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Working As a Commercial Interior Designer

  • Getting Information
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Deal with People

  • $45,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Commercial Interior Designer Do

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.

Duties

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
  • Conduct the construction administration of the project and coordinate with general building contractors to implement the plans and specifications to build the project
  • Visit the site after the project is complete, to ensure that the client is satisfied

Interior designers work closely with architects, structural engineers, mechanical engineers, and builders 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. For more information on structural engineers, see the profile on civil engineers. For more information on builders, see the profile on construction laborers and helpers.

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 will use building information modeling (BIM) software to create three-dimensional visualizations that include construction elements such as walls or roofs.

Many designers specialize in a particular type of building, such as homes, hospitals, or hotels; a specific room, 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:

Healthcare designers use the evidence-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.

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 that a building and its interior space were designed with the use of sustainable concepts.

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.

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.

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.

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How To Become A Commercial Interior Designer

Interior designers usually need a bachelor’s degree with a focus on interior design.

Education

A bachelor’s degree is usually required, 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 320 postsecondary colleges, universities, and independent institutes with 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, and bachelor’s degree levels) in 45 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

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 those 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 a combination of education and experience. For example, applicants must have at least a bachelor’s degree in interior design and 2 years of 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 healthcare interior 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

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 it 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.

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.

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Average Length of Employment
Interior Designer 4.3 years
Interior Decorator 4.3 years
Home Designer 3.9 years
Furniture Designer 3.6 years
Designer 3.1 years
Project Designer 3.0 years
Junior Designer 1.6 years
Top Careers Before Commercial Interior Designer
Designer 9.8%
Internship 3.8%
Owner 2.1%
Top Careers After Commercial Interior Designer
Designer 8.6%
Owner 3.5%
Instructor 2.3%

Do you work as a Commercial Interior Designer?

Average Yearly Salary
$45,000
Show Salaries
$33,000
Min 10%
$45,000
Median 50%
$45,000
Median 50%
$45,000
Median 50%
$45,000
Median 50%
$45,000
Median 50%
$45,000
Median 50%
$45,000
Median 50%
$61,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Tesla
Highest Paying City
Washington, DC
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
3.7 years
How much does a Commercial Interior Designer make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Commercial Interior Designer in the United States is $45,421 per year or $22 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $33,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $61,000.

Real Commercial Interior Designer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Commercial Designer Bradford Products LLC Wilmington, NC Jun 09, 2013 $92,000 -
$107,640
Commercial Designer Bradford Products LLC Wilmington, NC Jun 10, 2011 $92,000 -
$107,640
Commercial Designer Bradford Products LLC Wilmington, NC Jun 10, 2011 $82,800 -
$94,000
Commercial Designer Weiita International Corp. Moonachie, NJ May 11, 2015 $80,000
Commercial Designer East-West Players, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Sep 06, 2012 $79,602
Commercial Designer Touch of Beauty Supply, Inc. Harvey, IL Sep 08, 2015 $73,382
Commercial Designer Schneller LLC Kent, OH Dec 01, 2014 $65,000
Commercial Design Hyde Park Mouldings, Inc. Hauppauge, NY Sep 01, 2013 $62,000
Commercial Designer Eposeidon Outdoor Adventures Inc. Hempstead, NY Sep 12, 2014 $60,523
Commercial Interior Designer Hudson Furniture Inc. New York, NY Nov 16, 2016 $60,000
Commercial Designer JST Collection Corp. Englewood, NJ Mar 05, 2015 $58,749
Commercial Interior Designer Sys-Con, LLC Montgomery, AL Nov 26, 2014 $58,350
Commercial Designer Twoseven Inc. New York, NY Nov 15, 2014 $57,200
Commercial Interior Designer I Solomon Cordwell Buenz San Francisco, CA Jul 13, 2015 $49,600 -
$60,000
Commercial Designer Arister Group, Inc. New York, NY Dec 23, 2011 $49,400
Commercial Designer L & P Group USA Inc. New York, NY Dec 09, 2016 $48,422
Commercial Designer Nicosia Creative Expresso Ltd. New York, NY Jul 09, 2016 $48,422
Commercial Designer Systec International Inc. New York, NY Aug 25, 2016 $48,422
Commercial Designer L & P Group USA Inc. New York, NY Sep 12, 2013 $48,147
Commercial Designer Joy Import & Wholesale, Inc. Glen Rock, NJ Feb 10, 2012 $48,048
Commercial Designer (Textile) SG International Inc. New York, NY Sep 10, 2014 $45,760
Commercial Designer E & E Co., Ltd. Fremont, CA Aug 16, 2016 $45,718
Commercial (Jewelry) Designer Marina B Holding LLC New York, NY Oct 01, 2012 $45,000
Commercial Designer Sweet People Apparel, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Aug 07, 2011 $43,910
Commercial Designer Tycoon International Inc. New York, NY Jan 11, 2016 $43,869
Commercial Arts Designer Thinktank Learning, Inc. Santa Clara, CA Sep 19, 2012 $43,180
Commercial Designer DA Big Inc. Bergenfield, NJ Sep 26, 2013 $43,000

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Top Skills for A Commercial Interior Designer

  1. Furniture Systems
  2. CAD
  3. Space Planning
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Selected furniture systems, finishes and specifications.
  • Utilized information from consultation to construct AutoCAD Architectural design.
  • Contracted with commercial furniture dealerships utilizing space planning and product specification services.
  • Research furniture needs for customer requests, provided drawings for furniture consultants consisting of furniture layouts and installation drawings.
  • Project Management of Architectural clients including Master Planning and Urban Development coordination and execution.

Rank:

Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Commercial Interior Designers

  1. Washington
  2. New York
  3. North Carolina
  4. District of Columbia
  5. New Hampshire
  6. Oregon
  7. Connecticut
  8. Alaska
  9. Massachusetts
  10. California
  • (137 jobs)
  • (434 jobs)
  • (120 jobs)
  • (47 jobs)
  • (19 jobs)
  • (64 jobs)
  • (38 jobs)
  • (3 jobs)
  • (92 jobs)
  • (577 jobs)

Commercial Interior Designer Demographics

Gender

Female

61.5%

Male

27.9%

Unknown

10.6%
Ethnicity

White

60.1%

Hispanic or Latino

15.6%

Black or African American

11.9%

Asian

7.7%

Unknown

4.6%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

50.0%

French

25.0%

Italian

12.5%

Portuguese

6.3%

Arabic

6.3%
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Commercial Interior Designer Education

Schools

Drexel University

8.8%

Kansas State University

7.4%

University of Connecticut

5.9%

Fashion Institute of Technology

5.9%

Savannah College of Art and Design

5.9%

Iowa State University

5.9%

University of Missouri - Columbia

5.9%

Art Institute of Pittsburgh

5.9%

University of Florida

4.4%

Arizona State University

4.4%

University of Nebraska - Lincoln

4.4%

Arapahoe Community College

4.4%

Harrington College of Design

4.4%

University of Massachusetts Amherst

4.4%

Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising

4.4%

Kent State University

4.4%

Mississippi State University

4.4%

Syracuse University

2.9%

Maricopa Community Colleges - Scottsdale Community College

2.9%

Washington State University

2.9%
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Majors

Interior Design

50.6%

Fine Arts

7.0%

Architecture

6.6%

Business

5.8%

Graphic Design

5.4%

Interior Architecture

3.9%

Environmental Design

2.7%

Psychology

1.9%

Nursing

1.9%

Mechanical Engineering

1.6%

Marketing

1.6%

Construction Management

1.6%

Architectural Technology

1.2%

Engineering

1.2%

Photography

1.2%

Urban Planning

1.2%

Computer Science

1.2%

General Education, Specific Areas

1.2%

Computer Applications

1.2%

Electrical Engineering

1.2%
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Degrees

Bachelors

54.5%

Other

18.1%

Masters

11.2%

Associate

11.2%

Certificate

3.7%

Diploma

0.6%

License

0.3%

Doctorate

0.3%
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Updated May 19, 2020