How to Become an Interior Designer in Tennessee
Do you want high ceilings? Do you want a single door or double doors? What kind of fixtures do you want? These are some of the questions that interior designers ask when they are designing a residential space. They will also determine the moist functional uses for the space they are designing. When designing spaces for physician offices and hospitals, they will consider making the space comfortable and appealing. Interior designers rely on a combination of creativity and technical skills to do their job. They also need to be knowledgeable of building codes and safety regulations.
Requirements for Becoming an Interior Designer in Tennessee
The profession of interior design is not regulated nationally; however, it is regulated in some states. There are no current state laws concerning working as an interior designer in Tennessee. There are also no statewide educational requirements, but because of the technical aspects of the job, a degree in interior design is needed to do this job successfully. A bachelor’s degree is preferred, but a lesser degree may be accepted by some employers if you have some prior work experience.
Licensure or certification is not required either, but they are available. In the state of Tennessee, you can register as an interior designer through the Tennessee Board of Architectural and Engineering Examiners. National certification is also available by taking the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam. An interior design degree from an accredited program and work experience are required for both registration and the exam. You will not need either to seek employment as an interior designer in the state, but certification and registration could certainly help you to advance in this career field. You may find them beneficial to you if you are considering working independently as a freelance interior designer as well.
Tennessee Schools for Interior Designers
Holding a degree in interior design will show employers that you are not only creative but are educated in the technical skills of this job and are interested in furthering your career. To obtain a degree in interior design from a program that has been accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA), Tennessee has several options available to you, including:
- East Tennessee State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Interior Architecture degree. This is a four-year program that prepares students for entry-level interior design work and to sit for the NCIDQ exam.
- O’Moore School of Design at Belmont University offers the only CIDA-accredited interior design program in the middle Tennessee region. In this four-year Bachelor’s in Fine Arts degree program, students use the latest design software and are encouraged to develop their own design philosophy. Eighty percent of 2015 graduates are presently working in interior design.
- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga offers a four-year Bachelor of Science in Interior Architecture program. This program is a combination of interior architecture and general education courses. An internship is also part of this program. Eighty-nine percent of August 2017 graduates were working in interior design or enrolled in graduate school as of January 2018
National Certification and Registration for Interior Designers in Tennessee
The Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ) is responsible for administering the NCIDQ exam. To sit for this exam, you must have a bachelor’s degree in interior design combined with two years of work experience. You may also take the exam if you have an associate degree or certificate, but you will need to have at least three to four years of work experience.
The NCIDQ exam is broken down into three parts: the Interior Design Fundamentals Exam (IDFX), an Interior Design Professional Exam (IDPX) and a Practicum Exam (PRAC). There is an application fee of $225 that is required to take all three parts. Then you will have to register for each section individually. The registration fee for the IDFX is $295, the fee for the IDPX is $350, and the fee for the PRAC is $455. Once you have passed all three parts of the exam, you will receive your NCIDQ certification. To maintain this certification, you must pay $75 annually and complete ten continued education credits.
To register as an interior designer in the state of Tennessee, you must hold a degree in interior design that is accredited by the CIDA and have work experience in the job field. The combination of education and work experience must total six years. Therefore, if you hold a four-year degree in interior design, you must have two years work experience. If you have a two-year degree, you must have at least four years of work experience. You must also pass the NCIDQ prior to registration and be 21 years old. To renew your registration, you must pay a renewal fee of $140 and show proof of completing 24 continued education credit hours every two years. In the first two years after you register, you only need to take 12 continued education credit hours.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
In 2016, the Projections Managing Partnership (PMP) reported that there were 1,040 interior designers working in the state of Tennessee. There are expected to be 1,120 interior designers working in the state by 2026, which will be a 7.8 percent increase in the job field between 2016 and 2026.
According to data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2017, interior designers in Tennessee earned an average of $21.69 hourly and $45,120 yearly. Also remember that salary will vary depending on your level of education and experience, as well as where you live within the state.
Working as an Interior Designer in Tennessee
In Tennessee, the cities with the highest employment rates for interior designers include Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville. The cities where interior designers can expect to earn higher salaries are Chattanooga, Memphis and Nashville. You will find work available in retail stores that sell furniture and stage rooms, interior design studios and architecture firms. You may be responsible for staging entire houses or buildings, or you may specialize in certain types of rooms, such as kitchens or bathrooms. You may also decide to work independently as a freelance interior designer, where you can choose your own projects and clients.
With a degree from an accredited program, statewide and/or national certification and a design portfolio to show off your creative talent, you can be on your way to becoming a highly successful interior designer in the state of Tennessee.