Interior designers develop and create interior spaces that are functional, beautiful, efficient – and often under a tight budget. A wide variety of clients are in need of interior designers from private residences to corporate offices and everything in between. The diversity of this field means there are solid career opportunities for talented, aspiring designers. Interested candidates should consider whether they want to work for government agencies or world-class resorts. Is it more about the income or the freedom to flex those art muscles?

Job Growth for Interior Designers

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that the field of interior design will grow 19% by 2020, which is about average. The median salary is $46,280 or $22.25 per hour. However, interior designers can make substantially less or more than this median salary due to the wide range of employers and variety of freelancers. As of 2010, there were 56,500 interior designers in the US. Considering many businesses and individuals need the expertise of designers, there is plenty of room in the market for budding interior design experts.

Education Requirements for Interior Designers

The BLS lists a bachelor’s degree as a requirement, but that is up to the employer. Some employers of interior designers, such as government agencies or hospitals, will likely require a degree in Architecture or Interior Design. Smaller companies might prefer experience over academic achievement. However, holding a degree in a related field can only help a person succeed. It’s a great foundation of knowledge, gives candidates an edge over the competition, and can qualify someone for certification through the Certified Interior Decorators International (CID) organization.

Work Environment for Interior Designers

An interior designer’s time is usually split between an office, the job site, and a variety of stores shopping for the perfect piece of furniture or wallpaper. Since this field is such a diverse one, there is no traditional work environment. A designer’s specialty can help determine where most of his or her time is spent. Designers who work for private residences are often meeting with clients in different homes. Those in the hospitality industry spend quite a bit of time at restaurants, nightclubs, or casinos. The type of work environment preferred should be a key indicator when choosing a specialty.

Design Specialties There are dozens of specialties, but some of the most popular career paths are perpetual favorites of students. Corporate interior design is a specialty where professionals work with big businesses and corporations to design attractive, ergonomic, and functional work spaces. Green interior design requires designers to create interiors that are sustainable and environmentally friendly. Japanese/Asian interior design ebbs and flows in popularity and requires a designer to bring authentic east Asian-inspired designs into a space. Restaurant interior design calls for a designer who is knowledgeable of the culinary and hospitality industry as well as state and federal laws. There are a multitude of other specialties that can also be considered as viable career paths for interior designers.

Personality Traits of Interior Designers

An interior designer is often a natural artist with an innate knack for finding and creating beauty. However, this is also a communication-heavy field that requires the ability to work with multiple types of people. Those who succeed are outgoing, personable, and (depending on the field) well-versed in laws and regulations. Interior designers need to be able to infer what clients want and be able to complete projects on time. Leadership, time management skills, and multi-tasking are all necessary in this field.

Being an interior designer might seem glamorous, and there is certainly a generous peppering of those moments for some designers working for high-profile clients. It is also carries great responsibility and a lot of work. Individuals pursuing this career path need to carefully select their academic route if they are choosing to get a degree or certification. Experience and on the job training can also boost a career. It is smart to intern for an interior designer to see if this hectic, but fulfilling, career is the right choice.