Difference Between Architect & Interior Designer

Architects and interior designers rely on some of the same skills to develop their design plans, but they use their skills to perform different design functions. Explore these careers further in this article.

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Comparing an Architect to an Interior Designer

Architects and interior designers are professionals who develop design plans. The primary difference between them centers on what they design. Architects design buildings, while interior designers use furniture, fixtures and other accessories to create a desired look and function for spaces inside a building.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary* (2016) Job Outlook* (2014-2024)
Architect Bachelor's Degree $76,930 7%
Interior Designer Bachelor's Degree $49,810 4%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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  • Architectural History
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  • Environmental Design
  • Interior Architecture
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  • Urban and Regional Planning

Responsibilities of an Architect vs. an Interior Designer

Architects are responsible for the structure and façade of a building. They determine how it will look and where vital building systems will be located. Interior designers bring things into a space to make it functional or appealing. They choose things like furniture and arrange the materials that are used to design rooms. Architects and interior designers both need to be familiar with building codes, their client's needs and the project budget.

Architect

After earning a bachelor's degree in architecture, it's necessary to complete an internship and pass a national exam to be an architect. Architects develop design plans for various types of spaces and buildings. They typically work for architectural or engineering firms, and they primarily work in an office environment, but they do need to travel to the building sites to oversee the progress of construction on what they've designed. They need good analytical and problem-solving skills so that they can develop design plans that fit the client's needs and budget while also adhering to building codes. Their creative and artistic talents enable them to come up with new and original designs.

Job responsibilities of an architect include:

  • Attend meetings with clients
  • Review project needs
  • Prepare a design proposal and budget plan
  • Review building codes and applicable regulations
  • Finalize contracts with construction crews and contractors
  • Travel to building sites and inspect construction progress

Interior Designer

Interior designers are creative professionals who use their artistic sense to determine how to set up an interior space. A bachelor's degree is required, and some states require interior designers to be licensed. Interior designers may do some of their work in their office, but they also need to travel to the location they're designing. Their work hours can vary and they may be obliged to make their schedule flexible, depending on the needs of their clients. In addition to creative and artistic talents, they need to be able to pay close attention to details and possess strong communication skills.

Job responsibilities of an interior designer include:

  • Meet with potential clients
  • Discuss projects
  • Prepare project design proposals
  • Present a project budget to clients
  • Modify their design to fit the budget and needs of the client
  • Secure materials needed for projects

Related Careers

People considering a career as an architect may also be interested in the field of landscape architecture because this also involves developing design plans for clients. Becoming an industrial designer may be another career option for those thinking about interior design because the work of an industrial designer also involves creative and artistic skills to design various products, including items that may be used by interior designers, such as furniture.

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