Is an Interior Design Program Right For You? What to Expect in Class

Updated January 2024

You have a natural talent for arranging rooms, choosing furniture, and selecting paint colours. Your Instagram or Pinterest is full of amazing design ideas and inspiration. You're constantly reorganizing your own living space.

It sounds like you'd fit right in at interior design school! But let's take a step back for a minute. There are a few more things to consider before you invest your time and money...

Like, what exactly does an interior design diploma include? What skills will you learn, and what are your job options straight out of college?

Will you really love this program and keep on loving your career choice long after graduation? These are really important questions for anyone who's heading back to school.

In this post, we'll get right to the heart of how interior design training works. We'll break down:

  • What to expect in class
  • Where you'll find your first job
  • The key skills you'll need to succeed
  • How to take the next step and explore training options

 Let's get started!


How many months is an interior design Program?

Here's some good news: You'll definitely be able to find a comprehensive interior design program that takes less than two years to complete. At Herzing, our program runs for 18 months, and that includes an eight-week internship.

This is a much faster route to employment than a four-year interior design degree. Plus, university programs focus much more on the theory and history of interior design.

College programs are more practical. They skip over most of the theory and focus on teaching students the interior design software and technical skills needed to get hired. You learn by doing. You dive in and work on actual design projects, right from day one.


Mastering interior design software

Technology skills are a central part of interior design training. Designers use special software to create plans and present them to clients and builders. Occasionally, interior designers sketch a concept by hand, but for the most part, the work is done on computer.

So you can definitely expect to spend a lot of time learning and using design software in class. This includes:

1. Adobe Photoshop for manipulating images, and creating interior design presentations (working with filters, masks, retouching, special effects, and colour management)

2. Industry-standard CAD software to draft professional architectural designs and drawings (to present to clients and builders)

3. 3D application software (such as SketchUp) to create three-dimensional models of your designs and virtual "walk-throughs" for clients

Never even heard of these tools? Don't worry. The program will include many hands-on projects so you can get comfortable with the software and gain confidence in your abilities. As long as you're willing to try new things and work hard, you'll do just fine.


Developing your space planning & design skills

Obviously, all the design software in the world won't help you if you don't know how to plan a space. A quality interior design program includes a strong focus on the principles of interior design, space planning, and today's most popular design styles.

You'll look at product catalogues, visit suppliers, check out retail stores, and attend interior design exhibitions.

You'll learn how to analyze a space in terms of human needs, client preferences, and visual appeal—and figure out how to make the most of that space. This includes colour theory, lighting, and creating the right atmosphere in the rooms you design.

You will also spend extra time learning about two of the most important rooms in any home: the kitchen and the bathroom. This includes learning how plumbing, fixtures, cabinets, and appliances should fit into your design plans.

By this stage of training, your technology skills and space-planning skills really come together. You'll know how to create a great concept, and present it to clients.


Working with furniture, accessories, and finishes

What should you put in your newly designed space to really complete the picture and make it both practical and comfortable? There are so many options to choose from. 

In this part of the interior design program, you'll learn how to select the right furniture, accessories, and finishes for a space—including how to custom-design some of these elements yourself.

Key topics you'll study include:

1. Textiles for wall coverings, window treatments, upholstery, and accessories

2. Materials for flooring, walls, ceilings, cabinetry, and millwork

3. Light fixtures and installations, including devices and controls, energy conservation, and lighting plans for different kinds of spaces


Residential & commercial interior design projects

It's important to know that interior design graduates are prepared to work on both residential and commercial projects. That means you'll be trained to design for houses and condos, as well as restaurants, hotels, retail stores, and even public buildings.

By the end of your training, you will be asked to prepare a complete interior design for both residential and commercial settings. You'll apply everything you've learned to produce a beautiful, safe, functional design—and present it using the latest software tools.

The biggest benefit to you? You can use these completed designs to create a professional interior design portfolio. This will be key in landing your first job after graduation.


Your first Interior design job

Before you finish training, you can expect to meet with a career development coach who will help you prepare your resume and begin your job search. At Herzing, we actually send out students' resumes to design firms who hire our grads. Plus, we run mock interviews, make sure you have a good cover letter and resume, and help you learn various job search tools online.

So what kinds of jobs can you expect to land? You will likely start out in an entry-level, junior interior design position. You could work with an interior design firm, furniture design company, hospitality design business, kitchen designer, etc. You would be responsible for tasks like:

  • Drafting 2D and 3D design drawings using CAD software
  • Conducting research for design proposals
  • Helping to create client presentations
  • Answering client questions by phone and email
  • Some clerical office tasks

The median salary for interior designers in Canada is $28.72 an hour—or about $60,000 a year. Just starting out after school, you may make less—around $36,000 a year.

At the highest end, Canadian designers are making approximately $103,000 a year.


Is an Interior Design Diploma Right for You?

If you've read this far and believe you're a good fit for an interior design career, your next step is to speak with admissions.

Admissions advisors are experts in helping students choose the right diploma programs and career paths. They can answer all your questions about:

  • Admission requirements for the interior design program (are you eligible?)
  • Tuition
  • Financial aid options
  • Class schedules
  • Finding a job
  • Submitting your application

Get help, advice you can trust, and support with your next steps. No matter which schools you're considering, meet with an advisor at each one until you find the perfect fit.

Your education is such an important investment—it's worth the time to make a smart decision. If you'd like to learn more about Herzing's interior design diploma, we're here to help.

Click below to explore our program, request free information, or chat live with an advisor right now. Get started today!

Explore Herzing's Interior Design Program



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