How much do interior designers make in the United States?

Interior designer with some cash working at his desk
A professional reconversion can bring concerns, especially about a potential loss of income. We give you here details of the different salary ranges you can expect in your next professional life.

Interior Designers in the United States Earn

Interior design is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States.

  •       Worth $40.7 Billion of the US market size based on revenue.
  •       Average salaries of an interior designer looking to steadily increase alongside a predicted 3.5% market increase in 2021.There is huge potential to earn a competitive salary as an interior designer or interior decorator.

This gives a great indication of how much interior designers make in the United States.

What is an interior designer salary on average?

The interior designer salary in the United states ranges between $37,431 and  $92,500 as it is the median salary it includes the top 20% in the industry

The rise of Residential Designers

This statistic  mostly reflects residential designers working within interior design firms targeted at a mixture of residential and commercial design. Three of the US firms where annual salaries are higher than the average are;

  •   Gensler
  •   Jacobs
  •   HOC

Since Covid-19, Interior design salaries have seen an increase of between 7-11% which makes it one of the fastest growing industries during the pandemic with jobs requiring this skill set increasing substantially according to freelancer platforms Fiverr and Upwork. This has been attributed to;

  •   More time spent at home
  •   Office layouts changing
  •   Home offices being required
  •   Commercial covid regulations.


How much do interior designers make a year?

The average salary for a United States employee is $35,977. In comparison how much do interior designers make in a year? The average interior design salary across the US is $57,43. There are many factors that influence the amount an interior designer can make a year. One of them is geographical. The top three cities for average interior design salaries are;

  •   Fort Lauderdale ($74,254)
  •   San Diego ($73,344)
  •   Sarasota ($69,643).

Computer Aided Design and Design Software effect on Earning potential

Whether paid hourly, contractually or based on a percentage of the contract cost, an interior designer has numerous ways in which they can contribute to their salary, these are;

  •   Design Software renders
  •   Mood Boards
  •   Consultations
  •   Lighting Design
  •   Furniture procurement
  •   Art Procurement
  •   Full design schemes.

Interior design is one of the highest paid creative arts and the higher average salary can, in part, be attributed to the multitude of skills an interior designer can employ to create and enhance a space. Knowledge and proficiency in computer aided design and design software can have a positive effect on a designers average salary.

Do I need a Degree In Interior Design?

To become a successful interior designer most will require a degree in interior design (Batchelor or diploma) . This takes three years to complete but can be completed remotely over six years if necessary. A diploma takes between 1-2 years.

High Earning Interior Designers Require a Bachelor Degree in the United States

The Bachelor degree teaches you invaluable interior design skills such as understanding of computer aided design software, working with clients, building codes and regulations as well as colour theory and design styles. This knowledge and experience creates the foundation for a successful designer. 

The higher average interior design salaries are attributed to post graduate designers with a minimum of two years experience.

The knowledge and understanding developed through a degree in interior design alongside industry experience can increase your annual salary to $74,655 after 3-5 years experience with the top 20% earning over $121,347.

What is the difference with an Interior decorator Salary?

The difference between an interior designer and interior decorator is that an Interior designer uses the art and science of design to create beautiful and functional spaces within a building.  An interior decorator will furnish, stage and decorate a space to achieve a given design scheme or aesthetic. Interior designers may decorate but an interior decorator is often not proficient enough with building codes and design software to design. The interior decorator salary is usually worked out hourly. An hourly rate for an interior decorator is between $20-$45 (house staging being the most highly paid). House staging is the creation of show home interiors and real estate staging before a property is sold. This is when interior decorators are provided with a design scheme, often on computer aided design software (from an interior designer) and then decorating and placing furniture to complete the scheme. This is an invaluable skill for realtors to ensure that the property reaches its full potential. Interior decorators can provide a weekly income of between $1,100 – $1,800 depending on experience. 

Freelance Interior Designers, What are the main differences?

Freelance interior designers have the potential to earn a comparatively high annual salary. The average salary for the top 40% of designers on Upwork and Fiverr (the industry leading freelancer platforms) is $77,221. Most of the Freelance work is based on residential design and small commercial projects; shops, bars, small offices and restaurants. There are not the guaranteed perks and financial security that are common whilst working within a firm; Health insurance, 401(k) and paid holiday to note a few. It is important to further note that cost of living, alongside computer aided design software costs and health insurance can eat in to your net profit. The Upside to becoming a Freelance interior designer is that you have the freedom to work from anywhere in the world with a variety of clients.

The ability to select projects you want to work on allows a freelancer to build relationships by working directly with clients, manufacturers and suppliers.

The top 20% earn over $113,000 per year with the top 10% earning anywhere from $130,000-$250,000. This statistic is curated globally as both Fiverr and Upwork are not restricted to the United States.

The Importance of Design Software

Industry standard design software can be expensive. There are a number of industry standard softwares that are provided to a designer when studying a Batchelor degree. HomeByMe is the best known and cheapest all-in-one solution. However, once in the industry these require monthly or yearly subscriptions. Understanding and harnessing this tool is the difference between a good interior designer and a great designer. The ability to provide accurate visualisations of your design scheme is invaluable. As a Freelance interior designer subscribing to a Pro version has a cost but a pre requisite to success. A design software is becoming the industry standard for interior designers. And HomeByMe is a fantastic example. 

The challenges of Working with clients

If you are working for a larger company or firm, it may be the case that you are not in direct contact with clients. You may be provided with their design inspirations and a job description and have to create a design scheme, 3D renders, mood boards or other design based work. This is not necessarily an issue when you are a recent Batchelor degree graduate looking to gain industry focused experience. However, in order to maximise your understanding and future potential as a designer it is important to be present at all stages during the process. Client interaction can teach you a huge amount, there will be difficult clients, indecisive clients, fantastic clients and everything in-between. Developing relationships directly with clients is ultimately what strengthens and develops your design brand. Word of mouth is one of the easiest ways to secure work. If you are confident in your ability to communicate and get the best out of your client it is certainly one of the best ways continue to secure work. 

How to earn a Higher Salary

A combination of Residential and commercial design within a firm and freelance design is often employed as the best way to earn a higher salary. Many designers work within a firm for 3 days a week. Understanding the constraints and cost of living means that most designers want to ensure they are earning a fixed salary. Working for both a firm and freelance ensures financial security, health insurance, 401(k) and paid holiday. For the further 2 working days Interior designers use their knowledge of building codes, working with clients, design software and computer aided design to work freelance, whether this is with clients they have built relationships with, friends and family or on freelancer platforms.

This can lead to a growth of your own design style, experience in design as well as the opportunity to develop client, manufacturer and retailer relationships. These skills will allow you to grow your own design business and eventually the ability to start your own firm.

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