.47 or $92,504 annually.
According to Sokanu, there were 66,500 interior design jobs nationwide in 2016. Over the 10 year-period from 2016 to 2026, the job market for interior designers is expected to grow by at least 4 percent.
Working as an Interior Designer in South Carolina
There are many job prospects for interior designers throughout the state, but employment opportunities are most plentiful in the cities of Charleston, Beaufort, Greenville and Columbia. Certified interior designers in South Carolina can be found working in furniture stores, in commercial and residential real estate, at upscale design firms and architecture companies. Since the college is a short drive away, interior designers located in Hilton Head or Beaufort could also choose to work as a professor of interior design at Savannah College of Art and Design. After working in the field and building your portfolio, you might also choose to work independently as a freelance interior designer.