Commercial and industrial designers make products that are both aesthetically pleasing and functional. That includes furniture for businesses, institutions and private homes. They work closely with interior designers to create matching sets of furniture that complement different settings. Interior and industrial designers usually need a bachelor's degree to find employment.
Commercial and Industrial Designers
Commercial and industrial designers working in the manufacture of office furniture earned an average income of $51,690 as of 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS. Those employed in the manufacture of furniture for homes and institutions earned an average of $50,440. These figures are somewhat lower than the average income for commercial and industrial designers across all industries, $62,430 per year. This is because manufacturing industries such as electronics, automobiles and aerospace products tend to pay significantly higher wages than furniture manufacture.
Interior designers working in the manufacture of office furniture reported an average annual salary of $51,520 to the BLS in 2012. Those who designed household and institutional furniture reported a somewhat lower average wage of $47,180 per year. These figures are comparable to the national average salary of interior designers across all industries, $52,970 per year.
Geographical Differences in Pay
Pay for both interior and industrial designers varied throughout the United States in 2012, with the highest rates of pay being loosely concentrated in the West and Northeast regions of the country. Average pay for commercial and industrial designers ranged from a low of $35,600 per year in South Dakota to a high of $81,610 in Oregon. Interior designers working North Dakota reported the lowest average income, $31, 550, while those in the District of Columbia reported the highest, $66,830 per year.
While the demand for designers is increasing in many industries, the University of Missouri in St. Louis reports that this is not true of furniture manufacturing. Manufacturing has been experiencing a general decline in the United States for decades, and given that the entire furniture manufacturing industry employs only about 1,000 designers total, jobs in furniture design may be hard to come by for some applicants. The upside, however, is that a degree in industrial or interior design can also lead to jobs in a variety of other fields if a job in furniture design can't be found.