What Interior Designers Do
Interior designers make indoor spaces functional, safe, and beautiful by determining space requirements and selecting essential and decorative items.
Many interior designers work in specialized design services or in architectural, engineering, and related services.
How to Become an Interior Designer
Interior designers usually need a bachelor’s degree with a focus on interior design.
The median annual wage for interior designers was $56,040 in May 2019.
Employment of interior designers is projected to decline 5 percent from 2019 to 2029.
Interior designers make indoor spaces functional, safe, and beautiful by determining space requirements and selecting essential and decorative items, such as colors, lighting, and materials. They must be able to draw, read, and edit blueprints. They also must be aware of building codes, inspection regulations, and other considerations, such as accessibility standards.
Interior designers typically do the following:
- Search for and bid on new projects
- Determine the client’s goals and requirements for the project
- Consider how the space will be used and how people will move through the space
- Sketch preliminary design plans, including electrical and partition layouts
- Specify materials and furnishings, such as lighting, furniture, wall finishes, flooring, and plumbing fixtures
- Create a timeline for the interior design project and estimate project costs
- Place orders for materials and oversee the installation of the design elements
- Oversee construction and coordinate with general building contractors to implement the plans and specifications for the project
- Visit the site after the project is complete, to ensure that the client is satisfied
Interior designers work closely with architects, civil engineers, mechanical engineers, and construction laborers and helpers to determine how interior spaces will function, look, and be furnished. Interior designers read blueprints and must be aware of building codes and inspection regulations.
Although some sketches may be freehand, most interior designers use computer-aided design (CAD) software for most of their drawings. Throughout the design process, interior designers often use building information modeling (BIM) software to create three-dimensional visualizations that include construction elements such as walls or roofs.
Many designers specialize in particular types of buildings, such as homes, hospitals, or hotels; specific rooms, such as bathrooms or kitchens; or a specific style. Some designers work for home-furnishings stores, providing design services to help customers choose materials and furnishings.
Some interior designers produce designs, plans, and drawings for construction and installation. These products may include information for construction and demolition, electrical layouts, and building permits. Interior designers may draft the preliminary design into documents ranging from simple sketches to construction schedules and attachments.
The following are examples of types of interior designers:
Corporate designers create interior designs for professional workplaces in a variety of settings, from small offices to large buildings. They focus on creating spaces that are efficient, functional, and safe for employees. In their designs, they may incorporate elements of a company’s brand.
Healthcare designers plan and renovate healthcare centers, clinics, doctors’ offices, hospitals, and residential care facilities. They specialize in evidence-based design, which uses data and research in design decisionmaking to achieve positive results for patients, residents, and facilities.
Kitchen and bath designers specialize in kitchens and bathrooms and have expert knowledge of cabinet, fixture, appliance, plumbing, and electrical solutions for these rooms.
Sustainable designers suggest strategies to improve energy and water efficiencies and indoor air quality as well as environmentally sustainable products, such as bamboo and cork for floors. They may obtain certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) from the U.S. Green Building Council. Such certification indicates expertise in designing buildings and spaces with sustainable practices in mind.
Universal designers renovate spaces in order to make them more accessible. Often, these designs are used to renovate spaces for elderly people and people with special needs; however, universal designs benefit everyone. For example, an entryway without steps may be necessary for someone in a wheelchair, but it is also helpful for someone pushing a baby stroller.
Interior designers held about 77,900 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of interior designers were as follows:
|Specialized design services||27%|
|Architectural, engineering, and related services||20|
Most interior designers work in offices, but technology has changed the way many designers work. For example, interior designers now use software rather than drafting tables to create two- or three-dimensional images.
Interior designers also travel to clients’ design sites.
Interior designers may need to adjust their workday to suit their clients’ schedules and deadlines, including meeting with clients in the evening and on weekends.
This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of interior designers.
|Occupation||Job Duties||Entry-Level Education||Median Annual Pay, May 2019|
Architects plan and design houses, factories, office buildings, and other structures.
Art directors are responsible for the visual style and images in magazines, newspapers, product packaging, and movie and television productions.
Craft and Fine Artists
Craft and fine artists use a variety of materials and techniques to create art for sale and exhibition.
|See How to Become One||$48,760|
Fashion designers create clothing, accessories, and footwear.
Floral designers arrange live, dried, and silk flowers and greenery to make decorative displays.
|High school diploma or equivalent||$28,040|
Industrial designers combine art, business, and engineering to develop the concepts for manufactured products.
Landscape architects design parks and other outdoor spaces.
Graphic designers create visual concepts, using computer software or by hand, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, and captivate consumers.
For more information about interior designers, visit
For more information on accredited college degree programs in interior design, visit
For more information on licensing, visit
For more information on accredited kitchen and bath specialty programs in colleges and universities and on voluntary certification programs in residential kitchen and bath design, visit
Related BLS articles
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Interior Designers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/interior-designers.htm (visited ).