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Which Interior Design Jobs Have The Best Salary?

Every time you visit a home that is such a perfect blend of exquisitely magnificent and functional, and you ask yourself what’s done differently. The answer is almost always competent interior design!  Interior design as a career path has the power to transform spaces completely. Interior design or interior architect as a career is a competitive and exciting one and is consistently in the top half of the rankings.

It includes creating aesthetically pleasing environments that are also functional. It combines various talents such as creativity, teamwork, people-skill, organizational and communication skills, a keen knowledge of psychology and human behavior, and even science to great extent.

There are also various types of specialization in interior design career that one can master. From residential projects to commercial, hospitality, and civic projects, interior design caters to a wide variety of clients with varied requirements and different parameters of compliance and function. Each of these fields requires a separate plethora of skillsets and dedication, which greatly influence the pay scale and profits an interior designer earns. Most importantly a basic knowledge of graphic design, AutoCAD, space planning is a must.

To enter the field interior designers typically hold a bachelor’s degree or an associate’s degree minimum along with the required interior design program that is available across different fields for students to pursue.

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The degree can be in art, architecture, interior design, or a related field. A master’s degree is also pursued later to get a better salary package. However, this requirement largely varies from state to state. Passing the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam is the top priority when trying to obtain an interior design certification.

Similarly, the necessity of a license and related work experience also differ depending on your location. While some states allow people to use the tag of interior designer without a license, other states mandate that they hold a license, obtained by qualifying in the state specified examinations.

Many factors affect the salary an interior designer draws, to begin with, the type of degree the designer holds can play a big role. While it’s not mandatory in all states to hold a degree in design, if you are applying to a government design role, this can affect the overall package offered to you. Similarly, certain designers who concentrate on a niche field such as sustainable or restorative interior design tend to draw a different salary than the average designer.

There are a number of fields that branch out from the interior design job market. These include the different types of roles the interior designer himself can adorn, from residential to commercial, corporate, hospitality, institutional, and even religious space designers.

There are also other supplementary roles in an interior design office such as a draftsman to draw layouts and blueprints, 3D modeler, project manager, bookkeepers and accountants, public and media relationship managers, human resources, etc. All these skill sets come together to bring us aesthetically pleasing as well as efficient habitats that leave the user happy and content.

Read also – How To Become An Interior Designer?

Highest Paying Interior Design Jobs:

Interior designers make different salaries based on their education, experience, client base, and the industry type they cater to.

1. Government interior designers

Let’s start with a government interior designer. Interior designers who are hired by the federal executive branch of the U.S. government fall under this branch. Having years of experience is a major bonus in applying for such jobs.

These are the professionals who are responsible for designing the interiors of various government-owned-and-operated buildings such as courtrooms, assembly halls, cultural buildings, city halls, etc., and also public areas within these buildings, such as lobbies, libraries, gardens, and cafeterias, etc.

pay for government interior design jobs

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A notable feature of this kind of interior design is that the consumer is not involved in the decision-making or designing. Additionally, in all cases, the interiors try to portray an image or symbol that is majestic, awe-inspiring, and even slightly ominous. They hence traditionally feature marble, stone, lofty ceilings, and imposing architectural elements.

At times, their role also includes giving a new look to older public buildings by refurbishing or repairing them. Agencies like Veterans Health Administration, Public Building Services, and the Department of State are often known to hire interior designers.

It should be noted that most government Interior designer jobs would be located in first-tier cities like New York or Washington DC where the cost of living is higher than other cities. So even if you earn a decent package, your net income could be lower or equal to other types of jobs.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary range is from $81,100 to as much as $160,822.

Read also – How Much Do Interior Designers Make?

2. Corporate interior designers

Corporate designers are ones who are employed by private companies or large design firms. The main workforce is spent on designing different types of chic, contemporary, professional workspaces for clients of all sizes. From small 25 people offices to large company headquarters, the design is drawn out with strict adherence to the clients’ specific needs.

pay for corporate interior design jobs

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While designing an office various factors like the number of locations, employees, building codes, fire safety, etc., are at the forefront of design goals. Offices are often also crafted with the socio-cultural beliefs of the firm and its values as guidelines.

According to Glassdoor, the average base pay of a corporate interior designer is $51,775 and can go as high as $70,000.

Read also – What Does An Interior Designers Do?

3. Healthcare interior designers

Healthcare design professionals are ones who specialize in improving spaces such as hospitals, clinics, etc.

pay for healthcare interior design jobs

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These designers not only follow strictly the building codes and insurance laws but also ensure ergonomics, psychology, and science are made use of to provide a peak sterilized, healing environment for the patients and doctors. Good circulation, optimum ventilation, and HVAC, and state-of-the-art lighting and equipment are a few of the areas they focus on.

Healthcare interior designers draw a national average salary of $70,108 according to ZipRecruiter.

Read also – 10 Most Popular Types of Interior Design Styles

4. Residential interior designers

Residential designers are probably the most common type of interior design field. This is probably because as a residential interior designer you have the maximum flexibility in terms of design and creativity.

However, this also means there is a downside to it. Unlike in commercial interior design where the client oversees the big picture, here it is often seen that clients can get nit-picky and interfere in every stage of design and execution that can hamper the flow and the timeline of the projects.

The work scope is also often more since each fixture, each room, each piece of furniture, and carpet has to be picked individually, depending on how you like to see it, you may either be exhausted or enjoy the detailed process. After all, god lies in details, and so does beauty!

Read also – How Much Does an Interior Designer Cost?

pay for residential interior design jobs

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Residential interior design is a full-time job that also involves the maximum amount of client meetings, discussions, approvals, and communication, as every stage needs to be passed by the client individually.

If the design project you are working on, is being built from the ground up, chances are there will be some outdoor living spaces to be designed as well. You can also in collaboration with the architect, integrate and tweak the architectural features in this case.

According to PayScale.com, the average annual salary at an entry-level position is $47,990 with higher-paying projects reporting a high of $69,000 for experienced designers.

Some residential interior designers also are involved with flipping houses. This means the entire home is done up to the tastes and like of the designer and architect in keeping with the location, and market.

Read also – Pricing Strategies for Interior Designers

5. Commercial interior designers

While this is sometimes teamed up with a corporate interior design, commercial designers dedicate their practice to more public spaces, malls, retail outlets, entertainment centers, shops, banks, etc., more than office environments.

salary for commercial interior designers

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While the usual building codes and laws are followed here too, the focus is more on a space that sparks brand identity and consumer satisfaction. They have expertise on how customers interact with spaces to promote higher footfalls, increased sales, and positive feedback.

The interior design in such scenarios, helps the brand sell a product or service to the client through their experience of the space. They help a brand connect and influence its target clientele. Wayfinding, branding, signage, and display design are a few of the tools in their kit.

Commercial interior designers are also hired by established marketing and branding firms and larger retailers directly even.

Read also – Commercial Interior Design Ideas

6. Hospitality interior designers

Interior design in the hospitality field primarily around hotels, restaurants, cafes, bistros and bars, lounges, country clubs, spas, and fitness clubs. Since this business is service-driven the design is often luxurious, amenities top-notch, and the budget deep. These projects are often specific style-driven and cater to the business requirement.

hospitality interior designers

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For instance, a luxurious oriental spa chain will follow elevated Asian heritage features and experience in all of its branches. Similarly in a restaurant, the interior designer must provide for a well-equipped industrial kitchen, seating area that is charming yet handles crowd well, and materials that are stylish yet hold up to constant usage.

Maximizing employee productivity and gaining revenue through customer support and guest satisfaction are the goals of hospitality interior designers. An experienced designer will strike the chord of balance between high-end luxury and optimum functionality that will gain the chain loyal patrons while keeping the investors and owners happy.

Read also – How Much Do Architects Make?

7. Sustainable interior designers

Sustainable interior designers provide design strategies that have adopted environmentally responsible interior solutions. The most significant criteria in the choice of such practices are low footprint and environmental impact, low maintenance, as well as cost-efficiency comfort durability, flexibility, and safety.

These designers rely on choosing eco-friendly building materials and sustainable design solutions in interior spaces that are non-toxic. It is worth mentioning that for maximum sustainable efficiency, involving a designer from the inception right up till the construction of a project makes good sense.

salary for sustainable interior designers

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For instance, installing solar panels decreases the usage of conventional power throughout the day. Couple this with proper insulation and suitable local materials for construction, and the result is high energy conservation. Sustainability interior designers can even point out how to improve the air and water quality to boost the energy efficiency of the building. Common materials like floors are being replaced by eco-friendly materials like cork, bamboo sheets, etc.

Obtaining certification in LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) from the U.S. Green Building Council for Sustainable designers can prove to be a significant milestone. Glassdoor reports a median salary of $61,646 for sustainable interior designers.

Read also – Sustainable and Holistic Interior Design

8. Other special designers

Designers can also choose to pursue a niche career and pick their own specialities such as industrial designers Numerous associations to help interior designers get centered and master particular facets of this profession such as lighting or kitchen design.

Some of those specialized organizations include the American Lighting Association, the U.S. Green Building CouncilThe National Kitchen + Bath Association, etc. the salaries drawn for such specializations vary greatly depending on the firm that hired you, the location of the firm, and the clients that you cater to.

It’s thus safe to conclude that though the work environment and creativity may be restricted, a government interior decorator undoubtedly can pull the highest salary paid in this industry which is as high as $160,822, with adequate experience and talent.

However, if you decide to be self-employed and practice on your own, though the journey is an arduous and long one, there is no saying how much profits you can earn. If everything goes well and you win yourself some loyal, high-end clientele and projects, the profits to be obtained by practicing individually can definitely surpass all the above-mentioned salaries.

Read also – 10 Most Famous Interior Designers


In conclusion, we have witnessed that even with the large variation in pay scales, the two most popular sectors of interior design remain residential and commercial. Both specializations can be practiced under an established firm or individually, and are considered as top earners.

With an average residential interior design salary at $47,990 compared to the commercial average at $51,775, residential interior design gets topped by a hair strand. But what you chose to finally pick depends on your talents, interests, opportunities presented, and finally your future plans.

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