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Become An Interior Designer

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Working As An 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

  • $55,000

    Average Salary

What Does An 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 An 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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Interior Designer Career Paths

Interior Designer
Project Manager Program Manager Product Manager
Business Development Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Project Coordinator Program Manager General Manager
Business Owner
6 Yearsyrs
Property Manager Portfolio Manager Strategist
Business Strategist
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Project Manager Management Consultant Manager And Consultant
Consultant/Marketing Director
10 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Design Designer Designer Art Director
Creative Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Graphic Designer Senior Designer
Design Director
7 Yearsyrs
Freelance Designer Lead Designer Project Manager
Director
7 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Senior Project Manager
Director Of Project Management
12 Yearsyrs
Senior Designer Creative Director Marketing Director
Director Of Sales
10 Yearsyrs
Sales Manager Property Manager Facilities Manager
Facilities Maintenance Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Sales Manager Account Manager
Key Account Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Freelance Designer Senior Designer
Lead Designer
5 Yearsyrs
Architectural Designer Structural Designer Senior Designer
Principal Designer
10 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Design Designer Product Designer
Product Design Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Graphic Designer Office Manager Account Manager
Regional Accounts Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Sales Consultant Project Coordinator Operations Project Manager
Regional Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Designer Art Director
Senior Art Director
6 Yearsyrs
Lead Designer Art Director User Interaction Designer
Senior User Experience Designer
8 Yearsyrs
Project Coordinator Operations Manager Account Executive
Territory Sales Manager
7 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as an Interior Designer?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Owner & Designer 6.0 years
Interior Decorator 4.3 years
Interior Designer 4.0 years
Furniture Designer 3.8 years
Kitchen Designer 3.7 years
Head Designer 3.4 years
Lighting Designer 3.0 years
Designer 3.0 years
Project Designer 2.8 years
Associate Designer 2.3 years
Assistant Designer 1.7 years
Junior Designer 1.6 years
Top Careers Before Interior Designer
Internship 10.2%
Designer 7.6%
Architect 2.9%
Owner 2.8%
Top Careers After Interior Designer
Designer 7.0%
Owner 5.8%
Internship 3.3%
Manager 2.8%

Do you work as an Interior Designer?

Interior Designer Demographics

Gender

Female

77.8%

Male

19.9%

Unknown

2.3%
Ethnicity

White

61.0%

Hispanic or Latino

14.8%

Black or African American

10.9%

Asian

8.6%

Unknown

4.6%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

38.2%

French

14.3%

Italian

6.8%

Arabic

6.3%

Chinese

5.0%

German

4.3%

Mandarin

3.8%

Russian

3.8%

Korean

3.3%

Japanese

3.3%

Portuguese

3.0%

Turkish

1.3%

Armenian

1.0%

Croatian

1.0%

Persian

1.0%

Hindi

0.8%

Ukrainian

0.8%

Bosnian

0.8%

Cantonese

0.8%

Serbian

0.8%
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Interior Designer Education

Schools

Fashion Institute of Technology

14.7%

Savannah College of Art and Design

10.5%

Drexel University

6.7%

New York School of Interior Design

6.3%

Harrington College of Design

5.1%

Michigan State University

4.9%

Florida State University

4.7%

Art Institute of Pittsburgh

4.7%

Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising

4.3%

Iowa State University

4.1%

Arizona State University

3.9%

University of Alabama

3.8%

Academy of Art University

3.7%

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

3.7%

Eastern Michigan University

3.6%

Marymount University

3.2%

Virginia Commonwealth University

3.2%

Syracuse University

3.1%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

3.0%

West Virginia University

3.0%
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Majors

Interior Design

59.6%

Business

5.8%

Architecture

5.0%

Interior Architecture

4.9%

Fine Arts

4.7%

Graphic Design

4.0%

Marketing

1.7%

Environmental Design

1.7%

Education

1.6%

Management

1.2%

Psychology

1.1%

Drafting And Design

1.1%

English

1.0%

Accounting

1.0%

Real Estate

1.0%

Specialized Sales And Merchandising

1.0%

Communication

1.0%

Liberal Arts

1.0%

General Education, Specific Areas

0.8%

Elementary Education

0.8%
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Degrees

Bachelors

51.9%

Other

18.3%

Associate

12.0%

Masters

11.3%

Certificate

4.5%

Diploma

1.1%

Doctorate

0.4%

License

0.4%
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Real Interior Designer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Senior Interior Designer Unispace Inc. Westwood, MA Mar 05, 2016 $130,000
Senior Interior Designer Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. Santa Monica, CA Nov 16, 2015 $125,000
SR. Interior Designer Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. Santa Monica, CA Apr 06, 2015 $115,000
Senior Interior Designer Volkswagen of America Santa Monica, CA Jul 22, 2016 $115,000
Senior Interior Designer Unispace Inc. New York, NY Jan 14, 2016 $110,000
Interior Designer Martin Brudnizki Design Studio LLC New York, NY Nov 08, 2016 $110,000
Senior Interior Designer Inner View Inc. New York, NY Aug 29, 2016 $105,000
Interior Designer BKH New York Inc. New York, NY Feb 28, 2016 $100,000
SR. Interior Designer Grand Performer Inc. Orlando, FL Sep 24, 2015 $100,000
Interior Designer Pierce Allen, Inc. New York, NY Jun 11, 2015 $100,000
Senior Interior Designer Inner View Inc. New York, NY Apr 03, 2015 $100,000
Interior Designer III Perkins + Will, Inc. New York, NY Sep 19, 2016 $99,403
Interior Architect, Designer Cumar, Inc. Everett, MA Jan 09, 2016 $54,600
Interior Designer Shakuff LLC New York, NY Sep 19, 2016 $54,262
Intermediate Interior Designer Perkins Eastman Architects P.C. New York, NY Apr 14, 2016 $54,101
Interior Designer Smart Space, LLC New York, NY Jun 12, 2015 $54,101
Interior Designer Seoul SHIK POOM, Inc. Englewood, NJ Oct 29, 2015 $54,101
Senior Interior Designer Gortaroe Construction of Ny, Inc. New York, NY Jul 22, 2015 $54,101
Intermediate Interior Designer Perkins Eastman Architects P.C. New York, NY Feb 11, 2015 $54,101
Interior Designer Dlenglish Design Studio, Inc. Pasadena, CA Feb 22, 2016 $54,080
Interior Design Coord R. Crowe P.A. Wellington, FL Dec 11, 2015 $44,907
Interior Design Coordin R. Crowe P.A. Wellington, FL Jul 29, 2016 $44,907
Interior Designer Avigail Eisenstadt Design Group LLC Inwood, NY Jan 05, 2016 $44,871
Interior Designer Purchasing Partners, Inc. Dunwoody, GA May 09, 2016 $44,349
Interior Designer II Pierre-YVES Rochon, Inc. Chicago, IL Jan 09, 2016 $44,290

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AVERAGE SALARY FOR An Interior Designer

Average Yearly Salary
$55,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$34,000
Min 10%
$55,000
Median 50%
$55,000
Median 50%
$55,000
Median 50%
$55,000
Median 50%
$55,000
Median 50%
$55,000
Median 50%
$55,000
Median 50%
$90,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Forever 21
Highest Paying City
Everett, WA
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
4.2 years
How much does an Interior Designer make at top companies?
The national average salary for an Interior Designer in the United States is $56,013 per year or $27 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $34,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $90,000.

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Top Skills for An Interior Designer

  1. Office Furniture
  2. Space Planning
  3. Graphic Design
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Space planning, Selling new and used office furniture, represent the company in multiple local networking groups.
  • Perform client interviews to identify project objectives, conduct field investigation, inventory evaluation, and space planning requirements.
  • Maintained portfolio of artistic work demonstrating interior graphic design styles.
  • Developed, prepared and implemented AutoCAD drawings for tenant improvement and residential projects.
  • Provide direction and leadership for all responsibilities related to accounts receivable, customer service and operations of a privately owned company.

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Top 10 Best States for Interior Designers

  1. Alaska
  2. District of Columbia
  3. Hawaii
  4. Delaware
  5. Maryland
  6. New York
  7. Massachusetts
  8. Rhode Island
  9. Michigan
  10. Arkansas
  • (16 jobs)
  • (63 jobs)
  • (25 jobs)
  • (29 jobs)
  • (171 jobs)
  • (629 jobs)
  • (219 jobs)
  • (20 jobs)
  • (220 jobs)
  • (41 jobs)

Top Interior Designer Employers

Jobs From Top Interior Designer Employers

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