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What qualifications are required by most interior design firms? If I do not get a bachelor's in interior design, what is another acceptable subject to get my degree in that relates to interior design?

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Pam’s Answer

Now most interior design firms want you to have the ability to use a few different software programs. The most commonly asked for are probably AutoCAD, Autodesk Revit, Adobe Photoshop and Sketchup.

There are schools with Associates degree programs that are around 60 - 72 credit hours. These are usually offered at community colleges and take 2 - 2 1/2 years to complete going full time. They usually also offer certificate programs that take less hours than earning an Assoc. degree. They are in areas of concentration like Kitchen & Bath, Perspective & Rendering or Technical Drawing. You can earn them alone or in addition to a degree. There are some jobs available for those with a certificate only. As with most fields, the more education you have, the more jobs options you have.

A bachelor's degree is usually 120 + credit hours. A bachelor's degree is almost always required to attain a position working on commercial projects. This is not the case to work on residential projects; you could have only a certificate or an associates or bachelor's degree.

The field of study closest to interior design is architecture. While it is more focused on general building design and construction, architects usually do have a little education in areas that interior designers focus on like color, materials and lighting. If you really want to do interior design, you should receive that degree. Architects take courses you may not have aptitude or interest in like <span style="color: rgb(40, 40, 40);">design, graphics, computer applications, architecture and art history, mathematics, physics, structural systems, and building and materials construction.</span>

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Rachael’s Answer

Hi Rachel,
Firstly, your path in your career may not be straight, mine was not. I studied Graphic Design and now am a Director of Design for Automotive leather. There are many companies hiring team members who have studied outside of "traditional" areas, they want to hire createive people with different points of view and talents.

An area to study would be color and materials. The College for Creative studies now has more industry focused classes in their Bachelors and Masters programs that could help you land a career in Color and Materials. If you study Interior Design, there is opportunity for you not only in architecture or buildings but, in automotive, hospitality and product etc.

Having a knowledge of the Adobe Suite would help you in the color and materials world.