Interior Designers

Summary

Interior designers
Interior designers select and specify colors, furniture, and other materials to create useful and stylish interiors for buildings.
Quick Facts: Interior Designers
2015 Median Pay $48,840 per year
$23.48 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2014 58,900
Job Outlook, 2014-24 4% (Slower than average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 2,200

What Interior Designers 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.

Work Environment

Many interior designers work for the specialized design services industry or for the architectural, engineering, and related services industry. In 2014, about 1 in 4 were self-employed.

How to Become an Interior Designer

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

Pay

The median annual wage for interior designers was $48,840 in May 2015.

Job Outlook

Employment of interior designers is projected to grow 4 percent from 2014 to 2024, slower than the average for all occupations. Designers will be needed to respond to consumer expectations that the interiors of homes and offices meet certain conditions, such as being environmentally friendly and more easily accessible.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for interior designers.

Similar Occupations

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

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about interior designers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Interior Designers Do About this section

Interior designers
Interior designers make interior spaces functional, safe, and beautiful for almost every type of building.

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.

Work Environment About this section

Interior designers
Interior designers travel to the clients’ design sites.

Interior designers held about 58,900 jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most interior designers were as follows:

Specialized design services 30%
Architectural, engineering, and related services 15
Furniture stores 8
Wholesale trade 6
Residential building construction 4

Most interior designers work in clean, comfortable offices. About 1 in 4 interior designers were self-employed in 2014. 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.

Work Schedules

Most interior designers work full time. They may need to adjust their workday to suit their clients’ schedules and deadlines, meeting with clients during evening and weekend hours when necessary. Interior designers also travel to the clients’ design sites.

How to Become an Interior Designer About this section

Interior designers
Interior designers must be able to work closely with architects and builders to determine the design of the interior space.

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.

Pay About this section

Interior Designers

Median annual wages, May 2015

Interior designers

$48,840

Art and design workers

$43,950

Total, all occupations

$36,200

 

The median annual wage for interior designers was $48,840 in May 2015. 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 $26,130, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $91,360.

In May 2015, the median annual wages for interior designers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Architectural, engineering, and related services $57,460
Residential building construction 52,640
Wholesale trade 50,150
Specialized design services 47,940
Furniture stores 43,500

Most interior designers work full time. They may need to adjust their workday to suit their clients’ schedules and deadlines, meeting with clients during evening and weekend hours when necessary. Interior designers also travel to the clients’ design sites.

Job Outlook About this section

Interior Designers

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Total, all occupations

7%

Interior designers

4%

Art and design workers

2%

 

Employment of interior designers is projected to grow 4 percent from 2014 to 2024, slower than the average for all occupations. Designers will be needed to respond to consumer expectations that the interiors of structures such as residential homes or office spaces meet certain conditions, such as being environmentally friendly and more easily accessible.

Although only about 5 percent of interior designers are directly employed in the construction industry, many interior designers are heavily dependent on that industry to generate new construction and renovation projects for them to work on. Overall employment in the construction industry is projected to grow over the projection period.

Long-term funding plans help ensure demand for interior designs. Remodeling of large public spaces and facilities, such as hospitals, hotels, and schools, often is funded as part of a long-term project. Companies typically budget money over many years, so that they can afford remodeling efforts when necessary, regardless of economic conditions. In addition, as part of creating their corporate image, more companies are expected to take advantage of opportunities to use new furnishing and design concepts, to make their interior space easily identifiable.

Employment of interior designers in specialized design services firms is projected to grow 8 percent from 2014 to 2024. As interior designers focus on increasingly specialized design areas such as hospitality, healthcare, and commercial and corporate design, there will be a greater need for them to collaborate with other designers and in other design-related fields.

Job Prospects

Job prospects should be better in high-income areas, because wealthy clients are more likely than others to engage in remodeling and renovating their spaces. Keeping up to date with the newest design tools, such as three-dimensional computer-aided design (CAD) software, also will improve one’s job prospects.

Interior designers who specialize, such as those who design kitchens, may benefit by becoming an expert in their particular area. By specializing in a unique area of design, interior designers can use their knowledge of products to better fulfill customer requests.

Employment projections data for interior designers, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Interior designers

27-1025 58,900 61,100 4 2,200 [XLSX]

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of interior designers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2015 MEDIAN PAY Help
Architects

Architects

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

Bachelor's degree $76,100
Art directors

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.

Bachelor's degree $89,760
Craft and fine artists

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.

See How to Become One $45,080
Fashion designers

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 designed.

Bachelor's degree $63,670
Floral designers

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.

High school diploma or equivalent $25,010
Industrial designers

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 the usability of products when developing new product concepts.

Bachelor's degree $67,130
Landscape architects

Landscape Architects

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

Bachelor's degree $63,810
Graphic designers

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.

Bachelor's degree $46,900

Contacts for More Information About this section

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 the national licensure qualifying exam, visit

National Council for Interior Design Qualification

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

National Kitchen & Bath Association

O*NET

Interior Designers

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Interior Designers,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/interior-designers.htm (visited December 05, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. This tab may also provide information on earnings in the major industries employing the occupation.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's Career InfoNet.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2014

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2014, which is the base year of the 2014-24 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2014-24

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.