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Interior Designers - What They Do


How to Advance (Advancement)
Optional certifications in residential kitchen and bath design are available from the National Kitchen and Bath Association. The association offers several different levels of certification for kitchen and bath designers, each achieved through training seminars and certification exams.

Beginning interior designers receive on-the-job training and normally need 1 to 3 years of training before they can advance to higher level positions. Experienced designers in large firms may advance to chief designer, design department head, or some other supervisory position. Some experienced designers open their own firms or decide to specialize in one aspect of interior design. Other designers leave the occupation to become teachers in schools of design or in colleges and universities. Many faculty members continue to consult privately or operate small design studios to complement their classroom activities.

Employment
Interior designers held about 71,700 jobs in 2008. About 30 percent of interior designers worked in specialized design services. Additionally, 14 percent of interior designers provided design services in architectural and landscape architectural services and 9 percent worked in furniture and home-furnishing stores. Many interior designers also performed freelance work in addition to holding a salaried job in interior design or another occupation.

Job Outlook
Employment is expected to grow faster than average; however, keen competition for jobs is expected.

Job Growth
Employment of interior designers is expected to grow 19 percent from 2008 to 2018, faster than the average for all occupations. An increasing interest in interior design and awareness of its benefits will increase demand for designers. As businesses realize the improvements that can be made to worker and customer satisfaction through good design, they will use interior designers to redesign their offices and stores.

Homeowners are increasingly using the services of interior designers when they plan new additions, remodel aging kitchens and bathrooms, and update the general décor of their home. Many homeowners also have requested design help in creating year-round outdoor living spaces and home theater systems.

Demand for interior design services from the healthcare industry is expected to be high because of an anticipated increase in demand for facilities that will accommodate the aging population. Designers will be needed to make these facilities as comfortable and homelike as possible for patients. There will also be demand from businesses in the hospitality industry—hotels, resorts, and restaurants—where good design work can help attract more business.

Some interior designers choose to specialize in one design element to create a niche for themselves in an increasingly competitive market. The demand for kitchen and bath design is growing in response to the growing demand for home remodeling. Designs using the latest technology in, for example, home theaters, state-of-the-art conference facilities, and security systems are expected to be especially popular. In addition, demand for home spas, indoor gardens, and outdoor living space should continue to increase.

Extensive knowledge of ergonomics and green design are expected to be in demand. Ergonomic design has gained in popularity with the growth in the elderly population and workplace safety requirements. The public's growing awareness of environmental quality and the growing number of individuals with allergies and asthma are expected to increase the demand for green design.

Interior designers are expected to face keen competition for available positions because many talented individuals are attracted to this profession. Individuals with little or no formal training in interior design, as well as those lacking creativity and perseverance, will find it very difficult to establish and maintain a career in this occupation. Designers with formal training or experience in green or energy efficient-design in particular are expected to have better job prospects due to increased interest in this area.

As the economy grows, more private businesses and consumers will request the services of interior designers. However, design services are considered a luxury expense and may be subject to fluctuations in the economy. For example, decreases in consumer and business income and spending caused by a slow economy can have a detrimental effect on employment of interior designers.

Earnings
Median annual wages for interior designers were $44,950 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $34,620 and $61,880. Interior design salaries vary widely with the specialty, type of employer, number of years of experience, and reputation of the individuals. Among salaried interior designers, those in large specialized design and architectural firms tend to earn higher and more stable salaries. Interior designers working in retail stores usually earn a commission, which can be irregular.

For residential design projects, self-employed interior designers and those working in smaller firms usually earn a per-hour consulting fee, plus a percentage of the total cost of furniture, lighting, artwork, and other design elements. For commercial projects, they might charge a per-hour consulting fee, charge by the square footage, or charge a flat fee for the whole project. Also, designers who use specialty contractors usually earn a percentage of the contractor's earnings on the project in return for hiring the contractor. Self-employed designers must provide their own benefits.

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Academic Programs of Interest

Interior Design
The Interior Design Program curriculum is a comprehensive program combining theoretical elements of interior design with practical creative approaches to the solution of functional and aesthetic design problems in the living, working, and recreational human environment. Competencies generally developed ...more
Painter and Decorator
The Painter and Decorator Program is designed to teach a student how to apply paint, wallpaper, fabric and other finishes to interior and exterior surfaces of buildings and other structures. A Painter and Decorator student will also learn how to repair cracks and holes in walls and prepare work surfaces ...more