Whether you want to become the next Kelly Wearstler or just love to work with interior design, you might want to have a look at the potential income:
What is the Average Salary for Interior Designers in the U.S.?
Here is the average salary for interior designers:
|Annually||Monthly||Hourly||% of Jobs|
|$18000 – $23499||$1500 – $1958||$8.66 – $11.31||1%|
|$23500 – $28999||$1958 – $2417||$11.31 – $13.95||4%|
|$29000 – $34499||$2417 – $2875||$13.95 – $16.60||9%|
|$34500 – $39999||$2875 – $3333||$16.60 – $19.25||11%|
|$40000 – $45499||$3333 – $3792||$19.25 – $21.89||16%|
|$45500 – $50999||$3792 – $4250||$21.89 – $24.54||15%|
|$51000 – $56499||$4250 – $4708||$24.54 – $27.18||13%|
|$56500 – $61999||$4708 – $5167||$27.18 – $29.83||11%|
|$62000 – $67499||$5167 – $5625||$29.83 – $32.48||7%|
|$67500- $72999||$5625 – $6083||$32.48 – $35.12||5%|
|$73000 – $78500||$6083 – $6542||$32.12 – $37.77||3%|
How much do Interior Designers Make per Job?
A lot would depend on your level of expertise, and years of experience. The popularity of your design style and location would also make a difference in the rate you could charge.
The range will typically be from $50 – $200, with the high-end designers being $200 – $300/hr.
Along with this, you would charge for the furniture, accessories, etc., plus possibly a mark-up on the decorations. There are various ways an Interior Designer can charge.
Some of which are as follows:
- Hourly: Interior Designers may opt to charge on an hourly basis. Normally the rate varies from $35 – $350/hr. This rate is for your initial consultation, designs, and décor plans. This could also include the staging of accessories and placing of furniture items.
- Retail Price: This is when a selection is presented to your client, on which you then add a mark-up to each item chosen by the client.
- Cost Plus: It is a fee of 15 – 35 percent above the cost of items calculated and charged to the client – this excludes transport and sales tax.
- Retail Trade Discount: This means that you as the Interior Designer receive merchandise at a discounted rate from the supplier. This could be around 10-20 percent, which then becomes your income (i.e. you sell the merchandise to the client at the standard list price).
- Fixed/Flat Rate: This is when you give your client a fixed price, but then specify the number of hours that will be spent on their design, after which your hourly rate will come into place. Sometimes clients prefer to know upfront exactly what they will be charged.
- Online Design Services: Consulting and designing online is usually charged as a flat rate, ranging from a few hundred dollars up into the thousands of dollars. This is where you supply your client with a plan and a shopping list. Price charged will depend on your popularity as a designer.
Related Article: Amazing Interior Designers You Should Know! (Sorted By State)
Self-employed vs. Employee – Who earns the Most?
Being self-employed comes with many advantages, as well as some disadvantages – as does being employed!
It would definitely be up to what you consider important.
Do you prefer the safety of being employed, with a steady monthly income, but in return, you are selling your ‘hours of life’ for that security?
Or do you feel that your freedom is of more value to you?
If you have the network to get clients, it would most often be more financially rewarding than earning a set salary with benefits.
Being self-employed means you will need to pay for all the costs yourself. These costs will be for things like:
- Your software license,
- your fuel to travel to and from your clients, and for trips to your suppliers.
- You would need to consider things like your telephone bill,
- internet connection costs, and stationery costs,
- just to mention a few.
But in the end, you could end up earning yourself a reputation as a reputable Interior Designer and open your own business, whereby you become the Employer.
Do keep in mind that in certain states in the U.S. you are required to have a license to work as an Interior Designer.
Louisiana, Florida, Nevada, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico require you to be licensed or work for someone who is licensed. Licensed people are your Architects, Engineers or even other Interior Designers.
Related Article: Stats & Facts About Interior Designers (Jobs, Growth, & Numbers)
Software cost for interior designers
Here are some of the Licensing costs for the most popular Software’s used:
|Autocad||$210 / mth||$1680 / yr.|
|Autocad Design Suite||$265 / mth||$2100 / yr.||$4195 / Stand-alone License|
|Solidworks / Draftsight||$1295 / yr.|
|Primavera||$500 / yr.||$2500 license for life|
|3D Studiomax||$1545 / yr.|
|BIM / Revit||$173.19 / mth for 3yrs||Training $2000|
|Sketchup Pro||$299 / yr.||$695 non-expire|
|Adobe Illustrator||$9.99 – $49.99 / mth|
Some advantages of being employed are that you get offered an income, generally anywhere from $18000 to $60000 per annum, with some lucrative Benefits.
Normally the income offered is around $40000 to $60000.
The huge difference in income offered is due to:
- How many years’ experience you have,
- your credentials held,
- any further education (i.e. FF&E Certificate – Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment)
- and whether you are NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Designers Qualification) certified or not.
Most employers also require you are ADA Code compliant – have knowledge of Americans with Disabilities Act Code.
Benefits from being an employee:
- Health Insurance
- Simple IRA
- Paid Vacation
- Paid Time Off
- 401K (some offer to pay 4% of the contributed amount)
- Disability Insurance
- Child-care Support
- Maternity Leave
- Paternity Leave
- Savings Plans
- Commuter Benefits
- Student Loan Assistance
- Tuition Assistance
It is interesting to note that 1 in every 5 Interior Designers are, in fact, self-employed.
Where do Interior Designers get paid the Most?
The highest-paid Interior Designers are found mostly in:
- Washington D.C.,
- Rhode Island,
- New York,
- and California.
With the average salary in Washington D.C. being $84410 / year!
The 10 Cities With The Most Interior Designers
- Washington D.C.
- San Francisco,
- Salt Lake City,
- St Louis
Northeast is likely to make $12000 / year more than Midwest designers
Northeast and West are the highest paid, Midwest is the lowest paid while the South is receiving the average salary.
Average Salary by State – Highest to Lowest:
|1. New York||2. Massachusetts||3. Maryland||4. Hawaii||5. Nebraska|
|6. Washington||7. Nevada||8. Montana||9. Nth Dakota||10. Wyoming|
|11. Alaska||12. Idaho||13. Vermont||14. California||15. Connecticut|
|16. Virginia||17. West Virginia||18. Delaware||19. New Hampshire||20. Arizona|
|21. Pennsylvania||22. Colorado||23. South Dakota||24. South Carolina||25. Minnesota|
|26. Oregon||27. New Jersey||28. Rhode Island||29. Tennessee||30. Kentucky|
|31. Ohio||32. Louisiana||33. Kansas||34. Indiana||35. Iowa|
|36. Oklahoma||37. Utah||38. Wisconsin||39. Arkansas||40. Alabama|
|41. Texas||42. Maine||43. Georgia||44. New Mexico||45. Illinois|
|46. Michigan||47. Missouri||48. Mississippi||49. Florida||50. Nth Carolina|
Do Interior Designers make more than Architects?
An Architects salary ranges from $36500 to $135500 per year, while Interior Designers salaries rank substantially lower from $18000 to $ 78500 per year.
The average salary for an Architect is $81904 per year as opposed to the Interior Designer’s average lagging behind at $50228 per year.
These figures are the National Average as of September 2019.
But all considered, the Architect might earn a higher salary but has less employment offers available than an Interior Designer. To the credit of the Architect, the Interior Designer has a more physically intensive job to do.
However, freelancing Interior Designers earn more than a new Architect working for a firm.
On choice, it would really come down to what you prefer to do. Do you want to design Buildings, or do you have an artistic flair that needs to be expressed in decorating by bringing out the beauty of any space?
Related Article: Can Interior Designers Save You Money? 5 Helpful Examples
Interior Designer Job Responsibilities
These are some of the main responsibilities and tasks for interior designers:
- Meet Clients to discuss the scope of work
- Prepare the designs
- Present the designs
- Present a budget for the client
- Modifying designs to fit client budgets
- Procurement – materials needed to complete the design
- Attention to detail is imperative
- You will need to be ‘hands-on’ from the first meeting with the client, until completion of the end result
In a nutshell – you do EVERYTHING.
What’s the Start Salary for an Interior Designer?
The entry-level for an Interior Designer is on average $30754 / year. Experienced Interior Designers can earn up to $104018 / year.
In May 2018 the Median salary was $53370 per year, although salaries ranged from $29970 to $94130 per year.
Salary Determining Factors
- Years of Experience
- Type of Employer (commercial, retail, residential)
- Specialties (FF&E Certified, Autocad Specialists)
- Credentials (NCIDQ)
- ** PhD averages $15000 per year more than non-PhD holders
- Experience in ‘Green’ or Efficient Energy Options
- Private or Commercial
- Market Demand
Related Article: Do Interior Designers Need Licenses & Degrees? (U.S. Rules)
Median annual earning per Industry
- Architectural, engineering – $59670
- Specialized Design Services – $51240
- Wholesale Trade – $50680
- Furniture Stores – $45550
How High is the Demand for Interior Designers?
Employment in the Interior Designer field has a 4% projected growth from 2016 to 2026, which is, on average, slightly slower than for other occupations.
Nevertheless, there are numerous job opportunities to be found on job sites like –
When applying for an Interior Designer Position, do have the following drafted into a professional package:
- Comprehensive Portfolio (no more than 5mb)
- Cover Letter
Your service is a luxury service but does not mean your only clients are on the high-end.
A lot of people are becoming penny savvy, and realize that hiring you can actually save them money in the long run.
Your knowledge and skill set can prevent them from making costly design mistakes, like purchasing a stunning expensive couch, only to realize afterward that it does not quite match the paint on the wall directly behind it. And you only painted that wall last!
They also realize that you have access to more resources than they do, which means you will be able to purchase merchandise at a reduced rate.
Your design fee might be $3000 (for example), but the split on discount (between you and the client) for the furniture could be 10% off the $30000…. That just paid for their design fee.
This is how they save.
To be an Interior Designer you will need to be passionate about your career, with a strong desire and determination to succeed as it is a very competitive field.
You will need to strive to stand out from the rest to make your mark on the playing field.
You might think that interior designing might be a dying profession because everyone knows how to Google, but never underestimate your value to the market.
There are more than enough people out there willing to pay to have that job done for them, as time (after all) is money.
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Morten is the founder of GoDownsize. He has filmed and interviewed people living in tiny houses and RVs since 2011. He grew up on the coast where his dad took him boating from a young age. He has completely rebuilt two RVs in which he travels with his family for months at the time. Read more about Morten here.