Can I study to become an Interior designer while working Full Time?

Interior designer working at her desk
You are still trying to decide whether you want to become an interior designer. There are so many things to consider, including the education you will need, and the time and expense of earning your credentials. We have addressed some of these issues in our previous blogs.

Now you are wondering if you can study to become an interior designer while you have a full-time job. The fact is that many college students need to work full-time in order to pay their expenses. As a result, economic limitations can deter many people from pursuing a degree, especially if they have a family to support, or loans to pay. However, it is possible to work full time while studying to become an interior designer.

How Do I start a career in Interior Design?

In our previous article, “Can I Become an Interior Designer Without a Degree?”, we discussed what education is required and how long the process takes. It all comes down to the state where you want to practice, and whether you want to be certified as an interior designer. You can practice interior design in most states without any formal education, certification or licensing, but without those credentials you may find yourself limited in your ability to get a good job or find clients.

The best route to becoming an interior designer is to get an associate or bachelor’s degree in interior design, and sit for the NCIDQ exam, which also requires at least three years of actual interior design job experience.

Where Do I Learn Interior Design? 

In previous blogs, we talked about the best ways to learn to become an interior designer, including which degree to pursue, how to find the right school for you, and whether it is possible to do online: “What You Need to Know About Studying Interior Design Online” and “What is the best Interior design degree” You can learn interior design in a variety of programs in interior design offered by vocational schools, and two- and four-year colleges, both in person and online.

Interior Design Programs Allow You to Attend Part-Time

Most interior design programs allow students to attend on a part-time basis. When you start a search for the program that interests you, it is easy to find out if it offers classes on a part-time basis by visiting the institution’s website. 

You will open up even more options by studying interior design online as a part-time student. You will be able to enroll in a program anywhere, unless it requires in-person attendance to any degree. Earning your interior design degree online will also save you the time and expense of commuting. Many programs allow you to take classes on your own schedule, which gives you the flexibility to work full time. See our article, “What You Need to Know About Studying Interior Design Online.”

How to Juggle Working Full Time and Attending Interior Design School

According to a Georgetown University report, over 75% of graduate students and 40% of undergrads work at least 30 hours a week while attending school, and 25% goes to college full-time while holding down a full-time job.

There is no doubt that it is worth the time and expense to get a degree in interior design in terms of the ability to increase your income, attract clients and get a well-paying job. But getting that degree can result in personal struggles and financial hardship, including the need to take out student loans. Working full-time certainly helps offset the cost of an education, so rather than forego school, here are some tips for coping with working full-time while going to interior design school.

  • Take the extra time and attend on a part-time, rather than full-time, basis
  • Take one course at a time and compensate by taking classes in the summer
  • Have realistic expectations 
  • Stick to your schedule
  • Get used to multi-tasking
  • Treat yourself well and reward yourself for a job well done
  • Know your limits and when enough is enough
  • Be honest with your employer
  • Get your family on board
  • Arrange for child care
  • Take advantage of technology and get familiar with academic tools
  • Take care of yourself: eat properly, get enough sleep and exercise
  • Create a dedicated work/study space
  • Keep your long-term goals in sight
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Studying interior design while working full time is no different than pursuing any other type of degree. Millions of students around the country do it every year. But it takes patience, planning and perseverance.

Once you have decided that pursuing interior design as a career is right for you, choose a program that has flexibility and can accommodate your needs. Try to get a full time job in the field of interior design. That way, you can start to meet the requirements for taking the NCIDQ exam and get valuable real life experience on the way to your new career.

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