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When we think of a dream job, interior design is probably high up on many people's list. Coming up with functional and beautiful interior spaces for a living does not fall short of glamorous.

Interior design, however, goes way beyond selecting harmonious colors for drapery and picking nice furniture. People interested in Oriental culture might already have some idea of how interior design affects our mood and outlook on life, how spaces might energize or calm us, depending on the way they are structured.

Studies have shown, for example, that the sight of windows may alleviate physical pain. The color blue often dominates business environments because it is a color that increases productivity. Natural materials seem to promote concentration, so investing in natural light sources and furniture made of wood or other organic materials is not only eco-friendly but would eventually return profits as well.

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.

Learn more about what an Interior Designer does

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.

Interior Designer Career Paths

Average Salary for an Interior Designer

Interior Designers in America make an average salary of $52,238 per year or $25 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $70,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $38,000 per year.
Average Interior Designer Salary
$52,238 Yearly
$25.11 hourly
$38,000
10 %
$52,000
Median
$70,000
90 %

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Interior Designer Education

Interior Designer Majors

Interior Designer Degrees

Bachelors

69.4 %

Associate

18.0 %

Masters

5.9 %

Top Colleges for Interior Designers

1. Cornell University

Ithaca, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,188
Enrollment
15,105

2. University of Washington

Seattle, WA • Private

In-State Tuition
$11,207
Enrollment
30,905

3. University of Maryland - College Park

College Park, MD • Private

In-State Tuition
$10,595
Enrollment
30,184

4. Ball State University

Muncie, IN • Private

In-State Tuition
$9,896
Enrollment
15,529

5. University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Minneapolis, MN • Private

In-State Tuition
$14,760
Enrollment
31,451

6. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

7. University of Texas at Austin

Austin, TX • Private

In-State Tuition
$10,610
Enrollment
40,329

8. Yale University

New Haven, CT • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,430
Enrollment
5,963

9. Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta, GA • Private

In-State Tuition
$12,424
Enrollment
15,201

10. Texas Tech University

Lubbock, TX • Private

In-State Tuition
$9,080
Enrollment
30,795

Top Skills For an Interior Designer

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 11.4% of interior designers listed revit on their resume, but soft skills such as problem-solving skills and visualization are important as well.

Choose From 10+ Customizable Interior Designer Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Interior Designer templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Interior Designer resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

Interior Designer Resume
Interior Designer Resume
Interior Designer Resume
Interior Designer Resume
Interior Designer Resume
Interior Designer Resume
Interior Designer Resume
Interior Designer Resume
Interior Designer Resume
Interior Designer Resume
Interior Designer Resume
Interior Designer Resume
Interior Designer Resume
Interior Designer Resume
Interior Designer Resume
Interior Designer Resume

Interior Designer Demographics

Interior Designer Gender Distribution

Female
Female
79%
Male
Male
21%

After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among interior designers, 79.0% of them are women, while 21.0% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among interior designers is White, which makes up 83.9% of all interior designers.

  • The most common foreign language among interior designers is Spanish at 40.6%.

Online Courses For Interior Designer That You May Like

Advertising Disclosure  The courses listed below are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the course, we may receive a commission.
Mastering Interior Design Styles
udemy
4.6
(304)

Criteria and Characteristics Of Different Interior Design Styles Simplified...

Architectural Design Tools in Blender - 3D Design
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4
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Create 3D architectural models & achieve stunning design results in Blender - Interior 3D Scenes all inside Blender...

How to Work with Interior Design Styles Like a Pro
udemy
4.5
(8,174)

Interior Design Styles Demystified...

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Best States For an Interior Designer

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as an interior designer. The best states for people in this position are New York, West Virginia, California, and New Mexico. Interior designers make the most in New York with an average salary of $57,022. Whereas in West Virginia and California, they would average $56,776 and $55,878, respectively. While interior designers would only make an average of $55,303 in New Mexico, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. New York

Total Interior Designer Jobs:
1,424
Highest 10% Earn:
$76,000
Location Quotient:
1.43 Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. District of Columbia

Total Interior Designer Jobs:
206
Highest 10% Earn:
$80,000
Location Quotient:
1.58 Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Maine

Total Interior Designer Jobs:
119
Highest 10% Earn:
$67,000
Location Quotient:
1.16 Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For Interior Designers

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Top Interior Designer Employers

Most Common Employers For Interior Designer

Rank  Company  Average Salary  Hourly Rate  Job Openings  
1Perkins&Will$58,875$28.31104
2Perkins Eastman$58,744$28.2434
3Skidmore, Owings & Merrill$58,701$28.2227
4Gensler$57,930$27.8570
5CallisonRTKL$57,310$27.5531
6Stantec$57,114$27.4628
7LEO A DALY$54,484$26.1926
8CBRE Group$52,881$25.4254
9IKEA Holding US, Inc.$52,671$25.3264
10Robb & Stucky$52,238$25.1140

Interior Designer Videos

Becoming an Interior Designer FAQs

Architect vs. Interior Designer

An architect is a professional tasked with designing buildings and structures, while an interior designer is a professional that organizes and creates interior spaces of homes and buildings.

Interior Designer vs. Decorator

An interior designer utilizes the art and science of understanding people's behavior to create functional spaces within a building or home, while a decorator is more focused on the final touches of a space's decorations.

Interior Designer vs. Interior Decorator

An interior designer utilizes the art and science of understanding people's behavior to create functional spaces within a building or home, while an interior decorator is more focused on the final touches of a space's decorations with furniture and other accessories.

Can interior designers be rich?

Yes, interior designers can be rich. While the median annual salary is $55,000, many interior designers earn salaries in the six-figure range.

An interior designer helps plan and decorate living and working spaces for clients. To make a high income as an interior designer, a person can work as a freelancer, setting their rates and managing their workload.

Do interior designers get paid well?

Yes, interior designers get paid well. The average global annual salary for an interior designer is just over $78,000 in a year.

However, the median pay for interior designers in the United States is only around $56,000 per year or about $27 per hour. Meanwhile, the highest ten percent of earners netted more than $96,000 per year.

How do I become an interior designer with no experience?

You become an interior designer with no experience by learning about design principles and pursuing entry-level positions. While not guaranteed to get someone a job as an interior designer, these steps will at least help a person have access to become one.

How do I start my career in interior design?

You start your career in interior design by gaining a bachelor's degree. Standard degree programs for people who want to work in interior design include architecture and design theory.

In general, a person needs a minimum of two years of full-time, on-the-job training and experience before they can officially market themselves as an interior designer. So gaining employment within interior design is a crucial step. This opportunity might be an internship, apprenticeship, or entry-level job at interior design firms.

What qualifications do you need to be an interior designer?

The qualifications you need to be an interior designer are obtaining a bachelor's degree and job experience. Standard degree programs for people who want to work in interior design include architecture and design theory.

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