When people begin taking interior design classes, one of the first questions they tend to have is about how much money they could expect to make as an interior designer. While some people might criticize them for this question, implying that they should be making their decision to become an interior designer based solely on passion and not on a paycheck, salary is still important.
Interior designers, even the most passionate ones, still need to eat, pay their rent and treat themselves to some luxuries every now and then. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to know how much you’ll be compensated for your efforts as an interior designer once you’ve graduated. We will say there is probably something wrong with choosing between two different jobs based solely on salary, especially if the difference is very small. That said, before making a career choice, you should have some sort of idea of how much you stand to make in that career.
So what does the average interior designer make?
First off, before discussing salary, we should talk about the required qualifications. As a professional interior designer, you should have at least a Bachelor’s degree in interior design. While you may be able to get yourself an internship without having a Bachelor’s degree, this will generally be an unpaid internship, or at best, very low paying.
Once you have your Bachelor’s degree, some people will still find it somewhat difficult to find themselves a job, and will still take on an unpaid or low paying internship. While this isn’t ideal, it will still provide you with the necessary on the job training to be able to land yourself a job in the near future with a reasonable level of pay.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for an interior designer is $47,600 per year. Keep in mind this is only the median, and there are a whole lot of variables which need to be considered. For example, a brand new interior designer probably won’t make anything close to $47,600 and a well known interior designer will make considerably more.
Where you live will also have a significant impact on how much you can expect to earn. An interior designer in San Francisco where prices are high and interior design services are in high demand will make a lot more than and interior designer in a place like Wisconsin.
Some interior designers will choose to do their interior design school in an area where the cost is low, and upon graduation, move to an area where the pay is higher and there is more of a demand for their interior design services. We think that is a great strategy. While we maintain that interior designers shouldn’t be doing it only for the money, struggling to scrape by and pay your bills often ends up with people being turned off of interior design which is never a good thing for an aspiring interior designer.