How to Become an

Interior Designer

The complete career guide to be an Interior Designer: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $55,510
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 3.7%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Creativity Focused
    Career Attribute

Interior designer plan the colors, fixtures, and designs of homes, buildings, and office spaces. They may consult on design decisions for new structures and spaces, or they may consult for remodels and redecorations. Most specialize in decorating specific spaces, such as offices, homes, or medical facilities.

Recommended Schools

What is an Interior Designer?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in interior designer roles:

  • Choose paint colors, flooring types, and flooring styles for spaces to present a desired effect
  • Select fixtures such as fans, lighting, faucets, light switches, and electrical outlet covers that match selected designs and decorations
  • Utilize computer-aided design software to plan designs and show designs to clients for approval before implementation
  • Market services to find new clients, and place bids on open projects to secure new work
  • Estimate costs of design materials and decorations, and monitor progress to ensure plans are implemented correctly

A Day in the Life

Interior designers are experts in designing and decorating homes, buildings, and office spaces in a way that creates a desired effect. By combining specific paint colors, flooring types, and fixture selections, interior designers can transform a bland space into something much more. With the right design skills, an interior designer can create doctor’s office waiting rooms that comfort patients, business office spaces that encourage teamwork and collaboration, and homes that sell quickly.

In general, interior designers specialize in decorating specific types of spaces. They may specialize in decorating business offices, medical centers, retail shops, new homes, remodeled homes, restaurants, and many more. By understanding the psychology behind different colors and design choices, they can choose decorations and design elements that create the atmosphere a client desires. They often work with architects and builders at the beginning of a project, adding their recommendations to blueprints.

Most interior designers use specialized computer-aided design (CAD) software to test designs and show designs to clients before purchasing materials or making final decisions. CAD software can be used to illustrate exactly what a space will look like with certain color choices and decorations. Once the interior designer has received approval to move forward, he/she monitors progress to ensure that designs are followed correctly and that all designs and decorations look as imagined once they’re completed.

Typical Work Schedule

Most interior designers work in offices following 40 a regular 40-hour per week schedule. You may need however to work for longer hours to fulfill the deadlines and requirements of the clients which may include working on evenings and weekends when necessary. Additionally, you must dedicate part of your schedule to learn new skills and stay updated regarding the new technologies introduced to the field. You will also need to attend different conferences and galleries to remain knowledgeable regarding the new design trends.

Projected job growth

There are currently around 68,000 interior designers working in the US in more than 12,000 companies. However, the number is expected to decrease in the coming years. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of interior designers is expected to decrease by 5 % from 2019 to 2029 which indicates increasing challenge to find a job vacancy in the field.  Despite the expected demand with new construction projects, the opportunities for self-employed interior designers to renovate existing homes, commercial buildings, and other construction projects, are expected to be limited in the coming years. In addition, better job opportunities are expected to exist in high-income areas due to the fact that wealthier clients will be more inclined to remodeling and renovating their spaces. To ensure the best prospects in this profession in the next decade, you have to keep up with the latest design tools such as three-dimensional computer-aided design (CAD) software as well as the latest trends in interior designs and other related issues.

Typical Employers

Interior designers can work for different employers. They can work for specialized design firms where they can work for individual clients and also may be contracted by architectural and engineering companies. The biggest design firms in the US include CallisonRTKL, Rockwell Group, Champalimaud Design and Hartman Design Group. Designers may also work in furniture factories and stores where they can provide modern designs for the customers. Another field to consider is working in the field of wholesale trade. Some interior designers prefer to be self-employed managing their own projects however working privately is expected to be more competitive in the coming years which requires building your network of clients and connections.

Recommended Schools

How To Become an Interior Designer

The requirements for working as an interior designer—as well as using the title interior designer—vary significantly by state. In some states, use of the title interior designer and practicing in the field requires licensing. In other states, no licensing is required. For this reason, it’s important to review the laws and regulations pertaining to interior design for the state you hope to practice in before beginning your journey towards the career, as well as those of any neighboring states where you might have clients.

For states with the strictest regulations on licensing interior designers, a bachelor’s degree is required. While majoring in interior design is ideal, other art- and design-related degrees may be sufficient as well. However, regardless of your major, you’ll want to make sure that you take courses that allow you to learn how to use computer-aided design software—experience with CAD software will be a requirement for most jobs. Additionally, you’ll want to begin building a portfolio of design work.

Next, you’ll need to find an internship, entry-level position, or apprenticeship role in the field of interior design. To qualify to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification exam that’s required to earn an interior design license, you’ll need to have both a bachelor’s degree and two years of experience in the field. With the right education and experience, and having passed the licensing exam, you can begin your career as an independent interior designer and begin sharing your expertise with clients.

Interior Designer Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

Low Range




High Range


How do Interior Designer salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Interior Designer's can make an average annual salary of $55,510, or $27 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $35,600 or $17 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #318 Nationally for All Careers

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming an Interior Designer. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Interior Designers

  • 1.4%   Doctorate
  • 8.7%   Masters
  • 47.4%   Bachelors
  • 12.7%   Associates
  • 17.6%   College
  • 9.8%   High School
  • 2.3%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Interior Designer job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 2,200 jobs for a total of 61,100 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 3.7% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #491 Nationally for All Careers

What Companies Employ The Most Interior Designers

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Specialized design services 17,700 1,600 2%
Self-employed workers 13,400 400 0%
Furniture stores 4,600 -800 -1%

Want To Be an Interior Designer? Get Started!

Generate your free SmartPlan™ to identify colleges you like, and potential ways to save on a degree or certification program toward your career with courses, offers, and much more!

Enroll Now and Get Started

or Learn More →