No matter what industry you work in, your education—formal or otherwise—can only take you so far. That’s especially true as an interior designer, a field that is constantly evolving through advancements in technology and changes to the ways we live as a society. By continuously keeping up with the latest advancements in the field while stimulating your creativity, you can thrive over the span of a long and exciting career in interior design.
Continuing education credits (CEUs) are necessary to maintain many professional memberships and certifications, but there are other broader, more informal ways to keep yourself educated that are essential to maintaining a creative and technical edge, and to being a leader in the field.
Here are our top recommendations for how to keep learning as an interior designer:
- Network with people who interest you: We say it often here at the Design Manager blog, networking is critical to finding success in interior design. There are so many things that you can only learn through professional exposure, and if there is something you want to learn about that you aren't getting in your current environment, seek out the opportunity to learn from another colleague. Find people doing things that interest you. Spark conversations online and on social media platforms, meet them for coffee—if you’re early in your career, you can even offer to work with them as an apprentice once a week, for example.
Read more: Ways and Places to Connect with Other Interior Designers
- Attend industry events: Nothing can replace the in-person immersion in product showrooms and design vignettes, plus the simultaneous interaction with other industry professionals that happens at the major design markets. Plus, design markets have CEU seminars. But for more informal—yet immensely valuable—learning, attend showhouses, which are particularly good places to learn more as an interior designer. You get to see who are the upcoming industry stars, what they're doing design wise, and who their vendors are. You can even learn about how they are operating as a business, if you are astute enough to gracefully inquire as you network through the experience.
- Participate in interior design association meetings and events:
Being a (metaphorically) card-carrying member of the major interior design associations brings a lot of advantages, one of them being opportunities to interact with peers and learn about what’s new and relevant to the industry. In addition to the many meetings and networking events hosted by associations for members, you can also join a committee pertaining to an area you are interested in.
- Be tech savvy: Interior design has long leaned on technology to produce renderings and technical drawings that show their ideas and guarantee (closer to) precise construction, and staying on top of the latest platforms is essential. Technology in the field is constantly improving with apps making it simpler and faster to work, especially on the go. If you don’t know about these tools, you lose some edge in the game. To a lesser extent, using social media to understand the current culture we live in moment to moment is helpful to staying in the know.
- Attend university continuing education courses: Many of the top arts schools have several options for continuing education including certificate programs, which are especially helpful for honing in on a specific area of interior design where you want to gain proficiency. You can even go so far as to pursue a master's degree online.
- Stay curious: Everything can be a learning opportunity as an interior designer. As a creative professional, you can especially benefit from having experiences outside of work. Discover something that feels inspirational to you and pursue it further. Developing new interests will keep your ideas fresh.