Advancement Opportunities for Interior Designers

Aug 15, 2018

Interior designers work to create functional and aesthetically pleasing indoor spaces. After working in this field, they may wish to advance their career in design by specializing in an area such as set design, exhibit design, or industrial design; or by managing others as a design director.

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Career Growth Opportunities for Interior Designers

Interior designers are responsible for creating the appearance, safety, and accessibility of indoor spaces. They must work closely with architects and clients to ensure that spaces meet all required needs. After gaining experience as an interior designer, some may wish to expand their career options by pursuing a specialized area of interior design, such as set designer or exhibit design. They might also consider designing consumer objects as an industrial designer, or managing others as a design director. Some information on these careers is presented below.

Job Title Median Salary Job Growth (2016-2026)* Education or Experience
Set Designer $49,266 (2018)** 10% (set and exhibit designers) Bachelor's degree at minimum; many have master's degrees
Exhibit Designer $59,347 (2018)*** 10% (set and exhibit designers) Bachelor's degree at minimum; many have master's degrees
Industrial Designer $65,920 (2017)* 4% Bachelor's degree and portfolio
Design Director, Interior Design $93,067 (2018)** 4% (interior designers) Bachelor's degree and experience

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **, ***

Career Information

Set Designer

Some interior designers may wish to focus upon work in the entertainment industry, and these professionals may consider work as set designers. Set designers read scripts in order to fully understand a story, and then they create scenery and props for a wide range of productions, including plays and movies. Set designers must ensure the accuracy of scenes set in different places or eras. They must collaborate with costumers, lighting designers, directors and producers to ensure that they are visually representing the story that will be told. A minimum of a bachelor's degree and experience in productions is expected for these positions; however, many set designers hold a master's degree in a field such as set design or stage/film design.

Exhibit Designer

Interior designers who wish to design spaces for educational and entertainment purposes may consider work as exhibit designers. Exhibit designers arrange spaces at sites such as museums, art galleries, trade shows, and pop-ups. Exhibit designers must consider both the appearance of the space they design and the experience of the users of the space. Collaboration with artists, museum personnel, and business professionals is required. A minimum of a bachelor's degree and experience in exhibit design is required. Master's degrees are also common in this field.

Industrial Designer

Interior designers must have an excellent sense of the visual appeal of a proposed design. These skills could be utilized by advancing to a role as an industrial designer. Industrial designers are responsible for the design of consumer products, including medical products, housewares, and toys. They may use computer-aided design technology, or they may draw and design products by hand. Industrial designers must consult with market researchers and engineers to ensure that the products designed are feasible to produce and will be well-received by the public. Industrial designers typically hold a bachelor's degree and have a portfolio of applicable work.

Design Director, Interior Design

Some interior designers may seek to advance their career through a supervisory role. These designers could consider a position as a design director of interior design. Design directors review the submissions of junior interior designers to make design choices. They are responsible for ensuring that design projects stay within budget, on time, and maintain all applicable safety standards. Design directors must hold a minimum of a bachelor's degree and have extensive experience in interior design. Master's degree programs in fields like design management are an additional option.

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