Do You Need a Degree to be an Interior Designer !

Do You Need a Degree to be an Interior Designer ! ? Absolutely, there’s a clear distinction between interior designers and interior decorators, and it’s a topic that can stir up some strong feelings within the industry.

Interior designers typically have extensive formal education, certifications, and licenses. They’ve put in the work to earn those credentials, and understandably, they take pride in them. So when someone without those qualifications refers to themselves as an interior designer, it can rub them the wrong way. Some may even feel slighted by it.

This can lead to a kind of elitism among some interior designers, where they look down on interior decorators who may not have pursued the same level of formal education or certification. It’s not uncommon for them to use terms like “Dolly Decorator” as a way to dismiss or belittle those in the decorating side of the industry.

However, it’s important to recognize that both interior designers and interior decorators play valuable roles in creating beautiful and functional spaces. Each brings their own unique skills and perspectives to the table. While it’s natural to take pride in one’s accomplishments, there’s no need to tear others down in the process. Mutual respect and understanding go a long way in fostering a positive and collaborative environment within the industry.

So, do you need a degree to be an interior designer?

In many places, having a degree in interior design or a related field is often required or highly recommended to become an interior designer. This is because formal education provides the foundational knowledge and skills needed to excel in the profession, covering areas such as design principles, spatial planning, building codes, materials, and construction techniques.

Additionally, many employers and clients prefer to work with interior designers who have completed accredited programs and earned relevant certifications or licenses. These credentials can instill confidence in their abilities and ensure that they adhere to industry standards and regulations.

However, there are some instances where individuals may enter the field of interior design without a formal degree, relying instead on practical experience, apprenticeships, or alternative educational paths. While this approach may be less common, it’s not unheard of, particularly for those who demonstrate exceptional talent and creativity in design.

Ultimately, whether or not a degree is required depends on the specific requirements of employers, clients, and regulatory bodies in your area.

  • Do you want to design commercial interiors? Get a degree.
  • Fired up to create construction documents with non-structural changes for permits? Get a degree.
  • Ready to study building codes and local laws? Get a degree.
  • Excited to use a CAD program? Get a degree.
  • Downright giddy to learn about fire ratings and egress paths? Get a degree.
  • Can’t wait to blow out some (non-structural) residential walls on paper and get a permit for that? Get a degree.
  • Passionate about drawing up lighting plans? Get a degree.
  • Do you love learning about architecture and structural elements? Get a degree.
  • Do you like analyzing how people use the space? Get a degree.
  • Love reading blueprints? Get a degree.

The Role of Formal Education:

  • Many aspiring interior designers choose to pursue a degree in interior design or a related field. Formal education provides a comprehensive foundation in design principles, spatial planning, building codes, materials, and more.
  • Accredited programs offer hands-on experience, access to industry experts, and opportunities for internships or co-op placements, which can be invaluable for building a portfolio and establishing connections within the industry.
  • Additionally, earning a degree may be a requirement or strongly preferred by employers and clients, as it demonstrates a commitment to professionalism and proficiency in the field

Alternative Paths to Interior Design:

  • While a degree is the traditional route, it’s not the only path to becoming an interior designer. Some individuals may enter the field through apprenticeships, mentorship programs, or on-the-job training.
  • Practical experience and a strong portfolio can sometimes outweigh formal education, especially for those with exceptional talent and a keen eye for design.
  • Continuing education programs, workshops, and certifications can also provide valuable skills and credentials for aspiring interior designers looking to enhance their knowledge and expertise.

Considerations and Challenges:

  • It’s important to recognize that the requirements for becoming an interior designer may vary depending on factors such as location, industry standards, and individual goals.
  • While formal education offers structure and guidance, it can also be costly and time-consuming. Alternative paths may offer flexibility and hands-on experience but require dedication and perseverance.
  • Ultimately, the decision to pursue a degree or alternative route should be based on personal circumstances, career aspirations, and long-term goals.


  • Master’s Degree in Interior Design
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Interior Design
  • Interior Design Certificate Programs
  • LEED Certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
  • NCIDQ Certification (National Council for Interior Design Qualification)


In the dynamic and creative field of interior design, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to success. Whether through formal education or alternative paths, aspiring designers can carve out fulfilling careers by honing their skills, nurturing their creativity, and staying abreast of industry trends and practices. By understanding the various paths available & making informed decisions, individuals can embark on rewarding journeys in the world of interior design.


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