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Interior Designer Salary

The main difference between an interior designer and an interior decorator is that a designer is required to possess a broader range of skills than an interior decorator does. As a result, an Interior Designer has more earnings potential than an interior decorator. While a decorator may focus purely on the aesthetics, an interior designer works to improve the function and safety of a space. A career in design thus entails a combination of engineering and art. A designer must sometimes be able to start work on a space before it is even built, which requires looking at the blueprints, getting a feel for the space, and creating proposals for its interior design based on the knowledge collected.

Because of the specific qualifications, abilities, and credentials an interior designer must have, their starting salary will typically range from $22,000 to $40,000. An interior designer salary can vary significantly depending on specialization (commercial or residential design, for example), type of employer (design firm, architectural firm, or retail store), experience, and reputation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual earnings for U.S. interior designers were more than $40,000 in 2004. Those designers specializing in work for architectural or engineering services firms had the highest average salary, followed closely by design services and those working as in-house designers for retail furniture stores.

Experienced interior designers have the opportunity to earn more than six figures a year. Many designers begin their career with a design or architectural firm and then branch off on their own when they have an established portfolio and client base. Self-employed interior designers usually charge a per-hour consulting fee or a flat project fee. Earnings for independent designers can vary greatly, but a 2005 survey by Coroflot showed the average earnings for self-employed interior designers to be about $51,000, with some interior designers reporting earnings as high as $100,000.

Interior designers can also enhance their earnings potential by getting nationally licensed through the National Council for Interior Design Qualifications (NCIDQ). National certification is in fact mandatory in some states, but not all. Registering with a professional association, such as the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), is another way for an interior designer to boost his or her reputation as well as potential earnings.

A great way to increase your earning potential as an interior designer is to keep your skills up to date. There are many schools around the country that offer interior design programs, providing you the opportunity to learn the latest interior design techniques. See our list of recommended schools below and request information today!

Dezignaré Interior Design Collective
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Schools to consider: