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What to Expect from a Career in Interior Design

What to Expect from a Career in Interior Design

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor


Median annual earnings for interior designers were $40,670 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $30,890 and $53,790. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $23,440, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $71,220. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of interior designers in May 2004 were as follows:

Architectural, engineering, and related services $44,740
Specialized design services $42,000
Furniture stores $37,750

Interior design salaries vary widely with the specialty, type of employer, number of years of experience, and reputation of the individuals. Among salaried interior designers, those in large specialized design and architectural firms tend to earn higher and more stable salaries. Interior designers working in retail stores usually earn a commission, which can be irregular.

For residential design projects, self-employed interior designers and those working in smaller firms usually earn a per-hour consulting fee, plus a percentage of the total cost of furniture, lighting, artwork, and other design elements. For commercial projects, they might charge a per-hour consulting fee, charge by the square footage, or charge a flat fee for the whole project. Also, designers who use specialty contractors usually earn a percentage of the contractor’s earnings on the project in return for hiring the contractor. Self-employed designers must provide their own benefits.

Related Occupations

Workers in other occupations who design or arrange objects to enhance their appearance and function include architects, except landscape and naval; artists and related workers; commercial and industrial designers; fashion designers; floral designers; graphic designers; and landscape architects.

Sources of Additional Information

Step Two: Research

Nine Steps to a Career in the Visual Arts

Discuss Interior Design

Find an Interior Design School

For information on degrees, continuing education, and licensure programs in interior design and interior design research, contact:

• American Society of Interior Designers, 608 Massachusetts Ave. N.E., Washington, DC 20002-6006. Internet:

For general information about art and design and a list of accredited college-level programs, contact:

National Association of Schools of Art and Design, 11250 Roger Bacon Dr., Suite 21, Reston, VA 20190-5248.

For information on State licensing requirements and exams, and the Interior Design Experience Program, contact:

National Council for Interior Design Qualification, 1200 18th St. NW., Suite 1001, Washington, DC 20036-2506.

For information on careers, continuing education, and certification programs in the interior design specialty of residential kitchen and bath design, contact: • National Kitchen and Bath Association, 687 Willow Grove St., Hackettstown, NJ 07840. Internet:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition, Interior designers, on the Internet at

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