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
2012 Median Pay $47,600 per year
$22.89 per hour
Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2012 54,900
Job Outlook, 2012-22 13% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 7,000

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.

Work Environment

Many interior designers work for the specialized design services industry or for architectural, engineering, and related services industries. In 2012, about 25 percent 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 $47,600 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of interior designers is projected to grow 13 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as 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.

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

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.                                     

Duties

Interior designers typically do the following:

  • Search for and bid on new projects
  • Determine the client’s goals and requirements of the project
  • Consider how the space will be used and how people will move through the space
  • Sketch preliminary design plans, including electrical layouts
  • Specify materials and furnishings, such as lighting, furniture, wall finishes, flooring, and plumbing fixtures
  • Prepare final plans, using computer applications
  • Create a timeline for the interior design project and estimate project costs
  • Place orders for materials and oversee installing the design elements
  • Visit after the project 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.

Although some sketches or drawings may be freehand, most interior designers use computer-aided design (CAD) software for the majority of their drawings.

Many designers specialize in a particular type of building (home, hospital, or hotel), a specific room (bathroom or kitchen), 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. This may include floor 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:

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 was designed with the use of sustainable concepts.

Universal designers renovate spaces, 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 entry 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.

Lighting designers focus on the effect of lighting for home, office, and public spaces. For example, lighting designers may work on stage productions, in gallery and museum spaces, and in healthcare facilities, to find appropriate light fixtures and lighting effects for each space.

Work Environment

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

Interior designers held about 54,900 jobs in 2012. Most interior designers work in clean, comfortable offices. About 25 percent of interior designers were self-employed in 2012. Technology has changed the way many designers work. For example, rather than using drafting tables, interior designers now use complex software to create 2-D or 3-D images.

The industries that employed the most interior designers in 2012 were as follows:

Specialized design services30%
Architectural, engineering, and related services16
Furniture stores6
Merchant wholesalers, durable goods5
Construction4

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

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 300 postsecondary colleges, universities, and independent institutes with programs in art and design. The Council for Interior Design Accreditation accredits more than 150 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 level) 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 interior design work, however only licensed designers may use the title interior designer. Yet in 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 to take the NCIDQ exam include a combination of education and experience. Typically, applicants have at least a bachelor’s degree in interior design, plus 2 years of experience.

California requires a different exam, administered by the California Council for Interior Design Certification (CCIDC). Qualifications to take the CCIDC exam include a combination of education and experience.

Voluntary certification in an interior design specialty, such as kitchens and baths, allows interior designers to demonstrate expertise in a particular area of interior design. 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 look great and 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 making drawings, so that furniture and furnishings will fit correctly and create the appropriate environment.

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 selected materials, while keeping the project on time and within budget.

Visualization. Interior designers need a strong sense of proportion and visual awareness, to understand how pieces of a design will fit together to create the intended interior environment.

Pay

Interior Designers

Median annual wages, May 2012

Interior designers

$47,600

Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations

$43,930

Total, all occupations

$34,750

 

The median annual wage for interior designers was $47,600 in May 2012. 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 $25,670, and the top 10 percent earned more than $86,900.

In May 2012, the median annual wages for interior designers in the top five industries in which these designers worked were as follows:

Architectural, engineering, and related services$54,360
Merchant wholesalers, durable goods48,550
Specialized design services47,090
Construction44,320
Furniture stores39,930

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

Interior Designers

Percent change in employment, projected 2012-22

Interior designers

13%

Total, all occupations

11%

Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations

7%

 

Employment of interior designers is projected to grow 13 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as 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.

Although only about 4 percent of interior designers are directly employed in the construction industry, many interior designers are heavily dependent on the construction 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.

Remodeling of large public spaces and facilities, such as hospitals, hotels, and schools, is often 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 20 percent from 2012 to 2022. As interior designers focus on increasingly specialized design areas, 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 homes.

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, 2012-22
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

Interior designers

27-1025 54,900 61,900 13 7,000 [XLS]

Similar Occupations

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

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2012 MEDIAN PAY
Architects

Architects

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

Bachelor’s degree $73,090
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 $80,880
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 or 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.

High school diploma or equivalent $44,380
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 $62,860
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 $23,810
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 focus on the user experience in creating style and function for a particular gadget or appliance.

Bachelor’s degree $59,610
Landscape architects

Landscape Architects

Landscape architects plan and design land areas for parks, recreational facilities, private homes, campuses, and other open spaces.

Bachelor’s degree $64,180
Graphic designers

Graphic Designers

Graphic designers create visual concepts, by hand or using computer software, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, or captivate consumers. They develop the overall layout and production design for advertisements, brochures, magazines, and corporate reports.

Bachelor’s degree $44,150

Contacts for More Information

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, 2014-15 Edition, Interior Designers,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/interior-designers.htm (visited September 16, 2014).

Publish Date: Wednesday, January 8, 2014