Job Description: Designers are involved in planning the interior spaces of buildings, and interior designers draw upon many disciplines to enhance the function, safety, and aesthetics of these spaces. Interior designers are concerned with how different colors, textures, furniture and lighting work together to meet the needs of a building’s occupants.
Training and Educational Qualifications: Postsecondary education especially a bachelor’s degree is recommended for entry level positions in interior design. In addition, 24 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico register or license interior designers. The National Council administers the licensing exam for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ). To be eligible to take the exam, applicants must have at least six years of combined education and experience in interior design, of which at least two are for postsecondary education in design.
Job Outlook: Employment of interior designers is expected to grow 19 percent from 2006-16, which is faster than the average. Economic expansion, growing homeowner wealth and an increased interest in interior design will increase demand for designers. However, interior designers are expected to face keen competition for available positions because many talented individuals are attracted to this profession.
Salary: Median annual earnings for interior designers are $42,260. The middle 50 percent earn between $31,830 and $57,230. The lowest 10 percent earn less than $24,270, and the highest 10 percent earn more than $78,760.
• Keen competition is expected for jobs in interior design because many talented individuals are attracted to the field.
• About 26 percent of interior designers are self-employed.
• Postsecondary education especially a bachelor’s degree is recommended for entry-level positions in interior design; licensure is required in 24 States, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Where are the best cities to live to find jobs like yours?
Washington DC, New York, Chicago, San Francisco.
What is your typical day like?
Every day is different. I spend some time at the computer drawing construction documents and updating orders/emailing to coordinate with engineers, contractors, vendors, etc. I also spend time on site, in the field, measuring and inspecting progress. Some days I spend with clients in meetings to discuss concepts, progress of design and selection of finishes and fabrics. Lastly, I spend a lot of time in the design library sketching and putting together materials and palettes for projects.
What are your job responsibilities?
I am often the only interior designer on a specific job, so I work hand in hand with the architects in the firm and with the clients. I am responsible for my construction drawings on the interiors from start to finish (applying for building permit and receiving it). I am the head contact person for interiors for my jobs (sometimes dealing with large companies, owners, contractors, engineers). For the residential work I do, I sometimes work in partnership with another designer. In residential work, we are responsible for procurement and delivery of all furniture/ fabrics, etc. I am also responsible for selecting, ordering and approving samples of all finish materials for the project.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I enjoy the diversity of projects no two projects are the same. I enjoy that I get to be creative and it is satisfying to see something built that I worked on.
What do you dislike about your job?
I dislike having to do bookkeeping and tracking orders (the administrative part of it). There is no job in interior design that allows you to be creative all of the time.
Have you had any turning point or “light bulb” moments in your career that have helped you get to where you are today?
I realized that I needed to trust my instinct and not be afraid to throw my ideas out there. Sometimes they work and sometimes they
don’t, but I’ll never get anywhere with the ideas that do work if I never put them out there.
Describe how you got into this industry and how you got your most recent job.
I introduced myself to my current boss as soon as I moved to town. She was not hiring at the time, but I asked for an informational interview as I had seen her firm’s work and thought it was great. I accepted another job with a different firm. A year later, I noticed on the ASID (American Society of Interior Designers) Web site that my current boss was hiring. I called her again, and she remembered me from our first meeting the year before. I came back for an interview and told her that I still wanted to do work for her. She hired me on the spot.
If you weren’t doing this job, what similar careers might you consider?
Architecture or graphic design.
To what professional associations do you belong and what professional publications do you read?
I belong to the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). I read Interior Design magazine, Architectural Digest, and Architectural Record. I also keep up with current interior design, architecture and art books that are published every year. While it is good to know what your peers are doing, it is important not to just read books/publications in your specific field. Sometimes a painting or a landscape can inspire and influence my design more than a particular “style” of interior design.
What advice do you have for others who would like to pursue this career?
Understand that you will have to be well rounded. You need to have skills in technical, creative areas as well as interpersonal skills a lot of time is spent dealing with clients, engineers and other professionals. Working as a team or group is a must.