If you have a strong desire to become an architect and have a way with color and styles, you may want to consider a career in interior architecture design.
Interior architecture designers, better known as interior architects, prepare drawings for interior spaces and sometimes design the furniture to be used in those spaces. They typically work in architecture firms and other companies that design construction plans for homes, offices, and public amenities. Others also prefer to work as freelancers and contractors.
Remember, however, that interior design architects are architects first and foremost. Although the fields often overlap, the role is significantly different from that of an interior designer. Indeed, to become an interior architect, you must be licensed as an architect, not an interior designer. Below is everything you need to know to kickstart a career in interior architecture design.
Roles and Responsibilities
Interior architects specialize in designing and building interiors. Their main job is to make sure that interiors are safe, functional, and aesthetically pleasing. To this end, the interior architect must understand the durability and strength of building materials. Additionally, they must be highly skilled in lighting, color, and textures.
The interior architect also drafts plans to create or refinish spaces in residential properties and commercial establishments. In both cases, they must keep the client’s tastes and preferences in mind at all times. They must also be aware of federal, state, and local legislation so that their work is compliant with the law.
Interior designers work alongside other professionals such as other architects, construction teams, and inspectors. Of course, they also work alongside interior designers.
Aside from working in new constructions, interior architects may also take up remodeling projects. Some of their roles in remodels include planning for the placement of doors and windows, plumbing, electrical systems, structural accents, and ventilation.
To qualify for a state license, interior architects must earn a degree through a NAAB-accredited program. NAAB stands for the National Architectural Accreditation Board.
Be extremely cautious here. There are hundreds of Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs not accredited by NAAB. These degrees can’t get you licenses, meaning they can’t make you an interior architect.
A NAAB-accredited Bachelor of Architecture program typically lasts five years. Learners usually learn about architectural history, interior architecture, urban design, and physics, to name just a few. Meanwhile, a Master of Architecture degree takes two years (or less) and is designed for learners with a B. Arch. The Master’s program typically focuses on computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), urban determinants, environmental systems, and construction methods.
Licensing and Certification
Upon completing the five-year coursework and possibly completing a Master’s degree in architecture (though it’s advisable to get some work experience before doing the Master’s), you’re ready to start working as an interior architect.
However, one thing stands between you and working officially as an interior architect – a license. You cannot work officially as an interior design architect without a license. In fact, it’s illegal in some states and may attract a steep fine.
You need two things to get licensed;
- Internship: Aspiring interior design architects must complete the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) Intern Development Program (IDP) to qualify for a license. The program lasts 5,600 hours. However, it’s paid.
- Pass the ARE exam: The Architecture Registration Examination (ARE) only comes after the candidate has completed NCARB’s IDP program. It consists of seven areas. Once you pass it, you will get a license.
The license is renewable yearly or biannually in some states. Whichever the case, continuing education is mandatory for license renewal.
In addition to getting licensed, most interior architecture design professional often get certified to ease the transition of licensing across states. These certifications are also offered by NCARB and must be renewed annually.
Those into green building may also get a certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) offered by the US Green Building Council. It’s renewed biannually.
Interior design architects are paid handsomely. According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), the mean annual salary of architects, excluding landscape and naval architects, is $89,470. Even better, the job outlook is very positive. BLS data show that interior design architecture positions will increase 1$ through 2029.
If you’re thinking of a career in interior design architecture, you’ve made a great decision. Interior design architects are some of the most respected in the building and construction industry. They command high salaries and enjoy flexible work schedules. The industry also boasts a positive job outlook.
However, be ready to spend quite some time in school and work even harder after school to rise up the ladder.