Interior Designers
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Overview
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Plan, design, and furnish the internal space of rooms or buildings. Design interior environments or create physical layouts that are practical, aesthetic, and conducive to the intended purposes. May specialize in a particular field, style, or phase of interior design.
Titles for this career often contain these words
DesignDesignerInteriorConsultantHomeDecoratorAssistantManagerLightingDirectorKitchenColorExpertDecoratingFurnitureArrangerAdviserHouseCoordinatorPrincipalProjectBathResidentialRoomShowroomExecutive
Education
About 66% of interior designers have at least a bachelor's degree.
Education attained by interior designers
None
High School
Some College
Associate's/Cert.
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
Doctorate
Context: workers with bachelor's degrees
More interior designers have bachelor's degrees than 77% of other careeers.
Employment
Workforce size
Interior designers, with 75,400 workers, are near the middle of all careers in the number employed.
Predicted employment growth
Over the next decade, jobs for interior designers are expected to grow by 4%, and should have about 8,000 job openings a year.
Safety from automation
Interior designers are less likely to be automated than 86% of other careers.
Salaries
Context: Median Salary
How do salaries for interior designers compare to other jobs' salaries?
Distribution: What salary can you expect?
See what most interior designers earn.
$56K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K
Gender
Women account for 80% of interior designers -- that's a larger percentage than 90% of other jobs.
Gender of interior designers
Men
Women
Context: Salary inequity
For each career, we compared the median (middle) men's salary to the median women's salary. For interior designers, the median men's salary was 16% more the median woman's salary.
Race/Origin
About 16% of interior designers are minority, and 14% are foreign-born.
Race/origin of interior designers
White
Black
Pacific Islander
Hispanic
Asian
American Indian
Multiracial
Other
Context: Foreign-born workers (14%)
Where are the most jobs?
We ranked the number of jobs in Interior Designers per thousand workers in each state, DC, and Puerto Rico. Blue indicates low density, with lighter shades moving to yellow indicating higher numbers working in this profession.
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Benefits
How do benefits for this career compare to other jobs?
Context: Employer offers health insurance
Context: Employer offers a pension plan
Context: workers are union members
Worker concerns
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of interior designers who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Time Pressure (96%)
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety (57%)
  • Frequency of Conflict Situations (38%)
  • Consequence of Error (33%)
SOURCES:
Salary and diversity
What do interior designers earn?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides company-reported job titles and corresonding salaries. This data excludes self-employed workers.
Distribution: Salaries for interior designers (BLS Salary Data)
$56K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
$56K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
The American Community Survey (ACS) asks individuals to report their occupation and salary, and as such includes self-employed workers.
Distribution: Salaries for interior designers (ACS Salary Data)
$48K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
$48K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Designers: Inflation-adjusted salary trend
This job's median $53KAll jobs' median $45K$50K$44K070809101112131415161718$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
A look at employers and corresponding salaries
The donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, giving us a picture of what employers most typically hire interior designers.
Employers of Interior Designers (ACS)
Private for-profit (71.2%)
Private not-for-profit (3.7%)
Local government (1.0%)
State government (1.0%)
Federal government (0.6%)
Self-employed incorporated (9.8%)
Self-employed not incorporated (12.4%)
Working without pay (0.4%)
Distribution: Salaries of interior designers by type of employer (ACS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type calculated by aggregating individual household survey responses.
$48K$50K$50K$41K$49K$47K$48K$0$50,000$100,000$150,000Self-employed not incorporatedSelf-employed incorporatedState governmentLocal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Distribution: Salaries of interior designers by type of employer (BLS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type as reported by BLS based on large employer-focused surveys. We note that smaller employer categories are not included by BLS.
$56K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000$100,000All

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Salary growth for interior designers

Is this a job that rewards experience, or is this job most likely a part of a career ladder? The higher a job's experience quotient, the more experience is rewarded with pay increases. Jobs in the green range have the best rewards with experience.

Take a minute to look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working at each age change. Does this seem to be a job for the young or the old, or could it be a career offering steady salary growth for many years?

Salary distribution
$50K$51K$57K$32K$52K$44K$52K$52K$50K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64
Number employed
02K4K6K8K10K12K20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Interior designers and gender

With 80% women, this occupation has a higher percentage of women than 90% of careers.

Context: Women in the workforce
80%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Gender of Interior designers
Men (20%)
Women (80%)
Distribution: Salaries by gender

The median salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 19%. The situation is a little better for interior designers, with the median salary for men 16% higher than the median salary for women.

$46K$54K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120KWomenMen
Context: Salary Inequity

The chart below shows the salary inequity, the percentage by which the median men's salary is higher than the median women's salary for all but about 20 jobs in which women typically earn more than men.

16%0%20%40%60%80%100%

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Race and origin of interior designers

Here we check out the diversity of origin in this career. There is a smaller percentage of minority interior designers than for 70% of other careers. The percentage of foreign-born workers in this career is near the middle of all careers.

Race/origin of interior designers
White (81% )
Asian (8% )
Black (5% )
Multiracial (3% )
Other (3% )
Hispanic (0% )
American Indian (0% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
16%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Context: Representation of foreign-born workers
14%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Distribution: Salaries for interior designers by race/origin

For some careers, there is a pay disparity depending on race or origin, though this is not prevalent. We calculate standard errors for all of our calculations, and when the error is high we do not show results. Therefore, for some jobs will have omitted race/origin categories.

$40K$41K$47K$47K$60K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120KOtherMultiracialBlackWhiteAsian
Distribution: Salaries for interior designers by nativity
$48K$48K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120KAll native citizensAll foreign-born

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Interior designers and Part-time/Full-time employment

We've found that somes jobs hava a huge number of part-time workers, and that typically most who are working part-time are doing so because they cannot find full-time work or the job they have cannot provide full-time hours. With 23% part-time workers, this occupation has a higher percentage of part-time workers than 74% of careers.

Context: Part-time workers in the workforce
23%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Why workers are part-time
Full-Time is less than 35 hours a week
Retired/Social Security limit on earnings
Could not find full-time work
Seasonal work
Slack work/business conditions
School/training
Health/medical limitations
Child care problems
Other family/personal obligations
Other reasons
Distribution: Salaries by part-time/full-time status

The salary distributions for full-time and part-time interior designers is shown following.

$15K$48K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100KPart-time workersFull-time workers
Pathways to this career
Education attained by interior designers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), interior designers typically hold a bachelor's degree.

Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as interior designers as reported in responses to the American Community Survey.

Details: Education and training recommended for interior designers

Interior designers entering the occupation usually need a bachelor’s degree in any field. Coursework should include classes in interior design, drawing, and computer-aided design (CAD).

Programs in interior design are available at the associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree levels. Applicants to these programs may need to submit sketches and other examples of their artistic ability.

The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits more than 360 postsecondary colleges, universities, and independent institutes that have programs in art and design. The Council for Interior Design Accreditation accredits about 180 professional-level (bachelor’s or master’s degree) interior design programs.

The National Kitchen & Bath Association accredits kitchen and bath design specialty programs (certificate, associate’s degree, and bachelor’s degree levels) in nearly 100 colleges and universities.

Details: Licensing and certification recommended for interior designers

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 with laws restricting the use of the title ”interior designer,” only candidates who pass their state-approved exam, most commonly the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam, may call themselves registered interior designers. Candidate eligibility for taking the NCIDQ exam includes having at least a bachelor’s degree in interior design and 2 years of full-time work experience.

California requires a different exam, administered by the California Council for Interior Design Certification (CCIDC). To take this exam, eligible candidates must have a combination of education and experience.

Voluntary certification in an interior design specialty, such as environmental 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 of the NCIDQ licensing examination.

Education attained by interior designers
None
High School
Some College
Associate's/Cert.
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
Doctorate
Distribution: Salary by education level

What level of education is truly needed for interior designers? Below we see the distribution of interior designers salaries based on the education attained.

$32K$40K$43K$51K$63K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120KHigh School (6%)Some College (15%)Associate's/Cert. (12%)Bachelor's Degree (56%)Master's Degree (8%)

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

College majors held by interior designers

This table shows the college majors held by people working as interior designers.

If you see "**" before the name of a degree/program, that means this field is one that the Department of Education believes is preparatory for this career. However, you can see from this list that those recommendations are far from your only path to this job!

Degree
Select any title to learn more about that degree
Percentage of Interior designers with this degree
Salary for all majors
Salary distribution (across jobs). Showing 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
Final education level of all people with this major
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate/Professional
Gender
Gender of people this bachelor's degree
Men
Women
The link between degrees and careers

With the following sankey diagram, you can follow the top ten bachelor's degrees held by people working as interior designers, and then, in turn, you can see the 10 occupations that hire the most of each degree's graduates. We hope this provides ideas for similar jobs and similar fields of study.

What college major is your best entry?

About 66% of people working as interior designers have at least a bachelor's degree. Each dot represents a college major leading to these jobs, with the dots to the right representing the majors sending the most of their grads into this career. The dots at the top are the majors who earn the most working in this career.

Darker colors have a larger percentage with graduate degreesOverall median salary0.0%5.0%10.0%15.0%20.0%25.0%30.0%35.0%40.0%Percentage with this major$30,000$40,000$50,000$60,000$70,000$80,000$90,000$100,000$110,000Median salary with this major
Switching Careers
The most common next careers for interior designers

What jobs will most interior designers hold next year?

The data in this chart comes from person interviews for the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The survey interviews households eight times over a two-year period, allowing us a glimpse into how people move from job to job. You can see more details from the results of the survey in our last tab in this section, and you can read about our methodology in our source descriptions.

Here we see all of the jobs that at least 1% of interior designers reported holding in their second year's survey. Is your future job on this list?

DesignersArtists and related workersFirst-Line Supervisors of Retail Sales WorkersDraftersArchitects, except navalRetail Salespersons
Lateral job transitions for interior designers

A lateral career transition is a move to a job with similar pay and responsibilities. A move to such a job can offer a change of pace without an increase in stress or a decrease in pay. The following table simply identifies all 6 jobs which were held by at least 1% of survey respondents before working as interior designers as well as 1% of respondents after working as interior designers. Select a row to investigate the job's full description and determine if it truly offers an opportunity for a lateral transition.

Prior and next careers for interior designers: full listings

What do people typically do before and after they work as interior designers? Here are the full lists of all jobs that at least 1% of interior designers surveyed reported as holding a year earlier or later.

Choose which type of transition to view
Prior jobs
Next jobs
Variation by state
State-by-state employment numbers

Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.

Job density versus job count

Which states hire the most interior designers? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as interior designers. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.

BLS vs ACS data

This map defaults to employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides job totals carefully compiled for accuracy and with a primary focus on how employers describe their workers. The BLS job totals do not count self-employed workers. We've also compiled totals using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) which are based on how workers describe themselves. Sometimes ACS results are quite a bit different from the employer-based BLS data.

Choose the metric to review
Jobs per 1000 working
Number of jobs
Use this data source
BLS
Number of Interior Designers per 1,000 workers (BLS)
Select a state to see local area details
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0.00.20.40.60.81.0
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where interior designers earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio

We use two methods to compare salaries across states:

  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for interior designers compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for interior designers.

We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.

BLS vs ACS data

We have two sources for statewide salary information with important distinctions. The BLS data is created by surveying companies, missing individuals who are self-employed or work for smaller companies. The ACS data is compiled from multi-faceted household surveys and may reflect the inconsistencies that people may have in reporting information.

Choose the metric to review
Location-adjusted median salary
Median salary
Use this data source
BLS
Location-adjusted median salary for Interior Designers (BLS)
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which interior designers earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this ratio might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
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$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K
Compare to similar jobs

If this job interests you, then use the tabs and education selector to find other careers that might be a good fit for you.

How should the career similarity be computed?

There are a number of ways to measure the similarity of jobs, here are a few we provide:

  • Interests: Also known as a Holland Code - Are you a thinker? A helper? What fits your personality?
  • Environment: Are there hazards? Will you be comfortable? Will it be stressful?
  • Knowledge: What do you need to know the most about?
  • Physical Abilities: Do you need to especially strong or coordinated?