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Interior Design: Job and Career Information

Learn about what interior designers do. Find out the education and skill set needed, as well as the salary and job outlook to see if this is the right profession for you.

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Career Definition for an Interior Designer

Interior design professionals design indoor spaces that are safe and fully functional. Interior designers create design plans based on their client's needs for the space and are in charge of executing the plan once the client approves. There is a need for interior designers everywhere, but Texas, New York, and California have the highest employment levels, according to 2012 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics information.

Education Bachelor's degree, associate's degree, or certification from a design school
Job Skills Attention to detail, a creative personality, strong organizational skills, knowledge about computer aided drafting, and excellent communication skills
Median Salary (May 2015) $48,840 (Interior Designers)
Job Growth (2014-2024) 4% (Interior Designers)

Source: United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Required Education

A bachelor's degree is strongly advised for students looking to enter the interior design profession, but it is possible to find a job with certification from a design school or an associate degree from a community college. The associate degree or certification usually takes two to three years to obtain, and the bachelor degree usually takes four years. Some of the courses needed include computer aided drafting, lighting design, building construction, and interior architecture. In addition to a degree, 23 states plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico require interior designers to pass an exam before they can legally work.

Skills Needed

Interior designers need strong verbal, written, and visual communication skills to effectively express their ideas. Attention to detail, a creative personality, strong organizational skills, and knowledge about computer aided drafting are also required. Interior designers must be able to read building blueprints as well.

Career and Economic Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the median salary for an interior designer was $48,840 a year, based upon numbers published in May 2015. Yearly income varies based on the experience and skill level of the individual designer. About 25% of interior designers are self-employed. The BLS projected that employment growth within the field of interior design will be 4% between 2014 and 2024.

Alternate Career Options

Architect

Some students may enjoy their construction and architecture courses so much that they decide to pursue the field of architecture, instead, although a 5-year degree is normally required. While planning and designing buildings and other structures, architects earned an annual median salary of $76,100 in 2015. As fast as average employment growth of 7% was predicted by the BLS for architects from 2014-2024.

Industrial Designer

Instead of designing buildings, these professionals use art and engineering to design products like vehicles, appliances and toys. A bachelor's degree is usually required to enter this occupation, and it paid an annual median salary in 2015 of $67,130, per the BLS. A slower than average job growth of 2% was expected, from 2014-2024, by the BLS.

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