Jobs, Career, Salary and Education Information (2022)

Interior Designer Career, Salary and Education Information

What They Do: Interior designers make indoor spaces functional, safe, and beautiful by determining space requirements and selecting essential and decorative items.

Work Environment: Many interior designers work in specialized design services or in architectural, engineering, and related services.

How to Become One: Interior designers usually need a bachelor’s degree with a focus on interior design.

Salary: The median annual wage for interior designers is $60,340.

Job Outlook: Employment of interior designers is projected to show little or no change over the next ten years.

Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of interior designers with similar occupations.

Following is everything you need to know about a career as an Interior Designer with lots of details. As a first step, take a look at some of the following Interior Designer jobs, which are real jobs with real employers. You will be able to see the very real job career requirements for employers who are actively hiring. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this page to continue reading about the career:

Top 3 Interior Designer Jobs

  • Interior Designer - Remote - DC Builders - Portland, OR

    Job Details The Interior Designer will work directly with clients and architectural designers to make selections for custom residential and commercial projects. This position will manage appointments ...

  • Interior Designer - The Encompass Group - San Diego, CA

    This Interior Designer role is an opportunity to join a highly respected and successful company that is forward in their thinking and recognizes their biggest asset is their employee talent. If you ...

  • Interior Designer - Design Management Company - San Francisco, CA

    Interior Designer Location: San Francisco - Potrero Hill Design District If you are looking for an opportunity to channel your creative brilliance into a growing interior design firm, we'd like to ...

See all Interior Designer jobs

What Interior Designers Do[About this section] [To Top]

Interior designers make interior spaces functional, safe, and beautiful by determining space requirements and selecting decorative items, such as colors, lighting, and materials. They read blueprints and must be aware of building codes and inspection regulations, as well as universal accessibility standards.

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Duties of Interior Designers

Interior designers typically do the following:

  • Search for and bid on new projects
  • Determine the client's goals and requirements for the project
  • Consider how the space will be used and how people will move through the space
  • Sketch preliminary design plans, including electrical and partition layouts
  • Specify materials and furnishings, such as lighting, furniture, wall finishes, flooring, and plumbing fixtures
  • Create a timeline for the interior design project and estimate project costs
  • Place orders for materials and oversee the installation of the design elements
  • Oversee construction and coordinate with general building contractors to implement the plans and specifications for the project
  • Visit the site after the project is complete, to ensure that the client is satisfied

Interior designers work closely with architects, civil engineers, mechanical engineers, and construction laborers and helpers to determine how interior spaces will function, look, and be furnished. Interior designers read blueprints and must be aware of building codes and inspection regulations.

Although some sketches or drawings may be freehand, most interior designers use computer-aided design (CAD) software for the majority of their drawings. Throughout the design process, interior designers often use building information modeling (BIM) software to create three-dimensional visualizations that include construction elements such as walls or roofs.

Many designers specialize in particular types of buildings, such as homes, hospitals, or hotels; specific rooms, such as bathrooms or kitchens; or a specific style. Some designers work for home-furnishings stores, providing design services to help customers choose materials and furnishings.

Some interior designers produce designs, plans, and drawings for construction and installation. These may include construction and demolition plans, electrical layouts, and plans needed for building permits. Interior designers may draft the preliminary design into documents that could be as simple as sketches, or as inclusive as construction documents with schedules and attachments.

The following are examples of types of interior designers:

Corporate designers create interior designs for professional workplaces from small office settings to large-scale corporations within high-rise buildings. They focus on creating spaces that are efficient, functional, and safe for employees. They may incorporate design elements that reflect a company's brand in their designs.

Healthcare designers use the evidence-based design process in designing and renovating healthcare centers, clinics, doctors' offices, hospitals, and residential care facilities. They specialize in making design decisions based on credible research to achieve the best possible outcomes for patients, residents, and the facility.

Kitchen and bath designers specialize in kitchens and bathrooms and have expert knowledge of the variety of cabinets, fixtures, appliances, plumbing, and electrical solutions for these rooms.

Sustainable designers use strategies to improve energy and water efficiencies and indoor air quality, and they specify environmentally preferable products, such as bamboo and cork for floors. They may obtain certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) from the U.S. Green Building Council. Such certification indicates expertise in designing buildings and spaces with sustainable practices in mind.

Universal designers renovate spaces in order to make them more accessible. Often, these designs are used to renovate spaces for elderly people and people with special needs; however, universal designs can benefit anyone. For example, an entranceway without steps may be necessary for someone in a wheelchair, but it is also helpful for someone pushing a baby stroller.

Work Environment for Interior Designers[About this section] [To Top]

Interior designers hold about 93,300 jobs. The largest employers of interior designers are as follows:

Self-employed workers 32%
Specialized design services 25%
Architectural, engineering, and related services 13%
Furniture stores 7%
Wholesale trade 4%

Most interior designers work in offices, but technology has changed the way many designers work. For example, rather than using drafting tables, interior designers now use complex software to create two-dimensional or three-dimensional images.

Interior designers also travel to clients' design sites.

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Interior Designer Work Schedules

Interior designers may need to adjust their workday to suit their clients' schedules and deadlines, meeting with clients during evening and weekend hours when necessary.

How to Become an Interior Designer[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Interior Designers near you!

Interior designers usually need a bachelor's degree with a focus on interior design or interior architecture.

Education for Interior Designers

A bachelor's degree is usually required in order to become an interior designer, as are classes in interior design, drawing, and computer-aided design (CAD). A bachelor's degree in any field is acceptable, and interior design programs are available at the associate's, bachelor's, and master's degree levels.

The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits about 350 postsecondary colleges, universities, and independent institutes that have programs in art and design. The Council for Interior Design Accreditation accredits more than 180 professional-level (bachelor's or master's degrees) interior design programs.

The National Kitchen & Bath Association accredits kitchen and bath design specialty programs (certificate, associate's degree, and bachelor's degree levels) in more than 40 colleges and universities.

Applicants may be required to submit sketches and other examples of their artistic ability for admission to interior design programs.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations for Interior Designers

Licensure requirements vary by state. In some states, only licensed designers may do interior design work. In other states, both licensed and unlicensed designers may do such work; however, only licensed designers may use the title "interior designer." In still other states, both licensed and unlicensed designers may call themselves interior designers and do interior design work.

In states where laws restrict the use of the title "interior designer," only candidates who pass their state-approved exam, most commonly the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam, may call themselves registered interior designers. Qualifications for eligibility to take the NCIDQ exam include at least a bachelor's degree in interior design and 2 years of work experience.

California requires a different exam, administered by the California Council for Interior Design Certification (CCIDC). Qualifications for eligibility to take the CCIDC exam include a combination of education and experience.

Voluntary certification in an interior design specialty, such as environmental design, allows designers to demonstrate expertise in a particular area of the occupation. Interior designers often specialize to distinguish the type of design work they do and to promote their expertise. Certifications usually are available through professional and trade associations and are independent from the NCIDQ licensing examination.

Important Qualities for Interior Designers

Artistic ability. Interior designers use their sense of style to develop designs that are aesthetically pleasing.

Creativity. Interior designers need to be imaginative in selecting furnishings and fabrics and in creating spaces that serve the client's needs and fit the client's lifestyle.

Detail oriented. Interior designers need to be precise in measuring interior spaces and creating drawings, so that their drawings can be used by other workers such as engineers or other designers.

Interpersonal skills. Interior designers need to be able to communicate effectively with clients and others. Much of their time is spent soliciting new clients and new work and collaborating with other designers, engineers, and general building contractors on ongoing projects.

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Problem-solving skills. Interior designers must address challenges, such as construction delays and the high cost or sudden unavailability of certain materials, while keeping the project on time and within budget.

Visualization. Interior designers need a strong sense of proportion and visual awareness in order to understand how pieces of a design will fit together to create the intended interior environment.

Interior Designer Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for interior designers is $60,340. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,930, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $99,070.

The median annual wages for interior designers in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Architectural, engineering, and related services $63,210
Wholesale trade $61,820
Specialized design services $58,840
Furniture stores $48,790

Interior designers may need to adjust their workday to suit their clients' schedules and deadlines, meeting with clients during evening and weekend hours when necessary.

Job Outlook for Interior Designers[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of interior designers is projected to show little or no change over the next ten years.

Despite limited employment growth, about 8,200 openings for interior designers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Most of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment of Interior Designers

As the demand for renovation projects increases, homeowners and companies are expected to need services provided by interior designers to help create safe and functional spaces. A greater focus on building codes, as well as the need to design spaces that meet accessibility standards, may also help to create jobs for these workers.

However, there will be fewer opportunities for self-employed interior designers to renovate existing homes, commercial buildings, and other facilities.

Employment projections data for Interior Designers, 2021-31
Occupational Title Employment, 2021 Projected Employment, 2031 Change, 2021-31
Percent Numeric
Interior designers 93,300 94,200 1 800

Careers Related to Interior Designers[About this section] [To Top]

Architects

Architects plan and design houses, factories, office buildings, and other structures.

Art Directors

Art directors are responsible for the visual style and images in magazines, newspapers, product packaging, and movie and television productions. They create the overall design of a project and direct others who develop artwork and layouts.

Craft and Fine Artists

Craft and fine artists use a variety of materials and techniques to create art for sale and exhibition. Craft artists create handmade objects, such as pottery, glassware, textiles, and other objects that are designed to be functional. Fine artists, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators, create original works of art for their aesthetic value, rather than for a functional one.

Fashion Designers

Fashion designers create original clothing, accessories, and footwear. They sketch designs, select fabrics and patterns, and give instructions on how to make the products they design.

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Floral Designers

Floral designers, also called florists, cut and arrange live, dried, and silk flowers and greenery to make decorative displays. They also help customers select flowers, containers, ribbons, and other accessories.

Graphic Designers

Graphic designers create visual concepts, using computer software or by hand, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, and captivate consumers. They develop the overall layout and production design for various applications such as advertisements, brochures, magazines, and corporate reports.

Industrial Designers

Industrial designers develop the concepts for manufactured products, such as cars, home appliances, and toys. They combine art, business, and engineering to make products that people use every day. Industrial designers consider the function, aesthetics, production costs, and usability of products when developing new product concepts.

Landscape Architects

Landscape architects design parks and the outdoor spaces of campuses, recreational facilities, businesses, private homes, and other open areas.

More Interior Designer Information[About this section] [To Top]

For more information about interior designers, visit

American Society of Interior Designers

International Interior Design Association

For more information on accredited college degree programs in interior design, visit

National Association of Schools of Art and Design

Council for Interior Design Accreditation

For more information on licensing, visit

National Council for Interior Design Qualification

California Council for Interior Design Certification

For more information on accredited kitchen and bath specialty programs in colleges and universities and on voluntary certification programs in residential kitchen and bath design, visit

National Kitchen & Bath Association

A portion of the information on this page is used by permission of the U.S. Department of Labor.

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