Choosing Between 2-Year and 4-Year? What to Look For in an Interior Design Degree With Jill Hornbeck

Interior Design Career, Interior Design School, Interior Design Business, Interior Design Mentor, Interior Designer, interior design degree, 2-Year versus 4-Year interior design degree

Can’t decide between a four-year and a two-year interior design degree?

It is important to remember that both degree programs have advantages and disadvantages, so consider your personal goals and circumstances before choosing between them.

And who better to discuss this than Jill Hornbeck? Her advice will help you decide based on your unique needs and aspirations.

Explore your options with Jill as she shares her Interior Design, Marketing, and Teaching expertise to help you determine which degree is best for you.

Why you’ve got to check out today’s episode
  • Identify the skills you need to develop while getting experience as an interior designer
  • Discover the 3 steps you can take to prepare for your dream job
  • Examine the number one question: Which degree program should you take and why?
    About the Guest:

    Jill Hornbeck has always dreamed of becoming an architect but found working with colors and furniture more interesting than designing homes and buildings. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design from UC Davis and an MBA in Marketing from Cal State East Bay. In 1992, she founded Everett Interiors in Livermore and has taught at Las Positas College since 2001.

    After UC Davis, she worked at an interior design firm doing model homes and residential design. She then worked for a homebuilding company as a marketing coordinator in the sales office doing graphics and public relations. Along with teaching at LPC and running her own interior design business, she’s also a mom of three.

    Her advice to potential students is “to get the experience right away. There is a lot of awareness about this industry thanks to HGTV and you need to show that you understand it’s more than just putting samples on a board. The products in Interior Design are more complex than people realize. So, having experience with products and clients will help you build confidence in your design skills and your ability to communicate with the many people you will encounter.”

      Check out these episode highlights

      03:38 – Four experiences that helped Jill decide to pursue an Interior Design Career

      1. Drafting and art classes in high school and art school
      2. Internships with designers in college
      3. Became a part of a design co-op
      4. Working with contractors 

      10:37 – How Jill’s competitive nature prompted her to get a master’s degree in marketing and how it helped her land a teaching position and run her own design business

      12:02 – What do designers need when working by themselves versus working with colleagues

      13:12 – The differences between the program at community colleges from universities like UC Davis

      17.25 – The type of program offered by community colleges

      Community colleges are more residentially focused whereas four-year degrees are geared toward working in a more commercial environment

      19:52 – The best way for someone to get started in the design field

      21:49 – The skills students need to develop while getting experience as an interior designer


      • Drafting
      • Scaling
      • Drawing out floor and space plans
      • Measuring
      • Product identification
      • Material Sourcing

      Soft CAD

      • Envisioneer at Las Positas (easier than Chief Architect)
      • AutoCAD at Chabot
      • Revit
      • Sketchup

        3 steps you can take to prepare for your dream job

        1. Go to and search for your dream job
        2. Print off their requirements
        3. Market yourself with your dream job in mind

        PROTIP: Manual drafting, rendering, and sketching are skills computers can’t do, so knowing them enables you to do it anytime, anywhere. Also, some clients prefer it because it’s intriguing and fascinating.

        26:51 – Why you should charge per hour for families and friends and the benefit of marketing yourself as a higher-per-hour designer

        27:51 – Non-designing tasks interior designers do with clients 

        29:12 – What the job market is like for a designer

        31:00 – How to get the best out of attending classes

        • Take into consideration how the classes are taught
        • Find out how you learn best

        32:10 – How to get new clients without a website and social media marketing

        PROTIP: Make sure to pay extra for professional photography for your portfolio, whether it’s in a PowerPoint Presentation or your own website.

          Next Steps

          Grab your freebie:

          Join the Design Mentor to kickstart a successful career in interior design!

          Enroll in Business of Design with Kimberly Seldon or DesignYou with Tobi Fairley today to scale your interior design business!

          Email me at [email protected] if you have suggested topics

          DM me on Instagram at @rwarddesign if you have a burning question

          Leave me a rating and review! Click here.

          Thanks for listening! I hope this helps you discover if interior design is the career for you. See you next week…