Interior Design Career Paths

If you are creative, meticulous, and have a keen eye, you may want to work towards a career in interior design. Interior designer salaries average $50,224 per year, and the field continues to expand, with a median salary of $43,000. But which career route best matches your talents and ambitions from the numerous available options? Selecting an Interior design career paths can assist you in deciding which academic programs to take, internal design certifications, and interior design positions to apply for. In addition to teaching you theoretical ideas, degree programs also include the business side of things.

Finding a specialty and becoming an expert in it as an interior designer can be a wise career move, just as in many other professions, so you can better serve your clients. This essay will assist you in making the best career decision in interior design.

It is essential to understand the theory underlying the work of an interior designer, even if many people with a passion for design begin their careers as interior decorators who are not required to hold any accreditation from CIDA. Subjective ideas include color theory, rhythm and repetition, proportion and scale, and harmony. It is suitable for students to take such a course before starting their career as interior designers.

Education Requirements

A bachelor’s degree plus courses in drafting, computer-aided design, and interior design are often necessary to become an interior designer (CAD). Any field-specific bachelor’s degree is allowed. Internal design programs are available at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree levels.

Job Outlook

2016 to 2026 Projected Employment Percentage: 5% (faster than average) (7 percent is the overall average growth rate for all professions). Licensing/Certification Licensing requirements vary by state. In some states, only licensed designers can do interior design. In other conditions, licensed and unlicensed designers may perform such work;  However, only licensed designers can use the title Interior Designer. 

In other states, licensed and unlicensed designers call themselves interior designers and perform interior design work. 

Interior Design Career Paths

Median Salary: How Much Do Interior Designers Make? 

$49,810 annual Salary, $23.95 an hour

Experience at work

Getting relevant job experience demonstrates to companies that you can apply your abilities and expertise in a work setting. Additionally, it shows your initiative, drive, and dedication to a career in this industry.

Contact companies you would like to work with, such as interior design and architecture firms, design consultancies, construction firms, visual merchandising departments, and theaters, and ask if you can do a placement with them.

Entry-level jobs in the same type of company provide insight into the company’s context and enable you to make connections. For example, a shop assistant job can build your retail industry knowledge and connect you with the visual merchandising team. You can gain valuable learning experiences by participating in live discussions, competitions, and exhibitions.

How to start your career in interior design?

For most interior design careers, a strong portfolio is key to unlocking opportunities that launch your career. Graduate courses provide a supportive environment to hone and refine your sense of visual creativity, which will help you assemble an impressive portfolio leading to your first job.

At the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate levels, interior design is a field of study. However, your capacity to explain and put into practice client-centered solutions is more significant than your official credentials. However, it generally believes that obtaining a bachelor’s or master’s degree will enhance your creative growth. You will introduce many design elements in these programs throughout your career.

Skills and knowledge you need:

      Design skills and knowledge

      Pay attention to details and details

      Customer service skills

      Inventiveness and the capacity to find new solutions the power to take criticism well and perform successfully under pressure.

      Knowledge of building and construction

      Ability to use your initiative, work well with others & confidently use a computer and significant software packages

What do interior designers do?

Interior Design Career Paths

Interior designers usually do the following:

  • Find and bid on new projects
  • Determine the client’s goals and needs for the project
  • Consider how  will use the space and how people will move through the space
  • Create the fundamental design blueprints, such as the electrical and component layouts.
  • Include details about the materials and furniture you want to use, such as the lighting, furniture, wall treatments, flooring, and plumbing fixtures.
  • Make a schedule for the interior design project and calculate the expenditures.
  • Oversee the procurement of supplies and the placement of design components.
  • Supervise construction and coordinate with general building contractors to execute plans and specifications for the project
  • After the job finish, stop by the location to ensure the client is happy.
  • Interior designers collaborate closely with architects, civil engineers, mechanical engineers, construction workers, and assistants to decide how interior spaces will operate, appear, and furnish. Building codes and inspection requirements must understand by interior designers who also examine blueprints.

Interior design careers

CEO, Founder, Owner/Co-Owner, Partner, Principal, and Studio Principal are examples of executive job titles.

Average Pay: $115,000 (per IDA)

As the director of a design firm, your duties would include developing and communicating the company’s design vision, supervising projects from planning through the design phase, construction, and installation, and handling all financial management tasks like budgeting, invoicing, purchasing, and proposals as well as bringing in new clients. Interacts with clients; hires and fires staff; and recruits. A minimum of a bachelor’s degree is required for this leadership position, and an advanced degree is often preferred.

According to the IIDA report — based on 2,165 respondents who were employed or self-employed full-time in a design or design-related position — the broadest range of salaries among those with executive-level titles was five figures. the difference between the 25th percentile’s $80,000 annual pay and the 75th percentile’s $150,000 annual compensation. Academic qualifications, professional experience, credentials, and geographical location are all potential causes of this difference. Professional knowledge fetches more than double that of individuals with less than three years of experience ($45,000), which has the lowest median Salary among those with more than 30 years of design experience ($100,000).


Job Titles: Creative Director, Creative Director, Junior Principal, Junior Assistant, Managing Director, Senior Assistant, Studio Director

Median Salary: $97,600 (IIDA)

In-house designers with director positions oversee design tasks within the business and make essential project choices in light of their knowledge of the sector and practical experience. Directors must have an advanced understanding of design-build and construction processes;  They are responsible for setting budgets, selecting and installing furniture, and maintaining business and client relationships. A director will work with senior management to build and enforce the design vision inside a business; they must have a bachelor’s degree in interior design or a related subject.

Directors may get incentives ($2,000–$24,000 annually), profit sharing (up to $45,000 annually), and commissions (up to $69,000 annually) in addition to their base compensation, which ranges from $59,000 to $142,000.

Associate, Senior Interior Designer, Senior Architect, Senior Project Designer, Senior Designer, and Studio Manager are all titles for senior designers.

Average Wage: $74,000 (IIDA)

All work products and timetables are the responsibility of senior designers and architects. They oversee all technical elements of a project, work with project managers and design team members, give design presentations, and develop and implement project concepts. They must know the budget, product/furniture requirements, finish choosing, and space planning. Senior-level design professionals need strong interpersonal skills and experience with graphic presentations, 3D rendering, and construction drawings, in addition to a degree in architecture or design. They also need to be proficient in software programs like AutoCAD, 2D/3D software, Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.

At this level, the base pay for interior design work ranges from $50,000 to $90,000. For example, a senior architect at Boston-based Elkus Manfredi earns $134,000, according to Hence, salaries are commensurate with experience and can vary widely. Additional compensation includes bonuses (about $10,000 annually), profit sharing (up to $8,000), and commissions (up to $22,000).

Project Manager, Strategist and Planner are all related job titles.

Average Pay: $82,000 (IIDA)

All facets of interior design project planning, budgeting, and execution fall under the purview of a project manager. To complete the project on schedule and within budget, the PM must work with the design team members to develop a comprehensive project plan that includes technical models and time and material estimates. To negotiate with construction workers, interact with clients, and work within the design team, a PM has to have exceptional interpersonal skills. They also need good time management, leadership, and attention to detail skills.

There must be a significant discrepancy between the IDA’s $82,000 salary for interior design project managers and the reported findings. Additional compensation includes potential bonuses of up to $10,000, profit sharing of up to $12,000, and commissions of up to $35,000. So the way to make the big bucks for PMs seems to be through commissions, which can push salaries into six figures. A bachelor’s degree in interior design, architecture, or a closely related discipline is usually required for this position, along with at least five years of experience. Still, a master’s degree with expertise in design, graphics, relevant certification, and ten years of experience in software is preferred.

Job Titles for Designers: Interior Architect, Project Designer, Designer, and Architect

Architects make $65,500 on average (IIDA), whereas designers make $55,000. (IIDA)

Architects and designers must be skilled in managing a project from start to finish, keeping track of progress, working with a team, consulting clients, and completing tasks on time and within budget. A bachelor’s degree is the minimum education needed for a designer or architect; further study may be recommended or necessary. Previous experience in a relevant role;  Proficiency in AutoCAD and other related software, graphic design, and architectural drawings;  and requires well-honed interpersonal skills.

The Salary varies by title, education, and experience for a design professional at this level. According to IIDA’s findings, the overall median base salary for design professionals with an associate’s, bachelor’s, or doctoral degree remained steady at $69,000. In contrast, a slightly higher median base salary was reported among those with a master’s degree ($72,000).

Interior Designer

Salary: $39,610

An interior decorator collaborates with a client to establish the finished space’s look. The interior decorator must work with contractors and suppliers to choose furniture, materials, and other interior items to suit the customer’s design requirements after advising the client on space planning, layout, color coordination, finishes, and fixture selections. Transparent communication between the customer and decorator is crucial; as a result, excellent interpersonal, communication, organizational, and attention to detail abilities are needed. A bachelor’s degree is not essential. However, it is desired. Adobe Photoshop and AutoCAD proficiency may be required. The Salary for a design professional in this role fluctuates widely, depending on experience and education, from $21,000 to $57,000 on the low end.

Technical designer

 Job Titles: Technical Designer, CAD Draftsman

 Median Salary: $54,300 (IIDA), $46,500 (salary scale)

A CAD drafting technician or technical designer in this highly specialized position must be able to produce high-quality design drawings for building construction and project planning, including specifications for building regulations and plans, with the use of AutoCAD software. Along with inventiveness, organizational prowess, and the capacity to operate swiftly and effectively under time constraints, accuracy and attention to detail are crucial. Excellent interpersonal, communication and listening skills are necessary for mentoring engineers and executives in research and design. CAD drafters and technical designers must possess at least an associate’s degree or have received professional training in addition to being competent in the required software.

How does that happen?

Explore different ways to get into this role.

  • A university creation
  • A college
  • An apprenticeship
  • Working in this role


You can get a foundation degree, a higher national diploma, or a degree in a related subject:

  • Interior design
  • Art and design
  • Interior architecture
  • Spatial design

Entry requirements

Usually, you will need the following:

  • 1 or 2 A Levels for a Foundation Degree or Advanced National Diploma, or equivalent
  • 2 to 3 A levels for a degree or equivalent

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