In residential, public and commercial structures, it’s often the interior spaces where people live, work and do business. Interior designers are the professionals who design these inside spaces to be functional, aesthetically pleasing and safe.
Before they begin a design, interior designers must understand the client’s goals and the purpose and requirements of the process, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). They must choose design elements that will fit well with how the space is intended to be used and how people will move within that space. Interior designers create preliminary sketches and plans that consider the functionality of the room, such as the electrical layout. They determine the right colors, furniture, paint or wallpaper, flooring, lighting fixtures, plumbing fixtures and materials to achieve the design concept and use computer-aided design (CAD) software to create final design plans.
Planning is only part of the work of interior designers. They must also manage the timeline and cost to make sure the project can be completed on time and within budget. Interior designers make sure that the right materials are ordered and installed correctly and that the client is happy with the results.
Though interior design is important for a wide variety of fixtures, rooms, structures and purposes, specialization in the career is common. Some interior designers specialize in a specific type of fixture, like lighting, while others focus on certain types of rooms, such as kitchens and bathrooms. Still other specialties of interior design involve purposes like environmental sustainability or universal accessibility.
A bachelor’s degree in any subject is generally sufficient to attain an interior designer job, assuming the students takes the right design-related courses, the BLS reported. However, students who are serious about the career path should take an accredited course in interior design specifically or in a related subject. Different organizations accredit different types of programs, including:
- The National Association of Schools of Art and Design, which accredits about 300 college art and design programs
- The Council for Interior Design Accreditation, which accredits more than 150 interior design programs
- The National Kitchen & Bath Association, which accredits about 45 kitchen and bath design specialty programs
Whether a student chooses a specialized kitchen and bath program, an interior design program or a more general design program, he or she should take plenty of courses in interior design, computer-aided design and drawing. You may need to prove your artistic ability with sketches and other work to gain acceptance into a design program, according to the BLS. In some states, interior designers must be licensed or registered through a process which typically requires a relevant degree, a minimum number of years of experience and a passing score on a test like the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam
Interior designers earn a median salary of $47,600, according to the BLS. Those who work in industries like architectural and engineering services have the highest earning potential, and a median annual salary of $54,360. The job outlook for this profession is positive. Over ten years, the BLS anticipates interior designer opportunities to grow by 13 percent, compared to 11 percent for all occupations and just seven percent for arts and design occupations as a whole. The best opportunities, according to the BLS, will be for interior designers who work in high-income areas or who specialize in a certain type of interior design.
Interior designers plan the functionality and appearance of indoor spaces in homes, public buildings and commercial structures.