Interior designers can make drab interiors seem new and fresh and even have their own television shows and housewares lines. For those with a sense of style and an eye for detail, becoming an interior designers is not only a good fit, but a lucrative career choice as well. Understanding the earning potential of an interior designer can make the hurdles of school and training worthwhile.
Average Salary Range
Interior designers are part artist and part architect, with a four-year bachelor's degree. They draw upon decorating philosophies learned in the classroom and pulled from their own aesthetic style. The average annual salary for an interior designer was $52,400 in 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salaries ranged from $26,490 to $89,060. Other factors, such as place of employment and experience, can increase the earning potential for an interior designer markedly. Those interior designers who make a name for themselves in a given market, and are identified with high-profile designs, can expect to earn far more than the average range.
Some interior designers find employment with furniture stores or building supply designers. This type of employment is very steady, particularly compared to freelance or per-contract designers, but tends to deal with a single type of interior design. For example, an interior designer working for a furniture store may have to emphasize a couch, table or other piece of furniture in order to sell that item to customers. The compensation for this kind of job, however, is slightly below the average with an expected salary of $44,240.
Jobs With Benefits
About a quarter of interior designers were employed by architectural or engineering firms in 2013. Salaried interior designers who work for architectural or engineering firms can expect more stable employment in addition to their higher-than-average $59,480 salary. Some benefits of this kind of employment include retirement, health insurance and the possibility of more exposure through high-profile interior design projects.
Out On Your Own
A little more than a quarter of interior designers, however, were self-employed. While the work schedule for self-employed interior designers is more erratic than those employed in retail or design, their reputation and success more closely impacts their earning potential. As a rule of thumb, those interior designers who work freelance charge a consulting fee commensurate with their skill and reputation level, as well as a percentage of the cost of any furniture, fixtures or other materials used to redesign an interior space. The average salary for a freelance interior designer in 2013 was a little more than $54,940, but employment can be sporadic.
Work Settings With Potential
Though the lowest-paid 10 percent of interior designers earned less than $26,000 a year, usually because they were self-employed or paid on commission in retail, the top 10 percent of interior designers earned more than three times as much. Well-known interior designers, or those with unique vision and a reputation for their designs, can expect to earn more and enjoy steady work. Some work settings also pay much better. Interior designers who worked for the federal executive branch earned than $73,980 a year in 2013, according to the BLS.