Interior Designers

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Interior Designers

Interior Designers


Schools and Education

What’s Needed:

  • A bachelor’s degree is needed in interior design or a related field such as fine art or architecture.
  • Coursework in computer-aided design is an asset as are business courses to help with budgeting duties.
  • Many designers go to schools to earn master’s degrees in the field.

What you study: Common study topics for interior designers include:

  • Computer-aided design
  • Art history
  • Design history
  • Design theory
  • Business
  • Architectural drawing

What courses you’ll take

Below are examples of courses that you’ll likely take as an interior designer student.

Course Studies Purpose
History and Theory of Interior Design Interior design views and trends through various historical periods; cultural influences on interior design practices; overview of the interior design profession as it stands today including space planning use of color and selection of furnishings and other materials. Introduce students to the development and modern structure of the interior design field.
Materials and Applications Types of materials used in interior design including various kinds of stone wood plastics and fabrics; sources and methods of production for these materials; uses of materials in construction and interior design; evaluating and purchasing materials with the appropriate aesthetics (look and feel) cost margins and functions for the job. Familiarize students with the material components of an interior design job.
Model Construction and Presentation Approaches to creating architectural models including sketching handcrafting miniatures laser-cutting and computer-aided design (CAD); materials and techniques used in drafting and crafting models; maintaining model accuracy; preparing and presenting models to clients. Ready students to assemble and display models for interior design projects.
Color and Lighting Principles History of color theory; scientific principles of color and light perception; technical terms used in discussions of color; development of color schemes for interior environments; designing and implementing lighting layouts; natural and artificial light sources and their impacts on colors and textures. Give understanding of color’s role in interior design and of the effects of various lighting types.
Interior Design in Practice Licensing and certification as an interior designer; day-to-day operations of an interior design business; writing proposals bidding on jobs setting budgets and schedules negotiating with outside contractors and managing a project from start to finish; marketing and expanding an interior design firm; legal and ethical issues in the field. Prepare students to assist in running an interior design company.


Video Overview

Briefly introduces the interior designing career. Produced for the US Department of Labor.


Certifications and Licensing

Certification for interior designers varies by state but most require designers to pass the National Council for Interior Design Qualification examination. Visit the NCIDQ website for eligibility information. Interior designers who plan to specialize may opt for additional certification from trade associations or professional organizations; a certified kitchen and bath designer or lighting specialist for example can provide clients with additional expertise.


Job Flexibility

Full-time versus part-time:

Interior designers need flexibility in their schedules. Because so much of their work involves clients they must be able to accommodate the clients’ schedules. Weekend and after-office appointments are common. Although most designers work full-time self-employed interior designers have more scheduling leeway and may work part-time.


Recommended Websites

Here are some of the top websites for researching a career in interior design:

  • American Society of Interior Designers ? With state of the industry reports videos and an extensive learning library the ASID website is an excellent first stop for prospective interior designers. Visit the Student Lounge section to find information on becoming an interior designer resources on career development and applications for student competitions.
  • International Interior Design Association ? This organization provides an international network of designers and design students with educational materials. The IIDA absorbed the Institute of Business Designers in 1994 and maintains a focus on business design but residential designers are also well represented. Qualifying students may find help from the IIDA to defray the cost of qualification exams. The forums and resume center are especially useful to prospective designers.
  • National Council for Interior Design Qualification ? This website is a wealth of information about the NCIDQ certification exam. Eligibility requirements testing supplies and webinars help students prepare for the test and focus their career aspirations. The Interior Design Experience Program gives entry-level designers valuable guidance in building their professional portfolio within a mentored program.
  • National Association of Schools of Art and Design ? The NASAD site lists information about hundreds of accredited interior design schools. Students who are looking for a good educational fit will find resources to help them choose the right program for them. A search feature provides contact information and site links to accredited programs.


Salaries by City

See typical salaries and ranges for this career below. Shift click to sort by more than one column — for example first shift-click on state and then shift-click on salary to find best and worst salaries in each state.

State City / Region Typical Salary Salary Range Job Count % of All Jobs
AK Anchorage $57600 $50K – $71K N/A N/A
AL Birmingham – Hoover $43190 $20K – $68K 160 0.03%
AL Huntsville $39420 $25K – $71K 60 0.03%
AL Mobile $40790 $18K – $89K 40 0.02%
AL Montgomery $37600 $27K – $91K N/A N/A
AR Fayetteville – Springdale – Rogers $37830 $28K – $72K 60 0.03%
AR Little Rock – North Little Rock – Conway $39580 $27K – $72K 60 0.02%
AZ Phoenix – Mesa – Glendale $51160 $29K – $94K 680 0.04%
AZ Tucson $45920 $24K – $81K 180 0.05%
CA Bakersfield – Delano $45490 $29K – $80K N/A N/A
CA Fresno $39700 $30K – $71K 40 0.01%
CA Los Angeles – Long Beach – Glendale (Metro Area) $59840 $32K – $95K 1820 0.05%
CA Modesto $60080 $21K – $91K 40 0.02%
CA Oakland – Fremont – Hayward (Metro Area) $24270 $21K – $67K N/A N/A
CA Oxnard – Thousand Oaks – Ventura $67900 $41K – $86K 110 0.04%
CA Riverside – San Bernardino – Ontario $58420 $29K – $93K N/A N/A
CA Sacramento – Arden – Arcade – Roseville $46700 $33K – $76K 270 0.03%
CA Salinas $43260 $21K – $115K N/A N/A
CA San Diego – Carlsbad – San Marcos $59070 $37K – $81K 690 0.06%
CA San Francisco – San Mateo – Redwood City (Metro Area) $69150 $37K – $115K 1140 0.11%
CA San Jose – Sunnyvale – Santa Clara $61790 $40K – $90K 210 0.02%
CA Santa Ana – Anaheim – Irvine (Metro Area) $64840 $34K – $89K 930 0.07%
CA Santa Barbara – Santa Maria – Goleta $66980 $41K – $93K 70 0.04%
CA Santa Cruz – Watsonville $41310 $33K – $88K N/A N/A
CA Santa Rosa – Petaluma $61240 $37K – $95K 60 0.04%
CO Colorado Springs $62170 $33K – $73K 40 0.02%
CO Denver – Aurora – Broomfield $47190 $32K – $125K 620 0.05%
CO Fort Collins – Loveland $30320 $25K – $67K N/A N/A
CT Bridgeport – Stamford – Norwalk $51590 $34K – $110K 320 0.08%
CT Hartford – West Hartford – East Hartford $60220 $48K – $91K N/A N/A
CT New Haven $51060 $32K – $75K 70 0.03%
CT Norwich – New London $48640 $33K – $59K N/A N/A
DC Washington – Arlington – Alexandria (Metro Area) $55990 $32K – $111K 1200 0.05%
DE Wilmington (Metro Area) $58290 $37K – $92K 100 0.03%
FL Cape Coral – Fort Myers $35460 $28K – $61K 60 0.03%
FL Crestview – Fort Walton Beach – Destin $27270 $19K – $46K 30 0.04%
FL Fort Lauderdale – Pompano Beach – Deerfield Beach (Metro Area) $38860 $21K – $101K 360 0.05%
FL Jacksonville $46860 $26K – $76K 310 0.05%
FL Miami – Miami Beach – Kendall (Metro Area) $40090 $24K – $85K 390 0.04%
FL Naples – Marco Island $54130 $31K – $109K 90 0.08%
FL North Port – Bradenton – Sarasota $31090 $18K – $89K 170 0.07%
FL Orlando – Kissimmee – Sanford $31820 $17K – $64K 560 0.05%
FL Palm Bay – Melbourne – Titusville $47810 $27K – $91K 50 0.02%
FL Pensacola – Ferry Pass – Brent $44710 $28K – $72K 30 0.02%
FL Tallahassee $36240 $27K – $74K 40 0.03%
FL Tampa – St. Petersburg – Clearwater $37140 $26K – $66K 340 0.03%
FL West Palm Beach – Boca Raton – Boynton Beach (Metro Area) $47260 $29K – $92K 280 0.06%
GA Atlanta – Sandy Springs – Marietta $45410 $26K – $75K 1330 0.06%
GA Augusta – Richmond County $34650 $21K – $60K 50 0.02%
GA Savannah $35630 $22K – $82K 90 0.06%
HI Honolulu $50750 $19K – $87K 80 0.02%
IA Cedar Rapids $36310 $27K – $62K 40 0.03%
IA Davenport – Moline – Rock Island $30910 $19K – $57K 40 0.02%
IA Des Moines – West Des Moines $44400 $25K – $124K 110 0.03%
ID Boise City – Nampa $40220 $24K – $66K 40 0.02%
IL Chicago – Joliet – Naperville (Metro Area) $56930 $34K – $89K 1150 0.03%
IL Lake County – Kenosha County (Metro Area) $26990 $19K – $69K 280 0.08%
IN Fort Wayne $34580 $18K – $66K 80 0.04%
IN Indianapolis – Carmel $43790 $29K – $75K 340 0.04%
IN South Bend – Mishawaka $35370 $18K – $58K N/A N/A
IN Terre Haute $51380 $29K – $63K N/A N/A
KS Wichita $45310 $26K – $71K 70 0.02%
KY Lexington – Fayette $43120 $24K – $62K 70 0.03%
KY Louisville – Jefferson County $41600 $27K – $62K 160 0.03%
LA Baton Rouge $37020 $20K – $58K 70 0.02%
LA New Orleans – Metairie – Kenner $46240 $28K – $62K 170 0.03%
LA Shreveport – Bossier City $41370 $33K – $58K N/A N/A
MA Boston – Cambridge – Quincy (Metro Area) $60570 $37K – $99K 830 0.05%
MA Framingham (Metro Area) $55650 $42K – $81K 40 0.03%
MA Lawrence – Methuen – Salem (Metro Area) $43660 $39K – $59K N/A N/A
MA Springfield $39210 $27K – $64K 60 0.02%
MA Worcester N/A N/A – N/A 100 0.04%
MD Baltimore – Towson $41870 $21K – $72K 590 0.05%
MD Bethesda – Rockville – Frederick (Metro Area) $46950 $33K – $95K 280 0.05%
ME Portland – South Portland – Biddeford $37940 $27K – $65K 80 0.04%
MI Ann Arbor $43530 $19K – $77K 80 0.04%
MI Detroit – Livonia – Dearborn (Metro Area) $65300 $30K – $74K 80 0.01%
MI Grand Rapids – Wyoming $48780 $27K – $65K 160 0.04%
MI Holland – Grand Haven $42550 $26K – $63K 30 0.03%
MI Kalamazoo – Portage $30590 $25K – $54K 60 0.04%
MI Warren – Troy – Farmington Hills (Metro Area) $45420 $28K – $76K 210 0.02%
MN Minneapolis – St. Paul – Bloomington $42630 $26K – $84K 700 0.04%
MN St. Cloud $32300 $26K – $52K 30 0.03%
MO Columbia $52350 $26K – $73K N/A N/A
MO Kansas City $42200 $25K – $75K 300 0.03%
MO Springfield $18610 $16K – $52K N/A N/A
MO St. Louis $45840 $31K – $84K 420 0.03%
MS Gulfport – Biloxi $49840 $38K – $61K 40 0.04%
MS Jackson $22780 $19K – $65K N/A N/A
NC Asheville $33360 $25K – $47K N/A N/A
NC Charlotte – Gastonia – Rock Hill $47310 $32K – $74K 250 0.03%
NC Durham – Chapel Hill $43560 $32K – $66K 90 0.03%
NC Greensboro – High Point $32330 $17K – $53K 200 0.06%
NC Raleigh – Cary $40440 $33K – $49K 90 0.02%
NC Wilmington $36380 $32K – $46K 40 0.03%
NC Winston – Salem $52710 $33K – $82K 110 0.06%
ND Bismarck $30880 $19K – $45K 40 0.06%
NE Lincoln $28900 $16K – $60K 90 0.05%
NE Omaha – Council Bluffs $45340 $20K – $77K 150 0.03%
NJ Camden (Metro Area) N/A N/A – N/A 80 0.02%
NJ Edison – New Brunswick(Metro Area) $51,460 $31K – $73K 250 0.03%
NJ Newark – Union (Metro Area) $48,580 $30K – $89K 280 0.03%
NM Albuquerque $37,940 $20K – $74K 140 0.04%
NM Santa Fe $48,630 $33K – $134K N/A N/A
NV Las Vegas – Paradise $42,990 $21K – $91K 220 0.03%
NV Reno – Sparks $43,720 $27K – $79K 40 0.02%
NY Albany – Schenectady – Troy $55,920 $31K – $84K 90 0.02%
NY Buffalo – Niagara Falls $41,780 $30K – $60K 110 0.02%
NY Nassau – Suffolk (Metro Area) $44,470 $35K – $87K 390 0.03%
NY New York – White Plains – Wayne (Metro Area) $61,690 $37K – $99K 2,540 0.05%
NY Poughkeepsie – Newburgh – Middletown $46,600 $33K – $67K 40 0.02%
NY Rochester $42,920 $33K – $69K 80 0.02%
NY Syracuse $44,610 $27K – $97K 60 0.02%
OH Akron $42,350 $27K – $68K 60 0.02%
OH Cincinnati – Middletown $43,550 $25K – $70K 380 0.04%
OH Cleveland – Elyria – Mentor $32,720 $18K – $70K 290 0.03%
OH Columbus $61,250 $24K – $132K 230 0.02%
OH Dayton $42,950 $27K – $80K 50 0.01%
OH Toledo $42,930 $19K – $60K 50 0.02%
OK Oklahoma City $43,550 $27K – $58K 90 0.01%
OK Tulsa $43,500 $30K – $85K 120 0.03%
OR Portland – Vancouver – Hillsboro $49,530 $38K – $74K 400 0.04%
PA Allentown – Bethlehem – Easton $54,040 $26K – $88K N/A N/A
PA Harrisburg – Carlisle $47,380 $33K – $75K 30 0.01%
PA Lancaster $43,380 $22K – $58K 60 0.03%
PA Philadelphia (Metro Area) $48,570 $24K – $80K 540 0.03%
PA Pittsburgh $41,940 $20K – $68K 190 0.02%
PA Scranton – Wilkes – Barre $39,420 $33K – $65K 30 0.01%
PR San Juan – Caguas – Guaynabo $48,870 $17K – $74K 80 0.01%
RI Providence – Fall River – Warwick $59,980 $43K – $89K 100 0.02%
SC Charleston – North Charleston – Summerville $42,950 $24K – $71K 120 0.04%
SC Columbia $43,480 $27K – $77K 70 0.02%
SC Greenville – Mauldin – Easley $35,550 $28K – $56K 120 0.04%
SD Sioux Falls $45,580 $32K – $80K 70 0.05%
TN Chattanooga $56,970 $33K – $73K 60 0.02%
TN Knoxville $30,000 $21K – $48K 60 0.02%
TN Memphis $48,970 $27K – $72K 160 0.03%
TN Nashville – Davidson – Murfreesboro – Franklin $39,530 $26K – $79K 350 0.05%
TX Amarillo $43,430 $33K – $67K 40 0.03%
TX Austin – Round Rock – San Marcos $44,310 $26K – $64K 300 0.04%
TX Dallas – Plano – Irving (Metro Area) $49,990 $31K – $75K 1,050 0.05%
TX Fort Worth – Arlington (Metro Area) $47,760 $27K – $80K 220 0.03%
TX Houston – Sugar Land – Baytown $50,360 $27K – $90K 940 0.04%
TX Lubbock $43,020 $38K – $64K 30 0.03%
TX McAllen – Edinburg – Mission $24,770 $16K – $30K N/A N/A
TX San Antonio – New Braunfels $40,230 $26K – $87K 180 0.02%
UT Salt Lake City N/A N/A – N/A 140 0.02%
VA Charlottesville $56,500 $23K – $93K 60 0.06%
VA Richmond $51,170 $23K – $93K 210 0.04%
VA Roanoke $38,780 $25K – $75K 60 0.04%
VA Virginia Beach – Norfolk – Newport News $42,530 $21K – $80K 140 0.02%
WA Seattle – Bellevue – Everett (Metro Area) $45,850 $29K – $79K 950 0.07%
WA Tacoma (Metro Area) $44,340 $30K – $88K 60 0.02%
WI Green Bay $34,290 $22K – $80K 90 0.06%
WI Madison $41,410 $26K – $68K 190 0.06%
WI Milwaukee – Waukesha – West Allis $42,740 $26K – $70K 320 0.04%

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