An interior designer enhances the function, safety and aesthetics of interior spaces while taking into account how different colors, textures, furniture, lighting, and space work together to meet occupants' or visitors' needs. He or she works with both private and public spaces including residences, shopping malls, schools, offices, and hospitals.
There were 72,000 interior designers employed in 2008.
Training to become an interior designer takes two to four years and is available from professional design schools or colleges and universities. One can earn an associate degree or certificate by attending a two to three-year program, or a bachelor's degree by attending a four-year program. Upon graduating with a bachelor's degree, one would most likely begin a one to three-year apprenticeship program at a design or architecture firm and work under the supervision of an experienced interior designer. A graduate with a certificate or associate degree would usually start his or her career as an assistant to an interior designer.
Many states require interior designers to be registered, certified or licensed. The National Council for Interior Design Qualification administers a written exam that is required by these states. In order to sit for the exam, one needs six years of combined education—at least two years of postsecondary education—and experience. Continuing education is often required to maintain one's license, certification or registration.
One to three years of on-the-job training allows interior designers to advance to supervisory positions including chief designer or design department head. These positions are usually available in larger firms. Some experienced interior designers specialize in one aspect of design or open their own design firms.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that interior design will grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2018 but there will be a lot of competition for jobs. While there are a lot of people who want to work in this field, those who have significant formal training and are creative and persistent will fare best.
In 2009 interior designers in the United States earned a median annual salary of $46,180.
Use the Salary Wizard at Salary.com to find out how much an Interior Designer currently earns in your city.
A Day in an Interior Designer's Life
On a typical design project an interior designer's tasks include:
- meeting with a client to find out what he or she wants and needs, how space will be used and what his or her budget is
- coming up with a design plan, usually using computer-aided-design (CAD), and a budget estimate
- presenting the design plan and budget to the client and then revising the design plan according to the client's input
- upon finalizing the design plan, specifying materials, finishes, lighting, and flooring
- if required by the municipality and scope of the project, submitting drawings to a building inspector to make sure it meets building codes
- hiring architects to do structural work, if necessary, and other contractors to handle technical work
- setting a timeline for the project
- supervising the project to make sure it is done correctly and according to the timeline
- following up with the client upon the project's completion to make sure he or she is satisfied, and if not, making any necessary corrections
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Interior Designer.
Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET Online, Interior Designer.