How to Become an Interior Designer in Washington

Interior design is a profession that is detail-oriented and driven by innovation. Building codes and laws help architects and interior designers understand how a structure needs to be built in order to be considered safe and suitable to sustain human life. Universal accessibility standards allow interior designers to create spaces that will be functional, comfortable and convenient for all types of people. The science of human behavior, along with an understanding of the cultures and lifestyles of various groups, will enable interior designers to specialize in designing religious institutions, community centers, commercial buildings, homes and more.

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Requirements for Becoming an Interior Designer in Washington

The interior design profession is not regulated on a national level. Each state makes its own laws and regulations in governance of this profession; however, the state of Washington has no regulations in place for interior design.

The International Interior Design Association’s Northern Pacific Chapter is currently advocating for legislation that would require interior designers to register with the state, allowing them to practice independently in code-based environments, without the need to consult architects in order to make structural changes to a building.

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In most cases, you will be able to find employment with a bachelor’s degree alone. You may also find that employers are willing to hire candidates with lesser degrees, as long as they also have at least two-to-three years of work experience as an interior designer.

Obtaining a higher education will greatly increase your chances of employment in Washington, as some employers require that their interior designers possess a bachelor’s degree. You can expect some of the following topics to be covered in various interior design courses:

  • Furniture and architectural history
  • Computer aided design
  • Lighting
  • Materials and textiles
  • Color theory
  • Space planning

Depending on the school you attend, you may even be able to specialize in kitchen and bath design, architectural drafting or green and sustainable design.

National interior design certification is available and is completely voluntary in this state. This credential will serve as a testament to your level of qualification, helping to distinguish you from the crowd of candidates who may be competing for the position you want. Additionally, earning a master’s degree or completing an internship or apprenticeship program will help you build your skill level and expertise within the trade.

Interior Design Schools in Washington

There are important elements that interior designers must understand in order to do their jobs effectively. Each interior design program below is designed to help students establish the foundation for a thriving career in this field.

  • The Art Institute of Seattle offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in interior design, which can be completed in 45 months. Tuition and fees are $87,300 for the entire program. Books and supplies currently cost an additional $1,752.
  • Bellevue College allows students to complete an Associate in Arts in Interior Design before moving on to the Bachelor of Applied Arts program. Both degrees will take a combined total of four years to complete. Students who have already completed another regionally-accredited associate’s degree program will be allowed to enroll in the bachelor’s degree program to receive their B.A. in two years. Tuition is currently about $4,000 per year for in-state students.
  • Washington State University is located in the city of Pullman and offers a Bachelor of Arts in Interior Design. The program will take four years to complete, and tuition and fees are currently about $12,000 per year.

National Certification for Interior Designers in Washington

The Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ) is responsible for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) certification process. This certification is not necessary in order to practice in this state; however, it is required in many other states that choose to regulate this profession. Taking the initiative to become certified will put you a step ahead of your peers and could allow you to earn higher compensation with your employer.

To earn this certification, you will first need to complete a bachelor’s degree program along with two years of work experience within the trade. You may also earn this certification if you have earned a degree which took less than four years of study, as long as you also have at least three-to-four years of work experience to complement the degree you’ve earned.

There are three sections included in the NCIDQ exam. A $225 application fee will cover all three sections. When your application is approved, you will need to register for each section individually.

The registration fees are as follows:

  • Interior Design Fundamentals Exam (IDFX) – $295
  • Interior Design Professional Exam (IDPX) – $350
  • Practicum Exam (PRAC) – $455

To maintain certification, you will need to make an annual payment of $75.

No work experience yet? No worries. You will be eligible to sit for the IDFX portion of the exam only, as long as you have completed or are in the last year of a bachelor’s or master’s degree program. Sitting for this portion of the exam on its own will require a $95 application fee, as well as the registration fee of $295. When you have completed the work experience requirements, you will be allowed to return to complete the rest of the exam in order to earn NCIDQ certification.

Career Outlook and Salary Expectations

In 2020, the Projections Managing Partnership (PMP) released data that stated there were 2,760 people employed as interior designers in Washington. By 2030, the PMP expects this number will jump to 3,320, indicating an 20 percent increase in the job market during this 10-year period.

On average, interior designers working in Washington earned $30.14 per hour, or $62,680 per year, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data released in 2021. The top 10 percent of interior designers in this state earned an average of $98,540 during the same year.

Working as an Interior Designer in Washington

The job market for interior designers is expected to continue to improve throughout the coming years. You can be a part of this expansion if you have the passion and drive to build a fruitful career in this industry.

Interior designers working in Washington will earn the highest compensation in cities like Bellevue, Kirkland and Medina, among others.

Kitchen and bath designers, home furnishing retailers and architecture firms are among some of the places interior designers can be found working. You may also enjoy working as a freelance interior designer and choose to seek out only those projects that inspire your creativity and spark your passion.

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Get information on Certified Residential Interior Designer programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

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How long is an interior design program?

How Long Does It Take To Get Certified in Interior Design? Generally, certificate programs can be completed in under a year, whereas degree programs can take anywhere from 2 to 4 years of study in order for the student to earn their degree.

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