Interior Designers picture    Interior Designers image

Interior designers are responsible for planning and designing the optimal arrangement of colors, textures, lighting, furniture, and space so as to enhance the function, safety, and aesthetics of interior spaces. The interior spaces that designers work on include not only private residences but in fact almost every type of building (e.g., offices, theaters, shopping malls, airport terminals, hotels, restaurants, schools, and hospitals). The traditional focus of an interior designer is decoration (in fact sometimes designers are referred to as Interior Decorators), meaning the choice of a style and color palette followed by the selection of complementary furniture, floor and window coverings, lighting, and accessories. However, the job description has expanded in recent years as more designers have become involved in architectural detailing (e.g., crown molding and built-in bookshelves) and in larger-scale layout planning of buildings undergoing renovation (e.g., locations of windows, stairways, escalators, and walkways).

Many interior designers specialize in a particular discipline or niche design area such as hospitality, health care, or institutional design. These specialty areas are continually evolving and tend to be limited only by the imagination. Awareness of non-traditional factors such as health and accessibility issues is becoming increasingly important in the profession as the ability of interior spaces to create positive changes in people's lives is becoming more widely recognized. The role of an interior designer in today's world involves the ability to read blueprints, understand building and fire codes, and know how to make space accessible to people who are disabled. Designers often collaborate with architects, electricians, and building contractors to optimize safety and ensure that construction requirements are met.


The work process followed by an interior designer is generally the same regardless of the type of space being worked on. The first step is to determine the client's needs and wishes by meeting with the client to find out how the space will be used and to get a feel for the client's preferences and budget. The designer will also visit the location in order to scope the layout, size up potential problems, and take inventory of existing furniture and equipment. As a second step in the process, the designer will formulate an initial design plan and estimate costs. This is often done nowadays with the use of computer-aided design (CAD) software, which provides more detail and precision than hand-sketches (and in addition is easier to make corrections to). After the initial design proposal is completed, the designer will present it to the client and make revisions based on the client's input.

Once the design concept is finalized, the designer will begin identifying the specific materials and furnishings required (e.g., furniture, lighting, flooring, wall coverings, and artwork). Depending on the type of structure and complexity of the project, the designer might also submit drawings for approval by a building inspector to ensure that the design meets local codes. If a project involves a structural component, the designer will interface with an architect or engineer to cover that part of the project. In many cases, the designer is also responsible for contracting out the technical work that needs to get done (e.g., lighting, plumbing, and electrical wiring). As a final step before work begins, the designer will develop a timeline for the project. Working from that timeline, the designer will oversee the installation of the design elements, coordinate the contractor work schedules, and make sure the work is completed on time. After the project is complete, the designer and client will jointly visit the building site to ensure client satisfaction. The designer will subsequently make any corrections needed.

Job Characteristics

Working conditions for interior designers vary widely and depend quite a bit on the circumstances of employment. Designers who are self-employed or work for small consulting firms tend to have erratic and variable work weeks, quite often meeting with clients during evening or weekends when necessary. Their workloads are sporadic and depend on how busy they happen to be at a given time, and they tend to work in relatively small and somewhat congested environments. On the other hand, designers employed by large corporations or design firms generally work more normal hours in relatively comfortable settings.

Traditionally, interior designers tend to do a relatively large amount of traveling to visit different locations, studios, or clients' homes and offices. Although this is still true, modern technology now allows designers to save time by conducting a significant amount of research and purchasing online. This same technology has also simplified the process of contacting clients and communicating design alternatives to them, resulting in a smaller amount of travel needing to be done than before. There can be a great deal of satisfaction derived from interior design work. The designer is able to see the fruits of his/her artistic expression and the culmination of his/her creative ideas and careful planning translate into a beautiful finished product. On the other hand, there is also a notable amount of stress generally associated with the profession. The need to meet deadlines, stay on budget, and please clients, and (for those who are self-employed) to continually seek out new clients can contribute to the stress.

In order to be a good interior designer, an individual should be creative, imaginative, open to new ideas and influences, and quick to react to changing trends. Communication is very important and a good designer must be able to communicate his/her ideas not only verbally but also visually and in writing. Designers who understand the basics of architecture and engineering and are familiar with computer-aided design software have a definite advantage in the job marketplace. And as in many professions, the ability to budget one's time, to meet deadlines and production schedules, and to work independently and under pressure are additional important traits.

Employment Outlook

The field is an expanding one and correspondingly, future employment growth is expected to be faster than that of the average profession. However, this job growth is balanced by am equivalent growth in competition for available positions because of the fact that many talented individuals tend to be attracted to this profession.

An increase in homeowner wealth, combined with a growing popularity of home improvement, is expected to result in an increase in demand for residential designers over the upcoming decade. Most homeowners who have been using the equity in their homes to remodel aging kitchens and bathrooms and to finance new additions seek out the assistance and support of interior designers to make these improvements happen. However, a bi-product of the home improvement trend has been a trend in do-it-yourself design, which could serve to counterbalance employment growth of designers. On the non-residential side, a high demand from the hospitality industry (e.g., hotels, resorts, and restaurants) is expected to match an expected increase in tourism. Similarly, demand for interior design services from the health care industry also is expected to be high to satisfy an anticipated demand to create comfortable and homelike facilities to accommodate an aging population.

On the negative side, interior designers are expected to face keen competition for available positions due to intense competition in the field. Those who lack formal training or come up short in creativity and perseverance could find it difficult to establish and maintain a successful career. Also, the design industry can find itself at the mercy of a fickle economy. Design services are generally considered a luxury expense and as such may be among the first casualties of a slow economy, which in turn can have a detrimental effect on employment of interior designers.

Interior Design Schools, Certification, and Licensing

Entry into the interior design profession usually requires graduation from an accredited college, university or professional school of interior design. Depending on the school and degree being pursued, training programs can take anywhere between two to four years to complete. Ideally, a bachelor's degree should be pursued by those seeking entry-level positions but at minimum candidates should strive for a certificate or associate's degree. Those who hold a bachelor's degree usually qualify for a formal design apprenticeship program.

There are over 200 institutions offering programs which are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. The National Council for Interior Design Accreditation also accredits over 140 bachelor's degree programs in interior design, many of which are offered from the school's department of art, architecture, or home economics. After formal training is completed, interior designers will typically enter a 1- to 3-year apprenticeship to gain experience before taking a licensing exam. In most cases, apprentices will work in a design or architecture firm under the tutelage of an experienced designer or as an in-store designer in a furniture store.

Many states in the U.S. (about half of them) require registration and/or licensure of interior designers. The National Council of Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) administers a licensing exam which requires applicants to have at least six years of combined education and experience in interior design, of which at least two of those years must consist of formal postsecondary education. Once a candidate passes the qualifying exam, he/she achieves the title of Certified, Registered, or Licensed Interior Designer. In some states, licensure must be periodically renewed by earning continuing education credits.

Designers can demonstrate their qualifications and professional standing by choosing to apply for membership in the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). Membership requirements include a combination of training and experience, along with the passing of the NCIDQ examination. Optional certifications are available in certain specialties of the profession. The National Kitchen and Bath Association offers three different levels of certification for kitchen and bath designers, each achieved through training seminars and certification exams. Designers who possess environmental expertise in design solutions for sustainable construction can receive accreditation in this specialty area by taking the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) examination.


Major Employers

Approximately one of every four interior designers is self-employed. Many perform freelance work while at the same time holding a salaried job in interior design or in a completely different occupation. Some of the principal employers of interior designers include furniture and home-furnishing stores, building material and supplies dealers, residential building construction companies, and architectural services for both construction and landscaping.

Schools for Interior Designers are listed in the column to the left.

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for:
Interior Designers

Listed below are metro areas sorted by the total number of people employed in Interior Designers jobs , as of 2015

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Metro Area (Alabama) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Hoover 150 N/A
Birmingham 150 N/A
Huntsville 60 N/A
Metro Area (Alaska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anchorage 40 $47,340
Metro Area (Arizona) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Scottsdale 760 $48,240
Mesa 760 $48,240
Phoenix 760 $48,240
Tucson 120 $29,290
Metro Area (Arkansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Conway 120 $36,370
North Little Rock 120 $36,370
Little Rock 120 $36,370
Metro Area (California) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Long Beach 3190 $56,440
Los Angeles 3190 $56,440
Anaheim 3190 $56,440
San Francisco 1210 $61,450
Hayward 1210 $61,450
Oakland 1210 $61,450
San Diego 880 $44,760
Carlsbad 880 $44,760
Riverside 400 $46,480
San Bernardino 400 $46,480
Ontario 400 $46,480
Roseville 260 $52,520
Arcade 260 $52,520
Arden 260 $52,520
Sacramento 260 $52,520
San Jose 250 $63,460
Sunnyvale 250 $63,460
Santa Clara 250 $63,460
Fresno 80 $38,090
Ventura 70 $80,430
Thousand Oaks 70 $80,430
Oxnard 70 $80,430
Modesto 60 $52,990
Santa Rosa 60 $64,790
Salinas 30 $54,450
Santa Barbara N/A $59,140
Santa Maria N/A $59,140
Metro Area (Colorado) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Aurora 1100 $47,000
Lakewood 1100 $47,000
Denver 1100 $47,000
Colorado Springs 170 $36,160
Fort Collins 60 $47,440
Boulder N/A $48,780
Metro Area (Connecticut) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Stamford 330 N/A
Norwalk 330 N/A
Bridgeport 330 N/A
Hartford 170 $52,640
West Hartford 170 $52,640
East Hartford 170 $52,640
Danbury 50 $43,650
Waterbury N/A $44,500
Metro Area (Florida) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fort Lauderdale 1980 $45,000
Miami 1980 $45,000
West Palm Beach 1980 $45,000
Kissimmee 600 $38,020
Sanford 600 $38,020
Orlando 600 $38,020
Tampa 480 $41,860
Clearwater 480 $41,860
St. Petersburg 480 $41,860
Jacksonville 380 $40,160
Fort Myers 240 $31,430
Cape Coral 240 $31,430
Marco Island 200 $52,830
Naples 200 $52,830
Immokalee 200 $52,830
North Port 120 $35,180
Bradenton 120 $35,180
Sarasota 120 $35,180
Fort Walton Beach 90 $42,820
Crestview 90 $42,820
Destin 90 $42,820
Tallahassee 60 $34,260
Lakeland 60 $44,210
Winter Haven 60 $44,210
Ocala 40 $28,430
Brent 40 $37,510
Pensacola 40 $37,510
Ferry Pass 40 $37,510
Palm Bay 40 $43,290
Melbourne 40 $43,290
Titusville 40 $43,290
Port St. Lucie N/A $32,440
Sebastian N/A $44,710
Vero Beach N/A $44,710
Metro Area (Georgia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Roswell 1300 $50,310
Sandy Springs 1300 $50,310
Atlanta 1300 $50,310
Savannah 50 $45,130
Metro Area (Hawaii) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Urban Honolulu 90 $47,870
Metro Area (Idaho) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Boise City 90 $36,520
Metro Area (Illinois) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Peoria 30 $48,000
Metro Area (Indiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Carmel 350 $44,660
Anderson 350 $44,660
Indianapolis 350 $44,660
Fort Wayne 80 $43,970
Goshen 50 N/A
Elkhart 50 N/A
West Lafayette N/A $18,340
Lafayette N/A $18,340
Metro Area (Iowa) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Des Moines 150 $39,060
Des Moines 150 $39,060
Metro Area (Kansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Wichita 80 $38,470
Metro Area (Kentucky) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fayette 90 $53,020
Lexington 90 $53,020
Metro Area (Louisiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Metairie 210 $44,350
New Orleans 210 $44,350
Baton Rouge 180 $39,770
Lafayette N/A $40,830
Metro Area (Maine) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
South Portland N/A $43,160
Portland N/A $43,160
Metro Area (Maryland) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Towson 750 $51,840
Columbia 750 $51,840
Baltimore 750 $51,840
Metro Area (Michigan) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dearborn 570 $39,260
Detroit 570 $39,260
Warren 570 $39,260
Wyoming 290 $36,320
Grand Rapids 290 $36,320
Ann Arbor 80 $50,550
Portage 50 $36,570
Kalamazoo 50 $36,570
Benton Harbor 30 $38,140
Niles 30 $38,140
Metro Area (Minnesota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
St. Cloud 50 $37,180
Metro Area (Mississippi) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Jackson 110 $27,210
Metro Area (Missouri) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Springfield 100 $36,480
Columbia 40 $43,490
Metro Area (Nebraska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lincoln 70 $37,510
Metro Area (Nevada) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Paradise 360 $48,220
Henderson 360 $48,220
Las Vegas 360 $48,220
Reno N/A $49,680
Metro Area (New Jersey) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Trenton 30 $51,200
Metro Area (New Mexico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Albuquerque 70 $50,350
Santa Fe 40 $42,600
Metro Area (New York) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Rochester 130 $40,040
Niagara Falls 120 $36,990
Buffalo 120 $36,990
Cheektowaga 120 $36,990
Schenectady 50 $50,780
Albany 50 $50,780
Troy 50 $50,780
Syracuse 40 $47,710
Binghamton N/A $47,450
Metro Area (North Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
High Point 150 $38,080
Greensboro 150 $38,080
Raleigh 150 $45,720
Winston 70 $53,250
Salem 70 $53,250
Wilmington 60 $22,090
Chapel Hill 50 $62,980
Durham 50 $62,980
Morganton 30 $40,220
Hickory 30 $40,220
Lenoir 30 $40,220
Asheville N/A $44,980
Metro Area (North Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bismarck 40 $39,350
Metro Area (Ohio) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Columbus 580 $41,100
Elyria 270 $43,130
Cleveland 270 $43,130
Akron 120 $45,030
Dayton 70 $50,280
Toledo 70 $52,960
Metro Area (Oklahoma) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Tulsa 190 $39,660
Oklahoma City 180 $37,640
Metro Area (Oregon) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Eugene 80 $35,080
Metro Area (Pennsylvania) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pittsburgh 360 $33,590
Lancaster 100 $47,820
Barre 90 $34,460
Hazleton 90 $34,460
Wilkes 90 $34,460
Scranton 90 $34,460
Harrisburg 30 $46,170
Carlisle 30 $46,170
Metro Area (Puerto Rico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Caguas 30 $30,150
Carolina 30 $30,150
San Juan 30 $30,150
Metro Area (South Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Charleston 70 $35,640
North Charleston 70 $35,640
Columbia 50 $36,640
Greenville N/A $39,240
Mauldin N/A $39,240
Anderson N/A $39,240
Bluffton N/A $41,200
Hilton Head Island N/A $41,200
Beaufort N/A $41,200
Metro Area (South Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Sioux Falls 100 $49,590
Metro Area (Tennessee) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Franklin 370 $40,710
Murfreesboro 370 $40,710
Davidson 370 $40,710
Nashville 370 $40,710
Knoxville 110 $34,370
Metro Area (Texas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fort Worth 2170 $55,990
Arlington 2170 $55,990
Dallas 2170 $55,990
Sugar Land 1240 $66,120
The Woodlands 1240 $66,120
Houston 1240 $66,120
Round Rock 530 $48,620
Austin 530 $48,620
New Braunfels 380 $63,070
San Antonio 380 $63,070
El Paso 60 $43,450
Midland 40 $52,370
Port Arthur 30 $56,790
Beaumont 30 $56,790
Metro Area (Utah) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salt Lake City 290 N/A
Clearfield 90 $49,840
Ogden 90 $49,840
Provo N/A $54,530
Orem N/A $54,530
Metro Area (Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Richmond 200 $45,900
Roanoke 60 $50,750
Charlottesville N/A $38,800
Metro Area (Washington) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Seattle 1320 $53,830
Bellevue 1320 $53,830
Tacoma 1320 $53,830
Spokane Valley 80 $39,580
Spokane 80 $39,580
Metro Area (West Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Charleston 40 $36,600
Metro Area (Wisconsin) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Waukesha 310 $45,980
West Allis 310 $45,980
Milwaukee 310 $45,980
Madison 150 $39,550
Green Bay 100 $40,410
Appleton N/A $35,560

Most Popular Industries for :
Interior Designers

Industries representing at least 1% of total jobs for the occupation.

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Industry Jobs Percent Annual Median Salary
Professional And Technical Services 32,470 61% $46,710
Furniture Stores 6,840 12% $39,450
Construction 3,080 5% N/A
Hardware And Garden Stores 2,670 5% $39,970
Durable Goods Wholesale 2,460 4% $45,020
Furniture 1,040 1% $43,750
Business Management 900 1% $53,320
Construction Trades 560 1% N/A
These schools offer particularly quick info upon request, and we have written detailed profiles for each (click school names to see the profiles). Request info from multiple schools, by clicking the Request Info links.
Results:  8
Matching School Ads
  • Interior Design (BS)
  • With an education from an Art Institutes school, imagine what you could create.
camnpus icon
San Francisco
Visit School Site
  • Music Production, Bachelors of Science (Online)
  • Audio Production Bachelors (Online)
  • Push Your Creativity To The Next Level
  • Graphic Arts (AAS)
  • Graphic Arts (BS)
  • Graphic Arts - Information Design (BS)
  • The Secret to Getting Ahead is Getting Started

camnpus icon
National City
Request Info
  • Associate of Science, Film
  • Get the career of your dreams with an education from the Los Angeles Film School.
camnpus icon
Los Angeles
Request Info
  • Graphic Arts (AAS)
  • Graphic Arts (BS)
  • Congratulations! Your interest in Independence University is an important first step toward changing your life. A career-focused degree is the key to a career with a potentially higher income, better benefits, and more satisfaction.

  • ABCO Technology is an accredited computer training academy that offers diploma programs for individual students, professionals and companies to learn different areas of Information technology and seek gainful employment.

camnpus icon
Los Angeles
Request Info
  • Photography
  • Earn Your Diploma from Home!
  • Master of Science in Marketing - Digital Marketing and Advertising
  • Liberty University provides a world-class education with a solid Christian foundation, equipping men and women with the values, knowledge, and skills essential for success in every aspect of life.

CityTownInfo Career and College Resources

We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Interior Designers.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

Back to Top