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Interior Decorating Career Information, Duties and Salary Information

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an interior decorator. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

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Interior decorators assess a client's needs and decorate the interior of a home or business accordingly. No formal training or licensure is required to become an interior decorator. Here are the job requirements and duties as well as the salary and outlook information for this field.

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Essential Information

Interior decorators work with individuals and businesses to arrange and decorate stores, homes and offices using furniture, accessories, fixtures, color schemes and artwork. It's important to keep in mind that while interior decorators and interior designers are closely related, there are fundamental differences between the two. Interior decorators don't need any formal training or licensure, while the opposite is true for interior designers.

No formal training is needed to begin a career in interior decorating, though certificates and standalone courses are available. Degrees in interior design are offered nationwide at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels. The National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) offers certification or licensure, depending on the state, which typically requires six years of combined education, career experience and successful passing of an exam.

Required Education No formal training required for interior decorating; bachelor's degree required for interior design
Other Requirements No licensure required for interior decorating; licensure by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) for interior design
Projected Job Growth 4% from 2014-2024 for all interior designers**
Median Salary $38,668 annually for interior decorators (2016)*, $48,840 annually for interior designers (2015)**

Sources: *PayScale.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Duties

The first thing an interior decorator does when starting a new design job is meet with the client to determine style, budget and needs. The decorator then plans the space, often using a CAD program, and determines color palette, furniture options and interior layout. Additional considerations include structural changes and building codes. Once the design is approved, the decorator begins shopping for the furniture, window treatments and artwork. The decorator supervises the installation of the design and ensures the satisfaction of their client.

Interior decorators who work independently as small business owners or contractors may spend a significant amount of time fostering new clients and networking, reported the BLS. Other duties of a self-employed interior decorator include performing accounting duties, completing paperwork and hiring assistants.

Working for a design firm allows interior decorators to focus on working with clients and decorating, though entry-level decorators may work as assistant decorators. A decorating assistant performs tasks like reviewing decorating catalogs, ordering samples and carrying out the designer's vision. Interior decorators who work for furniture or gardening stores don't usually visit a client's home, and they typically work with only their employer's products.

Salary Information

Salaries for interior decorators vary greatly, depending on experience, employer and specialty. In January 2016, the median salary for interior decorators was approximately $38,668, according to PayScale.com. The highest earners made more than $107,877.

Interior decorators who are self-employed or work for small firms usually earn an hourly fee and a percentage of the total cost of furniture and accessories for the project. Commercial projects are sometimes charged by the square foot, while some interior decorators charge flat rates. Self-employed interior decorators must pay for their own insurance and other benefits.

Interior decorators must be familiar with color palettes, structural and building codes, as well as furniture, fixture and artwork options. They can work as self-employed small business owners or as part of a design firm. While a bachelor's degree is typically required for interior designers, there are no specific education or licensing requirements for interior decorators.

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