How To Become an Interior Architect

Architecture involves designing a variety of structures such as buildings, homes, public places such as libraries, etc. Most architects are concerned with the exterior of any construction, but an interior architect is a specialist who works exclusively on designing interior spaces, usually in conjunction with an interior designer. The latter contributes the flair and creativity required in interior design, while the interior architect works on the structural and technical side to make the proposed interior design a reality. How to become an interior architect is explained below.

Job description

  • Design interior spaces keeping in mind functionality, optimum use of available space, durability and safety.
  • Jobs are available in residential and commercial projects, with a slant towards the latter – restaurants, theaters, retail showrooms, etc, where aspects of interior design, aesthetics and architectural stability and functionality are required.
  • Knowledge and expertise is required in the following disciplines, in addition to the core qualification of interior architecture – building safety regulations, general construction principles, heating, ventilation and lighting requirements and regulations, computer-aided drawing (CAD), drafting and using various building&construction software programs.

Education, training and certification

  1. High school diploma or GED equivalent with focus on drawing, math and science;
  2. Four-year bachelor’s degree in architecture, interior design or similar subjects;
  3. On-the-job or field training under an accredited interior architect for a minimum of two years;
  4. Certification from the National Council of Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ);
  5. Appear for and successfully complete the mandatory state board licensing examinations to practice as an interior architect.

Some of the schools and colleges offering graduate programs with interior architecture as a major in the US are as follows:

  • Arizona State University
  • Boston Architectural College
  • California State University
  • Indiana State University
  • Louisiana Tech University
  • Mississippi State University
  • Ohio State University
  • Parsons: The New School for Design
  • Rhode Island School of Design
  • School of the Art Institute of Chicago

The minimum educational qualifications to receive a license to practice as an architect can be achieved through the following alternative paths:

  1. BA or BS in Architectural Studies, followed by an internship of 2-3 years as per specific state requirements; OR
  2. B. Arch (Bachelor of Architecture), a 5-year degree program; OR
  3. BA or BS in Architectural Studies and a 2-year Master of Architecture (M. Arch) degree; OR
  4. BA or BS in any discipline followed by an M. Arch degree for 31/2 years.

Be prepared to spend a minimum of 8-10 years on post-high school education interspersed with practical training in order to become an interior architect. After that you can look for jobs with architectural or interior design firms, large construction companies, state and federal public works departments or start your own self-employed practice.


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