Best Interior Design Certification Programs

Take your interior design business to the next level

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An online interior design certification can help interior designers, at-home DIYers, and professional designers start or further their careers in interior design. It can also teach some of the skills of the trade, including drafting, working with design software, reading floor plans, color and design elements, and industry techniques. Some certifications are offered to hobbyists while others are required in order to be a certified interior designer in certain states. 

We compared online interior design certifications from a variety of different institutes based on courses offered, type of instruction, class topics, pricing, and program length. Keep reading to find out which certification program is right for you.

The Best Interior Design Certification Programs of 2021

Best Overall : Udemy

Introduction to Financial Modeling by Udemy

Introduction to Financial Modeling by Udemy

Why We Chose It: Udemy offers affordable self-paced online courses in interior design for both professionals and hobbyists with loads of topics to choose from.

What We Like
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

  • Wide variety of course topics

  • Take classes anytime on any device

What We Don’t Like
  • Website is a bit chaotic

  • Each class is a different price

Udemy was founded in 2009 in California to provide adults and students with interesting, easy-to-use course content and now has more than 155,000 courses available. In addition to multiple interior design courses, you can take classes on web development, digital marketing, business analytics, and more. 

Udemy combines the best of both worlds and offers a robust selection of online interior design courses for both professionals and beginners that can be taken at your own pace on any device from anywhere. Each course is priced individually, lists what it includes, what you will be taught, and provides a certificate of completion. Udemy is a great place to start if you have an interest in interior design and find a course topic interesting but don’t want to commit to an entire semester. 

Some of Udemy’s interior design course topics include an introduction to color, design principles and elements, small house design, using color like a pro, styling, and staging. The website is easy to search and you can filter by beginner favorites, ratings, topics, or just browse course offerings. Courses typically range from around $34.99 to $94.99 and include on-demand videos, articles, access on multiple devices, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Best for Live Classes : Interior Designers Institute

Interior Designers Institute

Interior Designers Institute

Why We Chose It: Interior Designers Institute offers online programs in interior design but it’s known for its on-campus programs which include field trips to two major design centers in California, securing its spot as the best for live classes.

What We Like
  • Campus locations are near design centers and design firms

  • Course credits can go towards a degree in interior design

  • Certificate course offered for personal enrichment

What We Don’t Like
  • The school wants professionals to complete a degree not a certificate program

  • Certificate course is costly

Founded in 1984 in Corona del Mar, California, Interior Design Institute’s goal is to produce some of the most sought-after designers in the country. It’s a boutique college that teaches both interior design and interior architecture focusing on quality instruction, well-rounded curriculums, and personalized education with students as the main focus. 

As a small progressive school, Interior Design Institute adapts to industry trends and changes and is located close to some of the country’s top interior design firms. The school has a positive reputation in the area and often places students in nearby jobs after graduation. 

Interior Design Institute offers a certificate program in interior design as well as associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees in interior design and interior architecture. The certificate program costs $2,781 including supplies and can be paid upfront or in three equal monthly payments. It takes 11 to 12 weeks to complete and is a pass or fail course. 

Interior Design Institute’s certificate program is great for those interested in the field but who aren’t sure if it’s for them. If by the ninth week you want to enroll in an associate's degree program, you can transfer over by contacting admissions. Course topics include space planning, furniture and fabric selection, drafting, and final concepts. The in-person class also features guest speakers and field trips to two world-class design centers.

Best for Beginners : MasterClass

MasterClass

 MasterClass

Why We Chose It: MasterClass is ideal for beginners because it doesn’t require a large time or financial commitment and can be taken anytime from anywhere.

What We Like
  • Affordable monthly payment options

  • Good introduction to interior design

  • Access to multiple classes on the same platform

What We Don’t Like
  • Need to sign up to find out detailed class information

  • No certification offered

MasterClass was founded in 2014 as an online learning platform for all skill levels in a variety of industries and topics, including bartending, tennis, voice animation, chess, cooking techniques photography, and more. Classes are taught by industry pros including celebrities and those at the top of their crafts. 

With each class, you receive video lessons, course workbooks, and class feedback. . The cost is $15 per month billed annually at $180. MasterClass also offers a 30-day guarantee money-back if you aren’t satisfied. 

MasterClass’ interior design course is taught by award-winning interior designer Kelly Werstler, known for her work on designer hotels, statement pieces, and maximizing space. Topics covered include color schemes, area rug placement, design tips, and budgeting as well as focal points, the elements of design, lighting, and accent pieces.

Although MasterClass doesn’t technically offer certification, you can still put the class on your resume and decide if you want to invest the time and money into a certificate course. It can also be a great place for beginners to get a grasp of color theory and design concepts, taken by students aspiring to become interior designers or those who just want to make their own home look better.

Best Self-Paced Option : New York Institute of Art + Design

New York Institute of Art and Design

 New York Institute of Art and Design

Why We Chose It: New York Institute of Art + Design offers a self-paced, online, certified interior design course with access to interior design mentors, making it our choice as the best self-paced option.

What We Like
  • 24/7 course access

  • One-on-one feedback from professional designers

  • Includes interior design certificate

What We Don’t Like
  • Online only

  • Tailored to professionals and not beginners

New York Institute of Art + Design was founded in 1985 under the name Sheffield School of Interior Design as an interior design school with a career certificate course. Today, it still offers a certificate program exclusively online as well as courses in jewelry making, event planning, floral design, and more. 

New York Institute of Art + Design makes it easy to enroll online or you can speak to a student advisor on the phone to get more information on the courses offered. 

The online interior design class is self-paced and can be completed at your leisure with 24/7 access to course materials. You also get access to interior design mentors by phone and email who can make suggestions and evaluate your progress. The class teaches about color theory, window and wall treatments, pricing and client interaction, design trends, and more. 

New York Institute of Art + Design’s website also offers helpful career path and job outlook information including skills that interior designers need

The online interior design course costs $495 (discounted from $1,895) plus an exam proctor fee of $60 and offers a 14-day free trial. Once you pass the online course, you will have up to five years to pass the exam and earn a Residential Interior Design Qualifying Certification (RIDQC) Certificate from the Designer Society of America.

Best for Professionals : Berkeley College

Berkeley College

 Berkeley College

Why We Chose It: Berkeley College offers comprehensive online and on-campus interior design certificate programs with the option to apply credits to a degree in interior design and is our choice as the best for professionals.

What We Like
  • Credit can go towards earning a degree in interior design

  • Online and on-campus classroom options

  • Focuses on skills needed in the field

What We Don’t Like
  • Course is quite expensive

  • Only one certification offered

Founded in 1931, Berkeley College is a private college with campuses in New York and New Jersey as well as online classes. You can apply online, and you can use the online chat or call an agent to register for classes. The school prides itself on providing personal instruction and attention for each student and preparing them for career success. 

In addition to an online interior design certification, the Berkeley College offers associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in interior design, as well as accounting, management, fashion merchandising and management, and marketing. The certification program is geared towards professionals who are already in the interior design industry and want to become certified.

Berkeley College’s certification program is a 12-credit course taught over the course of two semesters and only requires a short application and a high school diploma to apply. Drafting techniques used in professional practice are taught as well as sketching, color composition, textiles, and computer-aided design (CAD). 

The cost of the course is $2,895 plus software and supplies.

Final Verdict

Our best online interior design certifications consist of courses for professionals and amateurs, are offered online and in-person, and have a variety of course topics and teaching styles. Some classes are just for fun while others let you earn certification and even put you on a path towards a degree in interior design. 

All of our recommended interior design certifications have positive features, but overall we recommend checking out Udemy first. It offers an affordable range of self-paced courses on a variety of interior design topics for all skill levels.

Compare Providers

Company Category Cost Why We Chose It Standout Feature
Udemy Best Overall $34.99 to $94.99 Wide variety of classes for amateurs and professionals 30-day money-back guarantee
Interior Designers Institute Best Live Classes $2,781 Offers in-person classes, exciting field trips, and degree and certificate programs Transfer from a certificate course to an Associate Degree
MasterClass Best for Beginners $15 per month ($180 billed annually) A variety of interior design classes at an affordable monthly price New classes added every month
New York Institute of Art + Design Best Self-Paced Option $495 (discounted from $1,895 Self-paced courses on a variety of interior design related topics HD videos featuring professional designers
Berkeley College Best for Professionals $2,895 Offers a comprehensive certificate program for professionals Teaches drafting techniques used in professional practice

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Interior Designers Need to Be Certified? 


Although interior designers are not required to hold certifications to work in residential spaces, three states (Nevada, Florida, and Louisiana), as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, require certification for interior designers who want to work unsupervised in commercial design.

Some states only require certification if you use the title of certified or registered interior designer and about half of all states offer the option to become registered or certified. Since regulations vary by state, make sure to research the state you’ll be working in to ensure you’re following the guidelines.  

How Do I Become a Certified Interior Designer? 

The first step to starting a career in interior design is to look into the rules in the state you will be working in. Once you find out what’s required by the state, make a list of potential or possible employers and research if they have any additional requirements. 

The NCIDQ examination is required in most states that offer licensing, registration, and certification for interior designers. This exam has its own educational and work experience criteria that you need to meet before taking it.  

Certification can also boost your resume, teach you design elements and principles, the technology involved in interior design, and industry tips and tricks. It can also help you stand out from other potential job seekers and is required by some employers. 

How Long Does It Take to Get an Interior Design Certificate? 

Interior design certificate programs can typically be completed in one year or less depending on when the courses are offered, the flexibility of your schedule, your skillset, and how much time you have to devote to the certificate program. Some certificates of completion can be completed in a week and more rigorous programs that offer associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degrees take anywhere from two to four years to complete. 

How Much Money Do Interior Designers Make?  

The salary range of interior designers varies greatly. According to a report by the International Interior Design Association, part-time interior designers who only complete a few projects a year may only earn a few thousand dollars while highly sought-after luxury interior designers can potentially earn over six figures per year. 

Whether interior designers own their own businesses and employ other designers and associates or work for established firms, most full-time interior designers can earn an average salary of $50,271. Keep in mind that location, experience, and firm size will affect your salary, potential for bonuses, and possible commissions. 

Methodology

There are hundreds if not more online interior design certificates to choose from. We reviewed more than a dozen before deciding on the top five contenders. 

We chose a wide range of certifications both for professionals and amateurs. All of the schools are reputable with overall positive reviews and industry experience. We also considered curriculum, class schedules, flexibility, course choices, prices, and type of instruction as well as the topics, instructors, and types of certificates offered. 

All of our top picks offer a blend of basic education and practical knowledge of interior design to help professionals advance their careers and give amateurs a solid foundation in the subject.

Article Sources

  1. CIDQ. "NCIDQ Examination eligibility paths." Accessed on March 9, 2021.

  2. Payscale. "Average interior designer salary." Accessed March 9,2021.