How to Become an Interior Designer

Interior Designer
Interior Designer Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year$62,570
Avg. Pay / hour$30.08
Education2-4 Years
Outlook19%
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Interior designers work to bring out the best of inside spaces.

They design and furnish homes, shops, restaurants, and offices spaces.

An interior designer’s job is to make a space of a room look great, feel welcoming, and stand out from the crowd.

If you love design, textiles, furniture, and art, then it’s likely that you would want to become an interior designer.

You’ll need to be a creative thinker, as creativity is a must.

You will also need to have good problem-solving skills, be organized, and also have strong interpersonal skills.

You will need to spend time talking with clients about their needs and also finding work.

Being an interior designer is about more than making a space look good.

You’ll also need to be able to read building blueprints and have a good knowledge of building codes.

Safety is important in the design of buildings and even in the placement and material of the furniture.

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Education Requirements to Become an Interior Designer

To become an interior designer, you’ll need to complete a four-year bachelor’s degree in interior design.

These days, most design work is done on computers.

While you’re at college, choose electives that give you a good understanding of computer-assisted design, or CAD.

Many college students apply for internship programs over their summer break.

These will make a big difference when you are applying for jobs and will help you to start making contacts in the industry.

If you do any design work while you are at college, take photos and start making a portfolio.

It is also possible to study interior design at a vocation school.

2 and 4-year programs are available.

Some firms also offer apprenticeship programs that run between 1-3 years for those that prefer to learn on the job, or have not completed a bachelor’s degree.

In most states, you will be required to be licensed to work as an interior designer.

You can find state-specific information at the NCIDQ website.

NCIDQ also runs an internship program that places student designers in work experience programs in some of the most prestigious firms in the country.

Placement in these programs is highly regarded.

Interior Designer Job Description

An interior designer works to put together components of interior space.

They may work with architects to design building layouts, choose colors schemes, select furniture, and other decor and accessories.

An interior designer must ensure that a room not only looks good, but is also practical, and follows and applicable safety regulations.

Here are some of the tasks of an interior designer:

  • Working with architects to discuss building planning
  • Meeting with clients to discuss design needs
  • Reading blueprints
  • Putting together design ideas and presenting them to clients
  • Sourcing textiles, furniture, and accessories
  • Keeping up to date with current trends
  • Ensuring all projects meet safety regulations

Interior Designer Salary and Career Path

Many interior designers start their careers out in firms, working with other designers.

Some are employed by builders or architects.

Many interior designers are self-employed and work on a freelance basis.

Interior designers are employed across the residential and commercial sectors.

Some designers will move on to own their own firms or businesses.

Others will work in specialized areas, such as interior design for residential homes, workplaces, or public buildings.

Some end up working in related fields, such as textiles, or fashion.

The median wage for an interior designer is $45,000 a year.

There is a lot of opportunities to earn well above this though.

The top 10% earn in excess of $80,000.

Those who work as a freelancer, or own their own firms have the potential to make a lot more than those with salary roles.

Those with an interest in design and creative ability will likely enjoy working as interior designers.

It’s a challenging role, that offers those who do this kind of work a lot of variety.

Employment is stable and growth average, so it’s a good industry to be qualified in.

Interior design can be challenging, and sometimes competitive, but those with a strong work ethic will have no problems.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary

$62,570
$30K
$46K
$62K
$77K
$99K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%

Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Alabama$57,580
Arizona$56,130
Arkansas$64,660
California$70,290
Colorado$66,880
Connecticut$60,720
Delaware$49,660
District of Columbia$79,420
Florida$60,600
Georgia$55,130
Hawaii$67,980
Idaho$47,270
Illinois$63,270
Indiana$56,300
Iowa$56,780
Kansas$59,320
Kentucky$55,360
Louisiana$58,980
Maine$57,430
Maryland$63,300
Massachusetts$73,140
Michigan$58,220
Minnesota$62,280
Mississippi$41,510
Missouri$62,220
Montana$45,190
Nebraska$56,590
Nevada$63,620
New Hampshire$67,880
New Jersey$67,430
New Mexico$50,650
New York$72,220
North Carolina$55,140
North Dakota$47,810
Ohio$55,640
Oklahoma$50,260
Oregon$67,870
Pennsylvania$61,550
Rhode Island$77,250
South Carolina$43,070
South Dakota$66,280
Tennessee$47,150
Texas$59,370
Utah$57,470
Vermont$47,860
Virginia$53,940
Washington$68,020
Wisconsin$54,540
Wyoming- NA -
Puerto Rico$31,570

The top earning state in the field is District of Columbia, where the average salary is $79,420.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

District of Columbia - $79,420
Rhode Island - $77,250
Massachusetts - $73,140
New York - $72,220
California - $70,290
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Interior Designers, OCC Code 27-1025, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does an interior designer do?

An interior designer creates aesthetic spaces.

Those can be indoor and outdoor environments, single rooms and whole mansions, private properties and hotels…

Interior designers have to be able to create spaces that are appealing to the eye but still functional and safe.

During the working process, an interior designer uses color palettes, furniture placement, functional decor, and decorations.

There is a wide range of areas in interior design.

Professionals can specialize in corporate design (the creation of workplaces), healthcare design, sustainable design, universal design, kitchen and bath design, etc.

Usually, an interior designer works as an independent contractor.

However, a professional might also be working for a large firm.

How much do interior designers make?

According to BLS, on average, interior designers earn $52.800 annually.

Typically, workers get paid around $25 per hour.

In the industry, interior designers can earn as little as $26.000 or over $86.000.

The salary of a designer heavily depends on the country and the city that he decides to work in, as well as on the chosen industry.

Interior designers that work at home furnishing stores earn around $42.000, while the workers that provide architectural and engineering design make nearly $58.000.

How much does it cost to become an interior designer?

A work of an interior designer is not only about making things ‘look pretty’.

A professional should possess technical knowledge and be able to use CAD software, estimate project costs, build codes, etc.

That’s why you might want to consider earning a degree in interior design.

A year in school will cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $60.000 (books, supplies, and accommodation included).

In case you go to a public school in your residential area, the cost will be drastically smaller.

What is the demand for interior designers?

According to BLS, the number of job places for interior designers will increase by 19% in the next few years.

That’s much faster than the national average.

However, you should bear in mind that the perspectives of the industry fully depend on the overall state of the economy in the country.

People tend to spend more money on renovation and remodeling interior spaces when they know exactly what to expect from the nearest future.

Typically, clients that have excess income and work in high-income areas are the people that will always be spending money on interior design.

How long does it take to become an interior designer?

Usually, a client or a firm will require the interior designer to have a license and a bachelor’s degree.

You can acquire an associate’s, a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in interior design.

It will take you 4 years to become a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Fine Arts.

In order to obtain state licensure, you would need to have an education and up to 2 years of working experience.

Only then you will be eligible to take the exam.

Jamie Willis